Markey, Blumenthal Push FCC, MVPDs on Set-Tops

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) may have decided not to block the STELAR Act satellite reauthorization bill over its sunset of the cable set-top integration ban, but that does not mean either he or Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), both opponents of eliminating the ban, have given up the fight for a competitive retail set-top market.

Even as Sen. Harry Reid was trying to fast-track approval of the must-pass bill Thursday (Nov. 20), Markey and Blumenthal were sending letters to the FCC and to the top 10 MVPDs.

The letter to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler called on the FCC to use its authority "to ensure that consumers have more choices in set top boxes than merely leasing their boxes from their cable company." The STELAR bill does direct the FCC to start looking for a successor to the CableCARD hardware solution for separating the surfing and security functions of boxes (an effort to promote a retail market that did not pan out). But the Senators put an exclamation on that point and looked to light a fire under the effort.

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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.