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McConnell to FCC: Rethink Set-Top Plan

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wants FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to reconsider the set-top proposal.

In a letter dated May 10, McConnell framed it as something of a constituent service, telling Wheeler that he shares the sentiments of hundreds of Kentuckians who have contacted him to "express their opposition to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on navigation devices, concerns he says he shares.

Wheeler is proposing requiring MVPDs to share their set-top data and content with third parties as a way to promote competition.

Related: Wheeler—Set-Top Proposal Doesn't Undercut Copyright

McConnell echoed MVPD arguments and said that he was concerned with the impact of the proposal on small distributors in rural America, and his state in particular. He said new set top regs would add new costs for equipment that would be shouldered by consumers.

The Majority Leader cited the revolution in accessing content--phone, tablet, laptop--wherever and whenever, and said those advances were not the product of FCC or congressional mandates but the free market. He also cited copy protection and the fear that third parties would not be bound by agreements to protect that content--Wheeler has said they will be.

Related: Groups File FCC Complaint Over MVPD Set-Top Privacy

McConnell said he hoped the FCC would listen to the concerns raised by lawmakers, organizations and others "across the ideological spectrum" and reconsider the proposal.

The Democratic majority voted to approve the proposal, but has not voted a final order. Wheeler has said the proposal is still a work in progress and can be adjusted to address the concerns raised across that spectrum.

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.