FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has issued proposed set-top box rules that aim to bring more choice to the video market and reduce the need for consumers to rent out devices from MVPDs.
The proposal, billed as “simplified consumer-first, app-driven” rules, will be voted on the by the commission at its next open meeting, set for Sept. 29.
In a fact sheet outlining the details of the proposal, the rules, if adopted, will give the largest U.S. pay-TV providers, serving 95% of the nation’s pay TV subs, two years to come into compliance.
According to the proposal, the rules will require pay TV to offer consumers a free app, controlled by the MVPD, to access all the programming they pay for on a variety of devices, including tablets, smartphones, gaming systems, streaming devices or smart TVs. That, in turn, will mean consumers are no longer required to rent boxes from their provider.
Pay-TV providers are also required to provide their apps to widely deployed platforms, such as Roku, iOS, Windows and Android.
The rules also call on MVPDs to support integrated search for linear and VOD, alongside other video services accessible on the device, such as OTT offerings. Pay-TV providers would also be barred from discriminating search results or promoting the pay-TV app over other sources of programming in the search function.