Editorial: Set-Top Set-To

Chairman Wheeler needs to make sure copyrights, ad models and privacy are protected

The FCC may want to rethink its set-top proposal. Chairman Tom Wheeler recently signaled he thinks the proposal is the right way to go and he is pushing ahead. But that comes against some major players pushing back, including many from Wheeler’s own party.

Promoting retail set-tops, or more likely video navigation through apps, is the right instinct. But when that means relying on the Google’s of the world to self-police their data practices, the price becomes pretty steep.

The price of renting a cable box is one of the chairman’s main talking points, but a lot of the folks pushing back don’t have a vested interest in maintaining cable rental fees.

When the Motion Picture Association of America, the Independent Film & Television Alliance, Screen Actors Guild and more than two dozen other content-related parties agree there are problems with the proposal, it is not easily dismissed as an example of the traditional camps acting according to form.

Add in that major Democratic legislators have joined Republicans in pushing back on the proposal, and it is hard to treat it as a traditional political divide.

And toss in the diversity groups and the companies represented by the Association of National Advertisers—hundreds of companies, from Ace Hardware to Xerox—and, well, you get the idea.

So, if the FCC is going to proceed down this road, the chairman needs to be as good as his word about modifying it to make sure it protects copyrights and ad models and privacy, which a lot of folks say it does not now do.