The Future of TV Coalition - Home

Apps, not boxes, are the future of TV. Learn more about a new proposal to “Ditch The Box”.

A Television Renaissance

Technology is transforming TV, giving American viewers more choices and more control than ever before. Video apps from traditional distributors, pioneering services like Hulu, Netflix, and Sling TV, and standalone apps from networks like CBS and HBO offer an unprecedented selection of content. Revolutionary app-powered devices like Roku, Apple TV, and cloud DVRs let fans watch their favorite shows across a variety of screens. TV is remaking its future – giving viewers more ways than ever to enjoy their favorite shows.

But this 'Golden Age' is in Jeopardy

A sweeping new mandate under consideration at the FCC would short-circuit this progress. Under heavy lobbying from Google, the FCC is considering a rule that would give big tech companies free access to TV providers’ programming libraries without negotiating for licensing rights in the market – a massive federal handout that would boost Google’s huge profits at the expense of viewers and creators.

New Name, Same Shell Game

The FCC’s proposal shares the same flaws as the “AllVid” proposal previously rejected by the FCC in 2010. While misleadingly portrayed as a means to provide choice in the market for TV navigation devices, this “AllVid 2.0” mandate would actually burden consumers with new in-home equipment and require costly engineering changes to let tech companies unbundle and repackage TV services as their own.

Consumers Lose

Under the proposed set-top box mandate, viewers would lose vital privacy protections over their personal viewing data. Cable and satellite companies are barred by federal law from sharing or selling your private viewing data – but boxes and apps built by tech companies like Google would not be covered by these same protections.

Diverse, Independent Programming Would Suffer

Rather than investing in their own programming or negotiating with other content creators, Google wants the FCC to allow them to “poach” video programming without honoring agreements or paying licensing fees. Critics call it a “brazen money grab.” Small, diverse and independent programmers would be particularly at risk from this mandate which, according to TV One's Alfred Liggins and others, could lead to a “new form of digital redlining” with minority programming shunted to back pages of channel guides and search results. That’s why 30 members of the Congressional Black Caucus and more than two dozen civil rights organizations have voiced serious concerns about this overreaching mandate.

Another Government-Mandated Box

TV is already moving toward a future that relies less on boxes and more on apps and cloud-based services. In some places, viewers can already access their entire subscription TV package over digital apps without needing a set-top box at all – a trend that will only accelerate. But the FCC’s set-top box mandate would reverse this trend, requiring TV subscribers to lease and install a new government-approved adapter box in order to watch TV on a new "AllVid-compatible" retail device. Even Public Knowledge, a Google-backed advocacy group leading the fight for this mandate, has admitted it will require new hardware in customers’ homes.

Caught in the Past

Because of these and other technological, policy, and legal problems, the FCC wisely declined to pursue AllVid in 2010. The idea of mandating set-top box technologies makes even less sense today. As Apple’s Tim Cook recently said, “the future of TV is apps.” Networks, streaming video services, and traditional TV distributors have all embraced this vision for the future, offering consumers a tidal wave of new options for how, where, and when to watch their shows. A set-top box mandate would not only be damaging to viewers and creators of diverse content, but it would also be obsolete before it was even enacted – yet another reason why the FCC should reject this deeply flawed proposal.

What Others Are Saying


Add your name to the growing list of consumers telling the FCC to support app-driven innovation and to reject a one-size-fits-all tech mandate that will harm consumers, require obsolete technologies and limit the growth of new content, diverse voices, and new experiences.
Sign the petition.