FCC set top box vote delayed as hope dwindles

At the start of the year, the FCC announced plans to overhaul the set-top-box market, putting cable providers on guard and earning praise from many consumers. Summer has passed, though, and winter is right on the horizon, with it coming the start of a new year, a new presidential administration, and a quickly dwindling timeframe to get several regulations pushed through. In light of all that, it's no big surprise that the FCC has delayed its set-top-box vote.

Under the proposal, pay TV subscribers won't be chained to their set top boxes and other makers would have the chance to enter the market, giving consumers a wider variety of options rather than using the box their cable or satellite provider offers under a leasing 'option.' Not surprisingly, satellite and cable providers were strongly against the proposal.

The idea of having multiple options for getting cable and satellite service — in terms of the hardware that delivers it — is exciting. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was cited as one of the justifications behind the proposal, and the cable industry ended up offering its own proposal to counter the FCC's effort.

All the excitement and worry may have been for nothing, though, as the FCC has delayed its vote on the proposal. The commission will still consider voting on it in the future, but there doesn't appear to be any hard date or plans in place. More talks are needed, according to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler; he went on to say about the delay, "It was simply a matter of running out of time."

Furthermore, there are signs of contention behind the closed doors, with some commissioners not being on board with the plan. Given the hashing out that is still required — and the short amount of time before another administration goes into power — the FCC will likely focus its effort and time on other proposals that have a better chance of getting through quickly.

SOURCE: New York Times