An industry coalition on Thursday proposed what it calls an alternative to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan to open up the market for television set-top boxes. Major pay TV providers DirecTV and Comcast and cable trade group NCTA, along with minority programmers, said major providers could be legally obligated to build applications to allow customers to access their content.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler appeared to rebuff a request by lawmakers to delay consideration of his proposed plan to open up the market for television set-top boxes in a letter Wednesday.
In one of the most all-out offensives launched at the FCC’s “Unlock the Box” set-top regulatory proposal, Comcast and the NCTA each filed searing reply commentary to the agency. A day after AT&T referred to the NPRM as a “radical unbundling scheme,” the National Cable Telecommunications Association ramped up the rhetoric even further, calling the proposal a “radial re-invention of the video marketplace.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley joined several other high-ranking colleagues on Monday in hitting FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan to open up the market for television set-top boxes.
The Senate majority whip is raising concerns this week after President Obama backed an FCC proposal to open up the market for TV set-top boxes. “Irrespective of the underlying merits of the FCC’s proposal, I am troubled by claims that administration officials are inappropriately pressuring an independent agency to pick winners and losers in the marketplace,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said in letters Monday to White House counsel Neil Eggleston and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
The commission (read Chairman Tom Wheeler) wants to let third parties (read Google) offer cable and satellite subscribers alternatives to the system-supplied set-top boxes, claiming that would protect consumers from egregious monthly rental fees. Both broadcasters and cable have raised legitimate objections to the idea, arguing that it could disrupt the current broadcasting-cable ecosystem in many harmful ways. Let’s hope the clock runs out on Wheeler.
The top Republican and Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee are worried that a FCC proposal to open up the market for the set-top boxes that consumers use to watch television could lead to “an expansion” in the distribution of pirated content.
From holding media briefings earlier in the week attacking the legal aspects of the FCC’s set-top proposal to a few hundred pages of comments filed the initial deadline of Fri, cable wasn’t shy about expressing its displeasure of the agency’s plan to open up the market for third party vendors. And joining in the fight is the FTC.
It’s safe to say that if the FCC moves forward with its set-top box proposal, which seeks to open up the set-top market to third-party vendors, cable will sue. In separate media briefings Thursday, both NCTA and ACA executives made it clear that they won’t hesitate to take the commission to court.
Comcast is going to launch an app on the streaming-TV gadget Roku that takes the place of a cable box. Comcast is also working on a cable-TV app for Samsung smart TVs. Comcast doesn’t say when the apps will be available. Only people in places where Comcast provides cable service could get it, but they don’t have to get Comcast internet too.
President Obama will announce on Friday his support for opening the market for cable set-top boxes, singling out the devices in millions of homes as a clunky and outdated symbol of corporate power over consumers as he introduces a broad federal effort to increase competition. In an unusual step, Obama will weigh in personally on a pending proposal at the FCC, filing comments that encourage it to loosen cable companies’ grip on the boxes.
If consumers are able to replace the set-tops they now lease from cable or satellite providers with a box or app from a third party as the FCC is proposing, Google and others could sell boxes or apps that would offer access to both traditional cable fare and OTT streaming services. Programmers are joining the opposition, concerned that they could lose control over their content and the advertising that supports it and be further exposed to OTT competition.
In a vote along partisan lines, the FCC today launched a rulemaking that could end cable and satellite companies’ near-total control over their customers’ set-top boxes.
The pay-TV industry lobbied Tuesday against a proposal to open cable set-top box standards, blasting it as a giveaway to West Coast technology companies that could take years to implement and burden consumers with extra costs. The FCC is expected to take its first vote on new set-top rules in Washington on Thursday.
When FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler officially unveils his long-awaited proposal next week to disrupt cable set-top boxes, it’ll contain a set of privacy provisions aimed at making sure new cable-box manufacturers don’t abuse the data they collect on viewer behaviors.
The FCC recently announced that it intends to vote this month on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking aimed at creating a competitive retail market for video set-top boxes, a move that gives clear meaning to the biblical proverb “as a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.” There are plenty of technologies and services available today through which consumers can get video programming. So what could be driving Chairman Tom Wheeler to stick his burnt finger back into the fire?
Unhappy with what they call an “obscure” proposal from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler allowing consumers to buy set-top boxes that sounds an awful lot like the “AllVid” scheme they’ve been stridently resisting for months, the pay TV industry united Wednesday in a rhetorical show of strength.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is calling for new technical standards designed to spark a market for set-top boxes that could be sold independently at retail outlets.
They want the commission to launch a rulemaking to allow consumers to use set-top boxes of their choice to receive MVPD programming.
Time Warner Cable is going to start testing in New York City a cable service that doesn’t need a cable box and is delivered over their customers’ home Internet.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Comcast is talking with a number of audience measurement companies and TV networks to license its data to them. The company is looking to harness data from streaming devices and set-top boxes and organize the details into dashboards, which networks and marketers can use to target certain data segments. The talks, which have extended to ESPN, Discovery and Turner and already nabbed NBCUniversal. Subscribers to The Wall Street Journal can read the full story here.
Apple TV will debut a new set-top box at WWDC this summer featuring Siri and the App Store. The new device is likely to sport a redesign and more storage, but there’s no word yet on pricing.
Roku has launched a new white-label program dubbed Roku Powered that makes the company’s streaming devices available to pay TV operators. Roku Powered devices feature the brand of the operator, and also give the operator the power to exclude certain apps.
The Department of Energy has reached a deal with environmental and business groups on new energy efficiency standards for cable and satellite television boxes. The agreement will save about $1 billion in energy costs for more than 90 million American homes each year, the department said, but won’t lead to new regulations. Instead, the energy efficiency standards will be voluntary.
TV viewers continue to want more from the TV set-top box devices — but the price can be high. “Home media gateway” boxes — high-end set-top boxes such as Dish Network’s Hopper and units from Cisco and Motorola that can be wireless (and wired) connections to other devices — will climb to 10 million units worldwide, according to MRG, an SNL Kagan company. This is an increase from the 7.7 million shipped in 2012.
The cloud-based X2 features set-top boxes four times faster, three times smaller, but use half the power of traditional cable boxes. “The cloud is a game changer,” said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts.
The set-top box may find living rooms increasingly crowded with other video-delivery devices, but as next week’s annual industry confab the Cable Show will make clear, it’s not going away anytime soon. As challengers like Apple TV, Microsoft’s Xbox One and Roku try to use their hardware platforms to capture more video viewing, the industry risks losing ground if pay TV is just another tile in an app store vying for attention.
Amazon is planning to introduce a Kindle TV set-top box this fall that will stream video over the Internet and into living rooms. The move will accompany the likely release of an Amazon smartphone, according to sources familar with the project. It will allow Amazon to compete with Apple TV, Roku and the Boxee Cloud DVR, among other devices.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple Inc. is in talks with some of the biggest U.S. cable operators about letting consumers use an Apple device as a set-top box for live television and other content. The talks represent Apple’s most ambitious crack at infiltrating the living room after years of trying. WSJ subscribers can read the story here.
Electronic program guide company, Rovi Corp. is launching a media research tool for media agencies and advertisers to measure TV advertising buys on its ad network. Rovi Analytics will provide measurements such as unique viewers, impressions and time spent — data that comes from set-top boxes, as well as connected television and video devices.
Google is looking to unload the set-top box business it will inherit from Motorola Mobility even before it closes on the $12.5 billion acquisition. The move appears to be an about-face from last August, when Google CEO Larry Page, in announcing the deal, suggested the business would play a role in his plans for revolutionizing the living room.