NCTA, Charter Also Wary of FCC’s Proposed Set-Top Rules

The National Cable Telecommunications Association and Charter Communications joined Comcast in arguing that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposed set-top box rules will exceed the Commission’s authority.

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The NCTA took it a step further by holding that the rules should eliminate the FCC’s proposed role in the licensing process.

Here’s Charter’s statement:

“Enabling consumers to use apps instead of set-top boxes may be a valid goal, but the marketplace is already delivering on the goal without overreaching government intervention.  The FCC’s mandate threatens to bog down with regulations and bureaucracy the entire TV app market that consumers are increasingly looking to for innovation, choice and competition.”

And the NCTA’s:

“Notwithstanding the rhetorical flourishes in the public materials used to describe the Chairman’s latest set-top proposal, there are some important details being left out.  According to several public sources, the Commission will play a much more significant role in the licensing process than simply the ‘backstop’ as it was described today. 

That is, the Chairman isn’t just proposing a ‘standard license’ but a centralized licensing organization that would exist in perpetuity.  The work of this licensing body would be subject to intrusive FCC oversight, creating a bureaucratic morass and improperly involving the FCC in private licensing arrangements in a way that will slow the deployment of video apps, ignore copyright protections and infringe on consumer privacy. 

This proposal would far exceed the Commission’s legal authority and improperly insert the government into private contract negotiations between pay TV distributors, content creators and device manufacturers.  

 Perhaps that’s why it’s not on the Fact Sheet.  This element of the Chairman’s proposal must be eliminated or drastically altered if the Commission hopes to have a sound app-based plan that truly benefits consumers while protecting the critical rights of content creators.”