The Future of TV Coalition Statement from the Future of TV Coalition

Statement from the Future of TV Coalition

Future of TV Coalition   •   Press Release   •   June 9, 2016

In advance of a scheduled press conference to be held Thursday morning by supporters of the FCC’s proposed set-top box mandate, the Future of TV Coalition issued the following statement:

This isn’t a debate over whether consumers should have more options for video devices and services – this is a debate about the best approach to achieve this goal.  An overwhelming majority of the voices that have weighed in during this debate point to apps, not box mandates, as the better path forward.

Since the FCC’s “Unlock the Box” mandate was first proposed, a growing chorus of content creators, programmers, distributors, labor organizations, civil rights advocates, economists, tech innovators, and more than 180 bipartisan Members of Congress have voiced concerns, raised direct questions, and suggested clear alternatives.  Yet supporters of the FCC’s plan continue to dodge these tough questions and reject calls for independent analysis.

Instead of simply repeating discredited talking points, we hope that the participants in today’s press conference will finally take the opportunity to acknowledge the flaws in this deeply unpopular mandate and have an honest discussion about alternative app-based approaches that can achieve the same goals without the disastrous side effects.  Here are a few questions they can start with:

  • If the goal is giving consumers more choices and saving money on rental fees, why aren’t boxless alternatives like Charter and Time Warner Cable’s Roku apps and Comcast’s recently announced Xfinity TV Partner Program a better path forward?  Isn’t “no box” a better deal for consumers than “an FCC-designed, mandate-compliant box”?
  • The Digital Living Network Alliance says it would take the FCC years to develop new standards under this rule – far longer than advocates have claimed.  Why should the FCC spend years developing mandatory standards for in-home hardware instead of embracing the app-based alternatives already emerging and gaining popularity in the marketplace that let consumers ditch the box altogether?
  • Dozens of diverse programmers, content creators, and civil rights advocates have warned this proposal threatens the business models of independent networks serving minority audiences.  What benefits would diverse streaming services get from the FCC’s approach that they wouldn’t also get through app-based alternatives, such as Roku, that can already blend pay-TV and streaming content through a unified search interface without undermining licensing agreements?
  • The Electronic Privacy Information Center says the proposal’s toothless privacy self-certification scheme “fails to meaningfully protect consumers.”  Why are Members of Congress who claim to champion consumer privacy backing an FCC proposal that will shred pay-TV customers’ federal privacy rights?
  • Content creators like producers Gale Anne Hurd and Peter Lenkov have warned this proposal would unleash a flood of piracy that would hurt the hundreds of thousands of Americans who make a living producing great TV.  What’s wrong with rules or contract terms that would prohibit search interfaces on new set-top box alternatives from promoting and profiting from pirated or unlicensed content?
  • The creative community overwhelmingly opposes this proposal, from studios, producers, and musicians to unions and guilds. The Directors Guild of America & IATSE say the proposal could “harm our members’ ability to make a living” and IBEW says it “would put tens of thousands of American jobs at risk.”  Is that not too high a price to pay just to give Google free access to TV content, especially when apps-based alternatives already exist that expand consumer device choices without undermining the television economy?

 

See the original article at: Press Release