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60 Lawmakers Voice Concerns to Wheeler About FCC Set-Top Box Proposal

A group of 60 House members wrote a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler on Thursday raising strong concerns about the agency’s proposal to open up the set-top box market, passed in February.

The lawmakers said that if the FCC passed the rules in the proposal it “will jeopardize the incredible evolution of video distribution services enabled by generally reasonable regulation.” The “onerous” new regulations would “produce very few benefits for consumers, while potentially harming the viability of these providers,” they wrote in the letter.

Fifty-two Republicans, including Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee Vice Chairman Bob Latta (R-Ohio) and 11 members of his panel, joined eight Democrats in signing the letter.

“The particular obligations being considered by the FCC are all the more troubling because they would mandate compliance with technical standards that do not yet exist, injecting even greater uncertainty into the marketplace,” the lawmakers wrote.

The members worry the proposal “threatens the economic welfare of small pay-TV companies providing both vital communications to rural areas and competitive alternatives to consumers in urban markets,” they added.

The American Cable Association praised the members’ effort and reiterated some of its concerns about the FCC’s proposal, which they said “makes no sense.”

“The costs of the FCC’s mandates would cripple many smaller providers, forcing them to exit the business, reduce critical investments or raise consumer prices,” ACA President and Chief Executive Matthew Polka said in a statement.