ACA pleads to roll back set-top regulations for smaller providers

Now playing from behind, American Cable Association (ACA) officials met with FCC officials last week in an attempt to walk back the agency's new set-top box regulation proposal.

The Feb. 5 and Feb. 8 meetings, detailed in a Tuesday ACA ex parte filing, included FCC Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Reilly, as well as Ross Lieberman, senior VP of government affairs for the ACA. 

According to the ex parte, the cable lobby asked the commissioners to "take account of the fact that smaller providers are increasingly offering innovative ways for subscribers to access video services over a wide array of devices. In addition to providing access to their own programming over mobile devices and retail in-home equipment such as Roku devices and gaming consoles, more and more small and medium-size multichannel video programming distributors ('MVPDs') are working with TiVo to provide their customers with whole-home/multiscreen solutions and access to OTT services like Netflix."

The cable industry is still reeling from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal late last month to "unlock" the pay-TV set-top leasing business and open it to third-party device makers like Google and TiVo. 

"If the commission does move forward with its proposal, it should seek comment on whether and how to provide relief to smaller operators," the ACA said in its ex parte. "ACA reiterated its previously expressed concerns that the device proposal would prove unduly burdensome, particularly for smaller MVPDs. ACA reminded the commission that it has regularly provided exemptions and compliance deadline extensions for smaller providers from obligations to deploy new equipment or to meet new technical requirements, and stated that the pending rulemaking should seek comment on why similar relief should not be provided for these providers, which serve roughly 6 percent of all TV households."

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