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FCC proposal for TV set-top boxes will help promote competition, consumer choice

January 27, 2016

The Federal Communications Commission today announced a proposal to promote greater competition in the TV set-box marketplace, saying “ninety-nine percent of pay-TV subscribers are chained to their set-top boxes because cable and satellite operators have locked up the market.”  The FCC said Chairman Tom Wheeler is circulating for a vote a notice of proposed rulemaking to “tear down anti-competitive barriers and pave the way for software, devices and other innovative solutions to compete with the set-top boxes that a majority of consumers must lease today.”

Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, has pressed the FCC for rules aimed at the set-top box market, saying consumers should have more options for accessing the programming they pay for.

Marta Tellado, President and CEO of Consumer Reports, said, “With the ever-increasing price of cable and all of the advances in technology, why should consumers have to keep renting a set-top box?  This move by the FCC would help bring some competition and innovation to a market that’s in serious need of reform.  Under this proposal consumers could get better choices and save some money.   We’re very pleased that the Commission is moving forward on a rulemaking, and we look forward to continuing to work with them to push for solutions that put consumers first.”

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Contact: David Butler, dbutler@consumer.org, or Kara Kelber, kara.kelber@consumer.org202-462-6262