Sen. Nelson Says Set-Top Plan Needs Work

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, added his name to those with concerns about FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's app-based set-top plan revamp.

That came in his opening statement for the committee's FCC oversight hearing, so he delivered that message directly to Wheeler and the other commissioners.

Nelson said he agreed that consumers needed to be freed from paying "annoying and excessive monthly fees" for set-tops and praising Wheeler for his work in getting the item "so close" to that shared goal.

But he also said he shared stakeholder concerns about the item's impact on content protection and said that the item still needed work.

Nelson warned that if the FCC stayed on the present course, he was afraid the item could be tied up in the courts for years and said that the FCC should reach out to stakeholders before acting to "get it right."

The commission is scheduled to vote the proposal Sept. 29.

Wheeler, for his part, said Congress had mandated competition—the FCC had worked for months on the item, then adopted the MVPD proposal of an app-based approach but that MVPDs had been playing rope-a-dope with that mandate for years and that it was time to act.

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.