Obama Supports Cable Box Competition And—Surprise—Cable Lobby Is Angry

from ars technica

President Obama today pledged support for the Federal Communications Commission effort to give cable TV customers a greater choice of set-top boxes. Shortly after, the top cable lobby group expressed its displeasure, saying the White House’s statement “may be good politics, but it’s bad government.”

The White House published a blog post this morning saying that cable TV subscribers shouldn’t have to spend “nearly $1,000 over four years to lease a set of behind-the-times boxes.” Americans should “have options to own a device for much less money that will integrate everything they want—including their cable or satellite content, as well as online streaming apps—in one, easier-to-use gadget,” the White House said.

The FCC in February approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would force pay-TV companies to provide content and programming information to makers of third-party hardware and applications. This would create a software-based replacement for CableCard, allowing other companies to build set-top boxes or mobile applications that display a pay-TV subscriber’s channels without a physical CableCard.

The FCC vote was 3-2, with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and other Democrats passing the item over objections from Republicans. The NPRM kicked off a months-long public comment period, and final rules could be issued before the end of this year.

More here.

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