Eight Senators wrote a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, advocating for the agency to begin writing rules that would ensure that consumers can use any set-top box they want for accessing pay-TV content. The Senators recognized that real competition in the set-top box marketplace has remained elusive as 99% of customers rent a set-top box from their pay-TV provider. Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) found that the average American household spends almost $232 per year just to lease those set-top boxes. This amounts to nearly $20 billion every year for the Pay-TV providers.
Unless the FCC acts, it will be harder for consumers to use their own set-top boxes. Last year, Congress passed a law requiring the FCC to establish a working group of industry experts, engineers, and public interest advocates to develop a new way of ensuring that consumers can access pay-TV content from a retail device. That working group has since produced its report, and the FCC asked the public to comment on the two proposals in the report. Now, it’s time for the FCC to support consumers and facilitate competition in the set-top box marketplace.
The Senators who signed the letter were Markey, Blumenthal, Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Al Franken (DFL-MN), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).