FCC Scuttles Set-Top Box Vote


In a statement released at 10am Thursday (Sept. 29), FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Democratic commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel announced that the controversial vote on the set-top box has been removed from the agenda of today’s Open Meeting.

This means, officially, that the proposal “will go on the Commission’s circulation list and remain under consideration” by the FCC.

Two names were absent from the release — that of Republican commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly.

In a joint statement from Wheeler and the two Democrats on the FCC, they stood by their call for a change to the “costly set-top boxes” cable companies use to bring services to consumers across the U.S.

“It’s time for more ways to watch and more lower-cost options.  That’s why we have been working to update our policies under Section 629 of the Communications Act in order to foster a competitive market for these devices.  We have made tremendous progress – and we share the goal of creating a more innovative and inexpensive market for these consumer devices.  We are still working to resolve the remaining technical and legal issues and we are committed to unlocking the set-top box for consumers across this country.”

However, Rosenworcel had been vocal in her concerns about the Wheeler-drafted proposal, and reported meetings yesterday held to review and remove certain parts of the set-top box plan seemingly failed to meet her approval.

Thus, with Rosenworcel clearly the decision-maker, Wheeler pulled his plan rather than see it go down by a 3-2 vote.

Response on the removal of the STB vote from the meeting agenda was instantly greeted with praise by the NCTA – The Internet & Television Association. In a statement, the newly renamed organization said, “We are pleased that the FCC has chosen to delay consideration of its set-top box item, and hope that additional time will lead to meaningful public review and comment on any newly-crafted proposal under consideration.”