The Future of TV Coalition Future Of TV Coalition Responds To Chairman Wheeler’s Remarks Earlier Today On Set-Top Boxes

Future Of TV Coalition Responds To Chairman Wheeler’s Remarks Earlier Today On Set-Top Boxes

Future of TV Coalition   •   Press Release   •   April 28, 2016

In a press conference following today’s FCC open meeting, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler suggested that Comcast’s recent announcement of its Xfinity TV Partner Program and partnerships with Roku and Samsung, which allow viewers to access their subscription TV service without any set-top box, was proof that his proposed set-top box mandate can be implemented without the many negative consequences critics have identified:

“I think that what Comcast just did is proving our point that you can take a third-party device, put set-top box functionality into it and protect copyright, protect the economic ecosystem, not have to rebuild the network, and all these other horrible things that the industry has tracked out.”

The Future of TV Coalition issued the following statement rejecting Chairman Wheeler’s attempts to conflate app-based, enforceable solutions like Comcast’s partnerships with the radical mandate he has actually proposed:

“We’re glad that Chairman Wheeler has noticed that the marketplace is already producing real technology solutions enabling a growing number of consumers to watch pay TV programming without a set-top box.  But these market-driven, app-based solutions bear no resemblance to the sweeping, Google-backed mandate he has proposed. The Chairman’s mandate strips content creators and providers of the tools they use to enforce licensing agreements and protect copyrights, while increasing consumer costs and weakening consumer privacy protections.  This is why a growing chorus of voices from diverse advocacy organizations, the creative community, and lawmakers in Congress are speaking out against Chairman Wheeler’s unnecessary and harmful mandate.

“As the Chairman seems to acknowledge in his comments, the app approach that the industry has championed as the solution for viewing Pay TV content on third party equipment does so effectively and in a manner that avoids all the privacy and copyright harms we have identified.  Everyone wins with the app approach.”


The Downloadable Security Technical Advisory Committee, convened to study this issue last year, laid out two competing approaches: A Google-authored model mirroring the AllVid plan previously considered by the FCC in 2010, and an “apps” model, in which a customer’s pay-TV programming is deployed to competitive, third-party devices through apps.

The AllVid model:

  • Mandates standards that haven’t been invented yet.
  • Forces pay-TV providers to make their programming freely available in three unbundled data streams under new technical standards that will take far more than 2 years to develop and longer to implement.
  • Will allow third-party devices or apps to repackage these unbundled streams into competing services, without having to compensate content owners or negotiate licensing rights.
  • Will allow third-party devices or apps to ignore the terms of licensing agreements negotiated between content owners and distributors.
  • Will allow third-party devices or apps to layer in additional advertising.
  • Will prevent TV providers from having any contractual relationship with these third-party devices and apps that could allow licensing terms and restrictions to be enforced.
  • Does not extend Communications Act viewer privacy protections to consumers watching TV through a third-party device.

The Apps model:

  • Makes pay-TV programming available on a wide range of consumer-owned devices, alongside apps from competing streaming services.
  • Is already working in the marketplace today to increase consumers’ choices.
  • Preserves contracts to ensure enforcement of all programmers’ and others’ licensing rights.
  • Preserves consumers’ federal privacy protections under the Communications Act.

Chairman Wheeler’s proposed set-top box mandate embraced the Google-backed “AllVid” model. By contrast, the Comcast partnerships announced last week with Samsung and Roku rely on the “apps” model – not the unbundled “three data streams” required under the proposed mandate.

See the original article at: Press Release