Public Knowledge Makes Populist Pitch for Set-Top Revamp

Looking to capitalize on President-elect Donald Trump's populist appeal to the average Joe, Public Knowledge is calling on Trump to end the "consumer rip-offs" of set-top box rentals.

Clearly trying to hit the right notes in a letter to the President-elect, Public Knowledge talks about people feeling the system is rigged against them by a combination of big business and government that is ignoring the "will of the people."

Democratic FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has been unable to get three Democratic votes on his "unlock the box" or "unlock the app" proposals, so looking for a Republican to get that ball across the goal line is a tough ask, though Trump does not fit the traditional mold, having come out strongly against some big media mergers.

"We're well aware that some people in the Republican and Democratic establishments have sided with the cable and Hollywood lobbyists on this issue,” Public Knowledge wrote. “They'd rather let these industry giants decide what's best for ordinary consumers than let the people decide for themselves."

Public Knowledge added a knock on lobbyists, which Trump has also criticized. "These outrageous cable box rental fees have dogged consumers for decades thanks to powerful Washington insiders and cable lobbyists."

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.