Advanced Television

Coalition launches ‘Unlock The Box’ website

March 22, 2016

By Colin Mann

Stepping up its efforts to bring competition to the cable and pay-TV set-top box market in the US, the Consumer Video Choice Coalition (CVCC) – comprised of a diverse group of organisations and companies that believe consumers would benefit from a competitive ecosystem of third-party devices and services that can be used across multichannel video programming distributors’ networks – has launched a new website – Unlock the Box – which asks consumers to contact the FCC and Congress to make their voices heard.

The website points out the difference between the set-top box monopoly, where prices have risen 185 per cent, and more competitive markets for phones, TVs and computers where prices have dropped 90 per cent over the same period.

According to the Coalition, after decades of delay, the FCC has finally taken up the bi-partisan Congressional mandate to bring competition to the cable and pay-TV set-top box market. Consumers are currently being forced to pay $231 per year to rent a box, even though less expensive options are available. The pay-TV industry currently controls 99 per cent of households. It says the FCC proposal has been met with national praise, and is aimed at injecting competition and providing more consumer choice.

“Consumers and editorial boards around the nation are praising Chairman Tom Wheeler and the FCC for this effort to end the cable boxopoly,” said Chris Lewis of Public Knowledge. “Giving consumers the power to choose their own devices will save money and create new opportunities for minority programmers who have been shut out by big cable companies.”

“Unlock the Box is the new cut the cord,” said Chip Pickering, CEO of INCOMPAS. “The FCC has the opportunity to let competition unleash innovation in hardware, software and new streaming content.”

Participants in the new effort include CVCC members Public Knowledge, Consumer Action, Common Cause, New America’s Open Technology Institute, INCOMPAS, CCIA as well as Demand Progress and Fight for the Future.

Categories: Articles, Broadband, Business, Cable, Equipment, In Home, Policy, Regulation, STB