Top Energy and Commerce Dem 'skeptical' of new box plan

Top Energy and Commerce Dem 'skeptical' of new box plan
© Greg Nash

The top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee said Monday that he is doubtful of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) compromise plan to reform the market for television set-top boxes.

“While I commend Chairman Wheeler for working to solve this difficult issue, I'm concerned that this latest proposal will not work, particularly when it comes to licensing,” Rep. Frank Pallone (N.J.) said in a statement. “Ultimately, I'm skeptical that the revised plan will benefit consumers.”

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At issue is a proposal from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler that would require pay-television providers to produce applications through which consumers could watch live television programming. Providers object to the oversight that the commission would have over the licenses that govern their relationships with device makers.

They have called such a role illegal. The FCC, however, has said that it has the authority to do so and needs to have a role in the licensing process so that providers will not take advantage of the system.

“We continue to have productive conversations with all stakeholders about Chairman Wheeler’s apps-based proposal to ensure consumers have the options they deserve — and that Congress mandated — to access the programming they already pay for,” said FCC spokesperson Kim Hart in a statement.

Wheeler’s new proposal is already a step back from his first plan, which the commission voted to formally consider months ago, that would have required the providers to open up their feeds to third-party manufacturers.