By Amir Nasr
January 25, 2017 at 12:02 pm ET
House Republicans are calling on Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to end an effort started by his predecessor to open up the cable set-top box marketplace.
“This docket should be closed to give video programming distributors a clear sign that they can bring technological advances to set-top boxes and video delivery without fear that the Commission overturn them by regulation,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (Ore.), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) and every other GOP member of the subcommittee wrote in a Wednesday letter.
The lawmakers said the proposal, introduced by former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, is “an unnecessary regulatory threat to the content creation and distribution industries.”
Wheeler’s proposed rules would have required service providers to provide apps that could function on widely available devices, to allow consumers to gain access to the same programming without needing to pay for cable set-top boxes. The rules fell apart after some congressional Democrats and former Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel expressed opposition to a provision that would have set up a copyright licensing board overseen by the FCC.
While the set-top box rules are still on the FCC’s docket, Pai has been opposed to the rules since the initial proposal passed the agency in February 2016, so it is unlikely those rules would get a vote under his leadership. But pressure from key telecom Republicans could ensure Pai removes the item from the FCC’s agenda.
Correction: A previous version misstated when the FCC passed the initial set-top box proposal.