Industry puts pressure on Rosenworcel over set-top box

Industry puts pressure on Rosenworcel over set-top box
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Opponents of the Federal Communications Commission’s set-top box market reforms are putting more pressure on Democratic Commission Jessica Rosenworcel, seen as the swing vote on the hotly-contested item.

In a filing on Friday, a set of programming companies disclosed that they spoke with Rosenworcel last week and said that “any arrangement in which they are required to allow their content to be distributed on terms or conditions to which programmers would not agree would be tantamount to a compulsory copyright license, which the Commission lacks authority to impose.”

The phone call included representatives from Viacom, Time Warner, Disney, A&E Television Networks, Scripps Networks, 21st Century Fox and Univision Networks. It was first reported by Broadcasting and Cable.

“In conclusion, the programmer representatives stressed that the Commission should not adopt any proposal that includes any FCC involvement in the licensing process or that grants the FCC the ability to establish or modify the terms and conditions of any license for the ultimate distribution of content,” the filing said.

The pressure is growing on Rosenworcel ahead of a Thursday FCC oversight hearing convened by the Senate Commerce Committee, when questions are likely to come up about the set-top box proposal.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler put forth a proposal last week that would require video providers to produce free applications for devices like smart televisions or tablets that customers could use to watch live content. Under the rules, the FCC would have authority over the standard license governing the relationship between the providers and device makers.

That has angered the the pay-television industry — which says the requirement would be illegal.

The proposal is nonetheless a retreat from his initial recommendations: that pay-TV providers be required to open up their video and data streams to third-party manufacturers. Rosenworcel was highly skeptical of that proposal, which she said had “real flaws.”