FCC's Pai Pulls Set-Top Proposal

No longer on list of items on circulation

Former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal to revamp set-tops is no longer on the FCC's list of items on circulation to be voted by the other commissioners.

Top House Republicans had asked chairman Ajit Pai last week to close the book on the proposal, which he and they had opposed. Neither Pai nor fellow Republican Michael O'Rielly were likely to vote on it anyway, but the move makes it official that it is no longer in front of any of the commissioners for a decision.

The Motion Picture Association of America, which had opposed the plan over concerns with the impact on copyrights of inserting a standards body into an MVPD-supplied app approach to creating competition in video navigation, was pleased.

"The MPAA applauds FCC Chairman Pai’s decision to pull the set-top box proposal from circulation,” said MPAA chairman Chris Dodd. “As the creative community has made clear from the start, we support competition within the set-top box market, but not at the expense of copyright policy or the livelihoods of millions of American creators."

"We are grateful for the support from more than 200 Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate, senior leaders of various government agencies, civil rights and free market organizations, and virtually the entire creative community, including majors and independents, music groups, advocacy organizations, and unions and guilds that collectively represent hundreds of thousands of creative professionals. We are proud to be joined by so many in standing up for copyright and the rights of creators.”

Wheeler proposed requiring MVPDs to make data and program info available to third parties—first devices, then apps—to allow a better co-mingling of traditional and online video. But there was pushback from Republicans and Democrats over issues of copyright protection and the FCC's role in approving an app-based approach to accessing the MVPD content, so Wheeler could not get three votes for the item before time ran out on his tenure, though it still remained on circulation for a vote.