Future of TV Coalition Adds Latino Groups

The Future of Television Coalition—comprised of ISPs, studios and others opposed to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's set-top box proposal—says 14 Latino organizations have joined the fight.

According to the group, which says the chairman is trying to "radically rewrite the rules of the video marketplace" to the detriment of their business models and consumers, the new members are ASPIRA, Dialogue on Diversity, FGTV, Freemind Beauty, Hispanic Leadership Fund, Hispanic Technology & Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP), League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), MANA, National Puerto Rican Coalition, SER Jobs for Progress, TechLatino: The Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology Association, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, United States Hispanic Leadership Institute, and VMe TV.

Jose Marquez, the president & CEO of TechLatino: The Latinos in Information Science and Technology Association, said in a statement sent by the coalition that the FCC proposal is "a sweetheart deal for Silicon Valley that comes at the expense of entrepreneurs and content creators who are serving minority audiences and building businesses in our communities."

Wheeler has scheduled a vote on his Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Feb. 18, triggering the official comment period on the proposal from the public, interest groups, and industry, though he is already getting lots of comment on it from various quarters.

Wheeler bills it as creating open standards to spur a competitive market in video access devices, while MVPDs and studios say it is a way to disaggregate business models and run roughshod over copyright protections in the rush to deliver that content to third parties.

The coalition, which was formed two weeks ago, argues that the marketplace is already opening up new avenues to access both online and traditional content and the FCC should back off.

An FCC spokesperson suggested the proposal would instead boost diverse programming.

"This proposal aims to introduce competition and innovation into the set top box market, finally giving consumers the choice of using devices and apps to access all of the programming they pay for," the spokesperson said. "When it’s easier for content creators to reach consumers, through better interfaces, menus, search functions, and improved over-the-top integration, we would expect this to lead to more diverse programming accessed more easily — especially minority and independent programming. The proposal will have no impact on distribution and programming deals."

An FCC source familiar with the proposal said that the goal is a competitive video access device with improved search functionality that allows consumers to find growing amount of over-the-top minority programming that isn't available over an MVPD's box.

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.