Hoyer to Wheeler: Set-Top Compromise Needed

Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is looking to whip the FCC's set-top box proposal into shape by finding some common ground between unlocking and ditching the box.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, Hoyer said a worthwhile goal would be retiring the "clunky and costly set-top box."

He said Wheeler's "unlock the box proposal" was commendable for ambitious goals, but cited the concerns, including from Congress, about its "practicality and unintended consequences. Wheeler's proposal is to make MPVD's set-top content and data available to third party navigation device providers.

Stoyer called MVPD's app-centric, "ditch the box" proposal a constructive approach.

He also pointed to the "grave risks" of piracy or of eroding consumer's right to privacy. Both issues programmers and MVPDs have been raising about the FCC proposal.

Stoyer said that "some level of openness" should be required to allow for universal search, but not at the expense of consumer privacy. He also said rules should be "flexible and dynamic."

Wheeler last week said he was glad stakeholders were talking about his proposal, but suggested they had to be dragged to the table and indicated he still had issues with "ditch the box" and lots of questions that still needed

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.