Amazon Praises FCC Set-Top Proposal

Amazon praised the FCC's set-top box proposal in comments to the commission, but said there didn't need to be any new privacy requirements and that MVPDs subject to the regs should not include any Internet-delivered services.

The FCC is proposing requiring MVPDs to make their set-top content and data available to third parties, which can wed that with over-the-top services in a device or via an app.

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But Amazon wants the FCC to confine the definition of MVPD to "facilities-based linear and on-demand video services commonly sold as pay TV packages by MVPDs to customers." That means no "music, DVR, and video services delivered over the internet, where there is ample competition and consumer choice today."

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has put on hold his proposal to read the "facilities-based" out of the MVPD definition, which would have made such a carve-out problematic.

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And like Google, Amazon doesn't want the FCC to make adherence to MVPD-like privacy rules the quid pro quo for access to that set-top data. "Promoting competition in the navigation device market would not present significant consumer privacy concerns," it argued.

The internet powerhouse said there is a "wealth of choice" in software and devices, sounding at first blush like a cable operator criticizing the proposal, but then added that there was one exception: "devices to access MVPD-delivered content."

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Amazon said given that, and the "untapped potential" for such device competition, "the time is ripe" for FCC action.

Wheeler signaled Thursday, April 28 his proposal has got to happen, so he clearly echoes (or should that be "Amazon Echoes") that sentiment.

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Amazon said it was fine with going through a "meticulous" technical standards process for third-party device. The company suggested the proposal was the latest in a longstanding FCC history of pushing twin policies of increased competition and choice.

Amazon said the FCC's proposal was a balanced approach. It also said concerns about protecting intellectual property, programming, contracts privacy, content and security can all be "adequately addressed."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.