The Commission meeting didn’t go as long as planned last week once the FCC announced that the much-anticipated vote for the Set-Top Box order would be taken off of the agenda.
The debate over the set-top box proposal has been a long and nasty one. The FCC chairman Tom Wheeler initially released a proposal calling for service providers to give access to their video streams to third-party companies so that those companies could create alternative user experiences around Pay-TV content on their own retail hardware.
Then when that proved not to be efficient, a revised proposal came out recommending an apps-based strategy for moving pay-TV content to new devices. TV providers were more in line with this idea, but this proposal does include an added provision stating that the apps process would need to be standardized and overseen by a licensing body which providers and programmers were not in favor.
Industry observers didn’t know how the vote was going to turn out; Commissioners Wheeler and Clyburn have supported the set-top box proposal where as Democratic Commissioner Rosenrcel has expressed concern.
Comcast’s senior executive VP chimed in on the decision to delay the vote by sayingWheeler made the right decision and should allow more time to iron out the kinks. This is an extremely complicated and technical item that should not be adopted without the opportunity for expert and public input.
How the Public Might Respond
The proposal would have forced cable and satellite TV providers to “unlock” their set-top boxes allowing their customers a choice on how they receive their content. Customers would then not have to pay what is estimated at $231/year for renting a set-top box but have the option to go to third party companies like Google and access content through apps.
Everything comes at a price though; Even with the waved set-top box fee, content could be limited pending on which provider you decide to get content through or prices could increase within apps because TV-providers will have to work with programmers on getting their content on those mediums.
Consumers won’t know the benefit or disadvantage until a decision is made; we will just have to wait and see which way the vote goes.