Skip to main content

NCTA: Sloganeering Doesn't Make Set-Top Plan Lawful

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association is backing a compromise "ditch the box" proposal on set-top box competition, but that is not keeping it from strongly defending its position against the FCC's original "unlock the box" proposal.

In rebuttal comments filed at the FCC, the cable trade group took aim at claims made by FCC proposal fans in various ex parte filings.

NCTA said that if the FCC used those claims to guide the final result, it would be arbitrary and capricious and would not stand up in court.

To those FCC fans, NCTA ticked off the reasons the FCC proposal has drawn such a crowd of detractors, including from both sides of the political spectrum, as well as unions, studios, writers, record labels, device manufacturers and a laundry list of others.

Those reasons include:

1. It exceeds the FCC's authority; 2. weakens consumer privacy and other protections; 3. it devalues advertising; 4. it disregards licensing; 5. it jeopardizes content security; 6. it puts new costs on consumers—NCTA says the FCC proposal is a "two-box" solution.

NCTA put in a plug for the "ditch the box" proposal, saying it provides "further momentum" to the apps revolution. It said that nothing in the filings by the proposals' backers have changed those "basic facts," including that the FCC proposal would "an FCC-issued zero-cost compulsory copyright license – entirely unauthorized by law – to allow unlicensed tech companies to commercially exploit copyrighted works without permission from or compensation to the copyright owners."

"Sloganeering with false claims does nothing to make their proposal workable or lawful," said the trade group.

“In a period of constructive conversation, it is disappointing to see the NCTA continuing to push misleading arguments they know to be untrue," said an industry source pushing the FCC proposal. "Currently, the only “two box” proposal is the cable app plan. It takes away consumers' DVR and recording functionality, meaning consumers would still need to buy a streaming box and keep renting a DVR box from cable companies. That's a significant reason the current cable app proposal is bad for the environment, and bad for the wallet.”

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.