Black Caucus Members Tell FCC AllVid Would Be Disaster

Cable operators have an ally in Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) and 29 other members of the Congressional Black Caucus when it comes to their opposition to turning the sunset of the set-top integration ban into the sunrise of an AllVid proposal.

The legislators have written FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to tell him that proposal would be a disaster--their term--for consumers and particularly minorities.

The all-vid proposal would create a common interface for content from a variety of sources--"one box to unite them all"--but one that would require consumers to rent additional equipment, costing them more money.

“And even worse," said the CBS members, "while requiring consumers to rent more equipment it would eliminate consumer protections concerning privacy, emergency alerts, children’s programming and more. Consumers would pay more and be protected less.”

They said AllVid would undercut the model that has allowed minority voices to enter the marketplace.

“AllVid will cause irreparable harm to independent and minority programmers by allowing third parties to strip programming from visible channel placements and relegate it to the bottom of the pile," they said. "These merchants would also be allowed to sell intrusive advertising without sharing any revenue with programmers, cutting off the needed revenue to continue producing quality content.”

Clarke had expressed concerns with AllVid in an FCC oversight hearing two weeks ago.

MVPDs and programmers argue an AllVid approach is a one-size-fits-all government mandate that would chill innovation and is unnecessary in a marketplace where online video is already proliferating and accessible on an increasing number of platforms.

Computer companies counter that, like the Carterfone decision that unleashed innovation in that device market, a "competitive navigation" approach would do the same for those devices.

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.