They want the commission to launch a rulemaking to allow consumers to use set-top boxes of their choice to receive MVPD programming.
Senators Urge Wheeler To Move On STBs
Eight U.S. senators on Monday urged FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in a letter to “move as quickly possible” to initiate a rulemaking that ensures tens of millions of Americans can use video set-top boxes of their choice to access cable and satellite television subscription programming.
The senators, in advocating for Chairman Wheeler to take up the matter before the full commission, said: “Without strong FCC action, consumers may be left with no choice but to rent set-top boxes from their MVPD providers in perpetuity, which is akin to the days when consumers had no choice but to rent their rotary dial telephone from the telephone company.”
The senators who sent the letter are Edward Markey, Bernard Sanders, Richard Blumenthal, Al Franken, Maria Cantwell, Cory A. Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Ron Wyden.
They wrote: “We are writing to urge the FCC to address the future of competition in the marketplace for video set-top boxes, which millions of Americans use to access television programming. According to information received from the top 10 multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs), these providers annually charge consumers nearly $20 billion in rental fees for set top boxes. Almost all MVPD customers rent these video boxes from their provider, and each American household spends on average $232 per year on video box rental fees alone. We believe the time has arrived for the FCC to enable millions of Americans to access an enormous amount of content in innovative, new, and less costly ways.
“We call on the commission to move as quickly as possible to initiate a rulemaking that ensures that Americans can use set-top boxes of their choice to access MVPD programming. We strongly encourage the commission to ensure that this replacement technology is cheap, efficient, widely available and easy to use. The goal of this technology should be to usher in a new wave of innovation in the set top box marketplace, giving consumers a greater number of cheaper options to buy their own set-top boxes.”