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Sens. Seek Cost/Benefit Analysis of Set-Top Proposal

The chair and ranking members of the Senate Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management Subcommittee have asked the FCC to a do a formal cost/benefit analysis on its set-top box proposal before voting on final rules.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, chair James Lankford (R-Okla.) and ranking member Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) said that supporting competition was important, they said the proposal could have significant impact on MVPDs in general, and smaller MVPDs in particular.

That latter point has been made repeatedly of late, including by the advocacy arm of the Small Business Administration, a bipartisan group of senators and the American Cable Association.

They said to get a better handle on that, the FCC should conduct a formal cost/benefit analysis.

They said they had heard from a number of small MVPDs in their states, and that "stranded investments and accounting for new compliance efforts...can force them to end the distribution of video services to their customers."

That point has also pointedly been made by ACA.

Heitkamp and Lankford urged the commission to consider doing a qualitative and quantitative cost/benefit analysis during the course of the rulemaking process and include it in the final rule. They also want a clear explanation of how allowing third party access to set-top programming and data will increase consumer choice.

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.