Editorial: No Rush

FCC should take its time with set-top proposal

The FCC should be in no rush to push through a set-top box revamp proposal that has drawn fire—or at least warning shots—from Hollywood studios, multichannel video programming distributors, software developers and both Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

All sides say they support developing a real market for third-party navigation devices, and they should. When 99% of cable boxes are leased, then there is clearly an untapped market out there.

There is also a value in making it easier to search for content in one place.

But so far, the two proposals offered up by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler have met with resistance over legitimate concerns about privacy, contracts and copyrights.

Wheeler has told Capitol Hill that proposal, which would create a standards body to approve a new navigation app developed by MVPDs, would not create a new shadow copyright office under the FCC’s control and would protect contracts and copyrights.

But considering the bipartisan, pan-industry concerns, the proposal clearly needs more work.

Wheeler has scheduled a vote for Sept. 29 on that latest set-top proposal. Given that it would be at least a couple of years before his new app-based approach could take effect anyway, delaying that vote and taking another crack at getting it right is the better course.