Public Knowledge Fights for Video Choice in FCC Comments to Unlock The Box

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Today, Public Knowledge filed comments in the Federal Communications Commission’s recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on a proposal to allow pay TV subscribers to access programming on the devices and apps of their choice, instead of using devices or experiences controlled by their pay TV provider.

The following can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge:

“Public Knowledge applauds the FCC’s ongoing commitment to unlock the box. By giving viewers the right to access their pay TV subscriptions using the apps and devices of their choice, the FCC’s proposal will save consumers billions of dollars, unleash innovation and competition on a stale market, and give creators new ways to reach viewers while decreasing copyright infringement.

“The time is long overdue for the FCC to carry out this task. It’s good policy--and it’s the law. In 1996, Congress directed the Commission to ensure that the market for devices and interfaces was competitive. In December of 2014, Congress renewed that call, requiring that the FCC consider new technologies that would further the goals of the 1996 law better than its existing ‘CableCARD’ rules. The FCC’s current proceeding is the culmination of the process that Congress began.

“Opponents of the FCC’s proposal fear the loss of device rental fees, or worry that a more competitive marketplace might put them at a disadvantage. But in our comments, Public Knowledge explains how the FCC’s proposal, in addition to benefitting viewers while protecting privacy and other public interest goals, will ensure that content creators retain control of their programming, will make it easier for viewers to access lawful content (thus decreasing piracy), will promote diverse and minority programming, and will benefit video distribution competition, including making traditional pay TV services more appealing to viewers who might otherwise ‘cut the cord.’

“This proceeding is one of many efforts the FCC has undertaken to save viewers money and give them access to better, more diverse, and more competitive programming. They are all important. However, as the FCC has recognized, the pay TV stranglehold over the viewing experience holds back the marketplace in a number of ways and affects diverse programmers, online video competition, cable bills, and many other things. It is therefore critical that the FCC continue its work on this key issue, and for policymakers and stakeholders of all kinds to assist the FCC in resolving any technical or policy issues they may feel are outstanding.”

You can view our comments here. Please see our fact sheet on set-top boxes and competitive navigation for more information. You can also join the conversation on Twitter using #UnlockTheBox and make your voice heard.

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