FCC Ignores Consumer Concerns in Next-Gen TV Order

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Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on adopting the ATSC 3.0 standard developed by the broadcast industry, termed “Next-Gen TV.” The item denies requests from consumer advocates and others to protect consumer privacy, or ensure that consumers will not need to purchase new television sets to continue to receive free over-the-air TV signals after the five-year transition period.

Additionally, the Order rejects concerns from both consumer advocates and the cable industry that broadcasters adopting ATSC 3.0 will force cable operators to pass through the upgraded signal at the expense of subscribers who cannot receive the new signals. Finally, the FCC refused to adopt a “Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory” (RAND) licensing requirement for the ATSC 3.0 patents. Sinclair Broadcasting recently boasted to analysts that they expect significant new revenue from patent royalties they hold that are essential to the ATSC 3.0 standard.

The following can be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge:

“Once again, Chairman Pai takes action that primarily benefits Sinclair Broadcasting at the expense of consumers. Sinclair has boasted that the new ATSC 3.0 standard will give them detailed information about consumer viewing habits that they can then sell to advertisers. They have also boasted about the patent royalties they will collect. Despite this, the FCC Order does nothing to protect consumer privacy or protect consumers from the extra costs this transition will impose.”

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