Press Release

Public Knowledge Disappointed With Media Bureau Ruling

May 7, 2010 ,

Background:  The Media Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today issued an order allowing movie studios and other content owners to close off the outputs of TV sets and set-top boxes of consumers through the use of “selectable output control.”

The order is here.

The following statement is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

“We are disappointed that the Media Bureau has succumbed to the special-interest pleadings of the big media companies and ignored the thousands of letters from consumers.  The order allowing the use of ‘selectable output control’ will allow the big firms for the first time to take control of a consumer’s TV set or set-top box, blocking viewing of a TV program or motion picture.

“At no point in this proceeding did any of the content companies make the case that any ‘piracy’ was occurring because material was sneaking out of the back of a TV set onto the Internet.  At no point did the Bureau acknowledge that the Government Accountability Office had called into question the ‘piracy’ statistics the industry has been touting for years.

“We will be watching for the first time the industry decides to exercise its control over electronics in a consumer’s home.  At that point, neither the Commission, nor, we suspect, Capitol Hill, will be able to ignore the outrage that will surely come from consumers.  In the long run, customers will be much happier and willing to pay for content if the media companies loosen up their control of content.  The practices allowed by this order are in stark contrast to digital-age business plans in which companies need to ‘let go to grow.’”

Public Knowledge is a Washington D.C.- based public interest group working to defend consumer rights in the emerging digital culture.  More information is available at https://www.publicknowledge.org