Most people in the United States who pay for TV have to use a set-top-box rented from their cable provider. In February, the Federal Communications Commission voted to adopt an “UnblockTheBox” plan that could change that by requiring TV providers to open up the data streams so that you could access content on something like a Roku, Chromecast, or Apple TV.
But the cable, satellite, and other TV providers are fighting back… saying they’re already starting to do that and that the proposed regulations are unclear, costly, and possibly even dangerous.
The debate is far from over. The FCC is taking public comments on the project through mid-March and a second comment period (for replies) will run for another 30 days after that… and if the FCC decides to move ahead, TV providers will almost certainly take legal action to stop it.
Update 9/8/2016: FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has announced a new compromise that larger adopts the industry’s approach of creating apps that can run on a wide range of platforms including iOS, Android, Roku, and Windows, as well as web apps.
But while the new proposal gives TV providers control over the presentation of their content, it requires them to provide access to their content in universal searches — so users would be able to see on-demand content from Comcast and Netflix in the same search results, for instance.
- Brad Love, senior software engineer at Hauppauge
- Paul Glist, attorney representing the National Cable & Telecommunications Association
- Mari Silbey, senior editor for cable and video at LightReading.com
- Dave Zatz, technology blogger at ZatzNotFunny.com
Special appearances (recorded from an FCC webcast):
- FCC’s “Unlock the Box” page (proposed rule, commissioner statements)
- Read comments that have been submitted to the FCC
- Submit your own comment (use procedure number 16-42)
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