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In a letter to Senators Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler affirmed his commitment to a workable industry-wide set-top box standard to replace the system removed by Congress in the satellite television reauthorization bill STELAR. Public Knowledge applauds the Chairman for his commitment to leading the charge on consumer protections and choice in the video device marketplace.
The following may be attributed to Kate Forscey, Policy Fellow at Public Knowledge:
“Over the past several months, Public Knowledge has supported Senator Markey and Senator Blumenthal in their efforts to strip the satellite reauthorization bill of unnecessary and harmful language. We asked Congress to replace it with language that would preserve consumer protections and enhance the ability of consumers to choose what and how they watch programming in the digital era.
“Unfortunately, Congress persisted in allowing special interest legislation to be attached to the satellite bill. At the expense of the consumers it purports to protect, the law now endorses cable industry practices that threaten to drive up cable prices and expand the dominance of Comcast and other cable companies, which now control the devices consumers need to connect to their video and broadband services. The bill does preserve the ability of the Commission to examine the current marketplace and construct a new standard that could yet promote a competitive and innovative video marketplace. Happily, the Commission appears to have recognized that opportunity.
"The Chairman’s letter today confirms our belief that he will embrace the Commission's role as a champion of consumer choice, and we anticipate that a majority of his fellow Commissioners will support these efforts. The Commission’s affirmative move forward on vital consumer protection standards in the set-top box industry also has great potential to improve upon the law, updating practices to keep pace with a dynamic digital marketplace where proliferation of new content and technologies have already made consumer choice the law of the land.
“We are pleased that the FCC has decided to take up the mantle and finally give consumers more choices and lower price options for set-top boxes and related devices consumers need for connecting to their service."