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Comcast: Set-Top Box Proposal Fails on All Counts - Broadcasting & Cable

Comcast: Set-Top Box Proposal Fails on All Counts

Unnecessary tech mandate won't promote competition, will hurt pay-TV system, copyright protections
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Comcast says the FCC's set-top box proposal "disregards copyright protections and licensing agreements; threatens to halt the unbridled innovation that has permeated the video marketplace for years; requires new in-home equipment; and strips consumers of privacy protections and legal remedies."

That came in reply comments to the FCC's proposal to make MVPDs share set-top content and user data with third party navigation devices.

Comcast tried to use FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's own words against him.

“Congress was clear. They said there should be competition. Now technology has advanced to a point where this is possible without changing the functioning of the pay-TV system and its copyright protections and its security," Comcast quotes Wheeler as saying in voting for the proposal Feb. 19.

"The record compiled in this proceeding makes clear that the Chairman’s statement above was entirely correct," Comcast said. But the company also said that the record "demonstrates that the complex, costly, and backward-looking technology mandate envisioned by this Notice (referred to herein as the 'Set-Top Box Mandate') fails each of these tests and does not align with the Chairman’s statement."

To proceed on the same course, Comcast said, would be to ignore the weight of evidence on the other side from "MVPDs, programmers, content creators, diversity advocates, labor organizations, economists, environmentalists, [and] policy analysts."

Comcast argues that the only parties backing the FCC proposal are the same groups that backed the 2010 AllVid proposal and companies that will reap a windfall by not having to follow the same rules as MVPDs. Not to mention, though it did, an "unnecessary and costly technology mandate that would likely be obsolete before it could even be implemented.

The company also points to a host of legal issues. It says the proposal exceeds the FCC's "limited authority" under Sec. 629 of the Communications Act (which instructs it to promote navigation device competition), runs afoul of copyright and intellectual property protections, and violates the First Amendment.

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