AFL-CIO, DGA other labor guilds continue to kick FCC’s increasingly dead-looking set-top proposal

FCC headquarters
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It’s been a month since FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler pulled his pay-TV set-top regulation proposal from the Commission voting agenda. Wheeler hasn’t plugged the NPRM since, and its mention was conspicuously absent Thursday when he was asked what he’ll do next now that the Commission has approved his rules for ISP privacy. 

Of course, given that there’s a very real possibility that Wheeler will continue on as FCC Chairman under a potential Hillary Clinton administration, it’s too early to call his ever-morphing set-top proposal “dead.”

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Sensing that, several labor guilds continued their ex parte assault on Wheeler’s plan to open the proprietary pay-TV set-top business to third-party device makers. 

“The rules as originally outlined would upend the current content delivery system, potentially leading to fewer resources to invest in quality programming, the network and the people who create and produce content and who build, maintain and service the networks,” said AFL-CIO Government Affairs Director William Samuel, in his ex parte. “The complexity of this industry and the diversity of Americans affected by set-top boxes is extensive. The FCC should strive to work collaboratively with the professionals who derive their livelihood from the content delivered by set-top boxes.”

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That was followed by an ex parte from the Directors Guild of America, which stated, “The letter also reiterated the DGA's concern that the current FCC proposal does not protect DGA members' creative works and will impact their livelihoods and future ability to create the best programming in the world.”

The Department of Professional Employees added, “The potential implications of the FCC’s decision in this matter demand a transparent process. The rules governing set-top boxes substantially affect the livelihoods of people working in the entertainment industry. The women and men who contribute both on and off-screen to the success of creative content depend on copyright protections to earn fair wages and benefits. Sacrificing copyright protections in the name of set-top box competition could upend the economic security of middle-class Americans who work in the entertainment industry.”