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Set-Top Box, Independent Video on FCC's Sept. 29 Agenda

Two hotly contested Media Bureau issues will take up most of the time at the next Federal Communications Commission open meeting on Thursday, Sept. 29.

The proposed Report and Order called "Expanding Consumers' Video Navigation Choices"—better known as "unlock the box"—will face a commission vote after an intense seven months of cable industry criticism. Chairman Tom Wheeler calls the plan one that will "modernize" FCC rules and "allow consumers to use a device of their choosing to access multichannel video programming instead of leasing devices from their cable or satellite providers." The proposal has generated tens of thousands of public comments, many spurred by Silicon Valley's encouragement of the plan.

Also on the agenda is a Notice of Proposed Rule Making for "Promoting the Availability of Diverse and Independent Sources of Video." The FCC intends to encourage policies that give non-traditional program producers easier access to delivery systems. Supporters of the plan contend that such program creators face barriers to carriage on traditional MVPD channels and also on new online distribution platforms.

The Sept. 29 FCC line-up also includes a review of foreign ownership policies that would give broadcast licensees "the same streamlined rules and procedures that common carrier wireless licensees use to seek approval for foreign ownership, with appropriate broadcast-specific modifications." The item establishes a framework for a publicly traded common carrier or broadcast licensee or controlling U.S. parent to ascertain its foreign ownership levels.

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) round out the commission's agenda.  It will consider a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would leverage advancements in technology to improve WEA content, delivery and testing.