Wheeler to Hill: We'll Avoid Overburdening Small MVPDs

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) that he shares his goal of not "unduly burdening" small, rural pay TV providers in the agency's "unlock the box" set-top box proposal.

That came in letters to the senators posted on the FCC's website. McConnell and Grassley had written Wheeler to, among other things, ask that the proposal not "disproportionately affect rural providers and consumers."

Wheeler told them he recognized the important role that small pay TV providers play, which is why the proposal suggests exempting analog systems and seek comment on the American Cable Association proposal to exempt all systems with one million or fewer subs.

Read more about the FCC's proposed set-top rules.

Wheeler said customers of MVPDs of all sizes deserve choice and innovation. ACA has pointed out in comments on the National Cable & Telecommunications Association “ditch the box” compromise proposal the FCC is also vetting that since DBS operators reach virtually the entire country and would be subject to the set-top box regime, consumers would still have choice if the FCC exempted smaller systems.

"The record we are developing will help us preserve strong copyright and privacy protections and avoid overburdening small pay TV providers while delivering American consumers meaningful choice," Wheeler told the senators.

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.