DOJ Blesses FCC Set-Top 'Inquiry'

The head of the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division said he was all for FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's "inquiry" into new set-top rules.

Wheeler last week proposed new rules, a proposal scheduled to be voted on Feb. 18, but they would not become official until the public commented on them and a final order was voted out.

In a statement, assistant attorney general Bill Baer said: "We welcome the Commission's inquiry into whether new set-top box rules may better unlock the power of consumer choice."

Baer did say "may," not "would," so it was short of an endorsement of the proposal, but he signaled the need to revise the FCC's current rules and endorsed a review. "The set-top box rules that are currently in place were designed for a marketplace of old technologies and traditional business models," he said. "The FCC is right to examine the issue and we look forward to participating in the effort to ensure that the benefits of competition and innovation reach American consumers.”

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.