FCC chief expects TV box reforms to include industry proposals

FCC chief expects TV box reforms to include industry proposals
© Greg Nash

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler said Thursday that he is likely to include ideas from the pay-television industry in his proposed reforms for the video set-top box market.

The agency is currently weighing a plan that would open up the market for television set-top boxes to give Americans more options for viewing video. But pay-TV companies oppose that plan and are pushing for less radical alternative.


“The fact that the industry has come in, given us this information, engaged in meetings with us, has been really helpful,” Wheeler told reporters after the commission’s open meeting in August. “I believe that many of their suggestions will be adopted.”

Wheeler’s proposal, which the commission voted to formally consider earlier this year, would require video providers to open up their feeds to third-party manufacturers who wanted to make their own boxes.

But the industry has other ideas. Its plan would require major video providers to offer applications for smart televisions and other devices where consumers could view their content.

The commission's plan is likely to come up for a vote later this year.

This week, the pushback on the plan grew to include the U.S. Copyright Office, who said that “the rule could interfere with copyright owners’ rights to license their works as provided by copyright law, and restrict their ability to impose reasonable conditions on the use of those works through the private negotiations that are the hallmark of the vibrant and dynamic [video provider] marketplace.”

Wheeler reiterated on Thursday that his plan would protect the delicate agreements between content creators and video providers. And he said the commission was taking feedback it got from critics into account.

“That’s what this process is all about,” he said.