President Obama has taken a stand on set-top boxes, which have become a hot topic after the FCC issued proposals aimed at opening up the set-top box market.
The Washington Post reports that Obama weighed in with his support of the agency’s proposals.
“President Obama is demanding better, cheaper versions of the cable boxes that millions of Americans use to browse their pay-TV channels, in hopes of enhancing competition,” The Post reports. “The Obama administration pressed for changes to the cable box in a letter to federal regulators Thursday night, according to multiple people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the filing is not yet public.”
The report adds: “Obama’s move effectively throws the full weight of his office behind the Federal Communications Commission, which has taken the lead role in trying to crack open the market for TV set-top boxes. Millions of Americans pay, on average, more than $200 a year to rent their boxes from a cable or satellite provider.”
The report quotes a blog item posted today by Jeff Zients and Jason Furman, two of Obama’s top economic advisers, who wrote: “Instead of spending nearly $1,000 over four years to lease a set of behind-the-times boxes, American families will have options to own a device for much less money that will integrate everything they want — including their cable or satellite content, as well as online streaming apps — in one, easier-to-use gadget.”
The Obama administration’s stance drew a quick reaction from the Future of TV Coalition, which opposes the initiative.
In a statement today, the coalition focused on Google’s involvement in the initiative, writing: “We all agree on the goal of greater consumer choice in video devices. But we disagree strenuously (as does so much of the television ecosystem) with Google’s viewpoint that the only way to get more choice and innovation is through a FCC technology mandate that will decimate the creative industry, rip up licensing protections, tear down the value of content, and strip away consumer privacy protections. The video marketplace has never been more dynamic or competitive, and consumers have more choices for services and devices than ever before. It’s exactly the wrong time for the FCC to get into the business of designing set-top boxes and locking consumers into outdated technology.”