Advanced Television

Obama ‘open STB’ stance criticised

April 18, 2016

By Colin Mann

Following Present Obama’s call for the FCC to open up set-top cable boxes to competition, two influential lobbying bodies have unsurprisingly queried the White House’s intervention.

According to Digital Citizens Alliance Executive Director Tom Galvin. it is “simply bewildering” that President Obama would come out in support of the FCC’s proposal to change the way US citizens watch television at home. “The FCC’s set-top box proposal raises serious issues about privacy and data collection of children’s viewing habits. These are issues the White House has expressed concern about in the past, but seems to ignore now.”

“Americans, however, remain concerned. The majority of Americans in a recent poll said the FCC’s set-top box proposal was a bad idea and over 60 per cent are concerned about companies such as Google collecting information about their children’s viewing habits and interests.”

“So President Obama has to decide which side he’s on – the privacy interests of consumers or enabling a tech giant such as Google to get a little richer.”

“In an effort to promote set-top box alternatives, the FCC cannot take the intellectual property of one industry and give it to another,” said MPAA Chairman and CEO Senator Chris Dodd. “Chairman Wheeler has maintained he has no intention of doing so, but the proposal’s current wording does not provide the guarantees copyright holders must have. To respect copyright and the programming agreements copyright holders have with their distributors, any FCC rules must explicitly prohibit third parties from using content without seeking permission from and compensating the copyright holders; from manipulating the content, the way it is presented, or otherwise deviating from conditions in the licensing agreement with the pay-TV provider; from selling advertising in conjunction with the programming; from monetising the viewing habits of subscribers; or from presenting pirated content alongside licensed content. If the goal is simply to enable viewers to access pay-TV service on third-party devices and applications, meeting these requirements should not be a problem. These are the issues we will focus on as the proceeding continues.”

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