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Future of TV Coalition: ‘Wheeler’s STB gaffe’

The Future of TV Coalition – a diverse group of US programmers, content creators, civic groups and television providers formed to celebrate and promote the thriving innovation that is revolutionising the video viewing experience – has suggested that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler made a serious error in comments made before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee, suggesting that his argument that a sweeping new FCC mandate is necessary to create competition in the marketplace for video navigation devices is misplaced, with his comments contradictory.

In a Statement, Wheeler said: “The interesting thing is that there are today the equivalent of competitive set top boxes available in the market — for instance, Google Chrome[cast]. A lot of things we hear about how this is Google’s big plan to take over cable TV – malarkey. Google Chrome[cast], which attaches into the port in your TV [and] allows you to pull things off of the web, does not violate copyright, does not overlay commercials, does not do all of the horrible things everybody says a set-top box like that would do.”

The Coalition suggested that if the classic Washington definition of a ‘gaffe’ is to accidentally tell the truth, Chairman Wheeler’s comments at the hearing are a whopper. “He admitted, plainly and clearly, that app-powered devices like Chromecast and Roku offer consumers an alternative to traditional set-top boxes and are readily available in the marketplace. Which begs the question — why is the Chairman so desperate to solve a problem that he admits does not exist,” it asks.

“Chairman Wheeler correctly points out that apps-driven innovation is already allowing consumers to watch video on a wide range of devices — without hurting small and independent programmers, invading privacy, or undermining copyright protections. Why then is he proposing a sweeping mandate that explicitly rejects this apps approach and strips TV providers of the technical and contractual tools they currently use to ensure these protections remain in place,” it says.

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