Earlier this year, Congress did exactly what we feared - passed a bill including a provision that we have been fighting against for months. The Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization (STELAR) passed with a special interest provision straight from the cable industry that could drive up cable bill prices, reduce consumer choice, and hurt innovation across the TV industry.
Now, devices like TiVo could be prevented from developing and competing in the video device marketplace. The rules previously in place ensured that all cable services and features remained available to consumers who chose to buy a third-party set-top box instead of rent a set-top box from their cable provider.
Dedicated members of Congress and public interest groups spoke out, and as a result, Chairman Wheeler released a letter today stating that the Federal Communications Commission will commit to replacing the system removed by Congress, in an effort to ensure set-top box competition. Learn more below, and include your signature on our petition to encourage the FCC to move forward with an improved standard for the cable industry.*
Dear Chairman Wheeler,
We applaud your commitment to a workable industry-wide set-top box standard today. Over the past several months, Public Knowledge has supported Senator Markey in his efforts to strip the satellite reauthorization bill of unnecessary and harmful language and replace it with language that would have preserved consumer protections and enhanced the ability of consumers to choose what and how they watch programming in the digital era.
Unfortunately, the Congress persisted in allowing special interest legislation to be attached to the satellite bill. At the expense of the consumers it purports to protect, the law now endorses cable industry practices that threaten to drive up cable prices, as well as expands the dominance of cable companies over the devices consumers need to connect to their video and broadband services.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 directs the FCC to promote a competitive market in set-top boxes. The Commission’s affirmative move forward on vital consumer protection standards in the set-top box industry has great potential to improve upon the law, updating practices to keep pace with a dynamic digital marketplace where proliferation of new content and technologies have already made consumer choice the law of the land.
We encourage the FCC to take action quickly on this in order to give consumers more choices and lower price options for set-top boxes and related devices consumers need for connecting to their service.
Petition signatures will be submitted to the public docket at the FCC. Your name, city, state, and zip code are required by the FCC for submission. We will not share this information with anyone else.