Google, TiVo group criticize cable set-top box plan

A trade group representing Google, TiVo and other tech groups late Thursday criticized the cable industry's proposed alternative to a Federal Communications Commission plan to open up the market for television set-top boxes.

The paper offers suggestions to the FCC on ways to foster competition between cable box makers.

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The document from the Computer & Communications Industry Association slammed a proposal from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, AT&T and Comcast as “light in details and heavy with loopholes.”

The CCIA accused the proposal of perpetuating “the current non-competitive landscape,” which boxes out third-party devices, placing them on an unfair playing field.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has already proposed new rules under the commission’s Unlock The Box initiative that would help third-party companies trying to make their own boxes to sell to consumers. The commission is expected to vote on a final set of reforms later this year.

Cable groups have signaled opposition to those reforms, however, arguing they could cause privacy concerns and be damaging to intellectual property.

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) has said that he hopes the FCC finds “a solution that will inject some needed competition and innovation in the ecosystem, but without increasing the grave risks of online piracy or eroding consumers' right to privacy.”

He joins a collection of high-profile lawmakers who have also expressed concerns about the proposal, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats livid over GOP's COVID-19 attacks on Biden US could default within weeks absent action on debt limit: analysis The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBottom line Voters need to feel the benefit, not just hear the message Schumer-McConnell dial down the debt ceiling drama MORE (D-Nev.).

“Concerns raised by 'Unlock the Box' opponents can be addressed utilizing existing technologies and practices with respect to certification,” the CCIA paper reads. “Privacy, advertising, copyright and security issues can be remedied through a forward looking solution that preserves and promotes a competitive marketplace for consumers to access the content they have paid for.”