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FCC approves new STB rule

As anticipated, the US’s Federal Communications Commission has approved a new rule that would allow consumers to swap cable set-top boxes for less expensive devices in what is seen as a major blow to cable operators who had lobbied vociferously against the proposed rulemaking. The 3-2 vote in favour was split along party lines.

“Technology allows it, the industry at one time proposed something similar to it, and the consumers deserve a break and a choice,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said.

Under the rule, makers of alternate devices such as Apple TV and TiVo platforms will gain access to cable and satellite programmes.

In a blog post, Comcast Senior Executive Vice President David Cohen called the rules “anti-consumer” arguing that they marked a “major step backwards for consumers and the video marketplace”

“Unfortunately, the majority of commissioners have chosen to ignore the many voices of reason and instead to pursue a proposal that strays well beyond the FCC’s authority,” he said.

“Given the sunset of the integration ban and the absence of an industry-supported successor to CableCARD, the FCC’s rulemaking is important to ensure choice for consumers, operators, and content creators,” said Matt Zinn, TiVo’s Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer. “We are hopeful that this proceeding results in a competitive environment that increases choice, both for consumers and operators, and protects the business models that operators and device makers have created under the current CableCARD system.”

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