Sen. Stabenow: FCC Should Study Set-Top Impact on Small MVPDs

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) has asked the FCC to collect more data on the impact of its proposed "unlock the box" set-top plan.

In a letter to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, a copy of which was obtained by B&C, Stabenow said that she was both commending the FCC for evaluating competition and consumer choice in the set-top marketplace and raising concerns about the impact of its proposed rule on small MVPDs.

The American Cable Association has been asking the FCC to provide relief to smaller operators given the costs of compliance that fall disproportionately on its members.

Stabenow signaled she agreed with the FCC that it was time to do more to promote competition to leased boxes, as the FCC has said, but also that the marketplace was already moving in the direction of more choice and innovation, as cable operators have argued in pushing back on the proposal.

She said she was especially concerned about the impact of compliance on small business she said have not gotten enough information from the FCC on the "administrative and technological costs."

She said she understood it was tough for the FCC to produce an estimate, but it should work with MVPDs on coming up with one.

She said that if the compliance cost is too high, it could prove a new barrier to entry or force some companies out of business, a point ACA has also made.

Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus have called on the FCC to pause its set-top proceeding until a couple of impact studies can be completed.

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.