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US trade body the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) has launched a website, ConsumerTVChoice.net, to promote competition and choice in the TV set-top box marketplace.
The Association has supported Congress’s renewal of Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA), which expires at the end 2014, but has also denounced attempts by some lawmakers to add anticompetitive provisions into STELA that would undermine the FCC’s statutory consumer protection mandates regarding open standards for hybrid devices that can access both cable programming and online video.
CCIA President and CEO Ed Black, said that for consumers, competition means lower prices and the ability to watch the content they want on the device of their choosing. “But for us, this is yet another instance of why our organisation came to Washington 40 years ago – to raise awareness when incumbent companies try to snuff out competition and innovation. Someone needs to be asking can we do better? Can we create a climate where the next innovation can flourish? Today the issue is how we watch TV, and that’s important, but the principle behind this issue, competition, which fosters innovation and choice, is one that all who care about the economy and America’s position as an innovator should support whenever these battles arise,” he stated.
“From fighting for the ability of third party developers to write independent software for IBM mainframes, to championing the right of consumers to plug non-AT&T phones into their wall jacks, these battles have been critical to the thriving tech industry we have today. The mainframe battle paved the way for the entire software industry and rise of Silicon Valley. The third-party phone device issue resolution resulted in innovations like the first cordless phones, answering machines, fax machines, computer modems and game consoles,” he advised.
“While it’s impossible to fully predict what further innovations could result from consumers having more freedom to watch content on the device of their choice, it is clear that big cable is resisting change even while more efficient methods of accessing TV and other content are emerging. Our hope in launching this website is to help consumers understand that ability to choose is at risk in Congress-right now- so they can make their views known before it’s too late. Consumers will be the losers if dominant businesses can legislate challengers out of the game,” he warned.