Congress warns FCC that set-top proposal could hurt small cable operators

A bi-partisan group of U.S. Senators has written FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, warning him that his "Unlock the Box" set-top proposal could harm smaller cable operators.

"Small providers will not be able to afford the costs that could be associated with building a new architecture to comply with the proposed rule," said the group of 10 Senators, which included members of the Senate Small Business Committee.

"Even if the Commission considered relief for small operators, the risks that the FCC's proposal poses to them and to consumers do not go away with an exemption," the Senators added. "When equipment suppliers, programmers, and other vendors are compelled to meet a new standard, it often leaves small operators with no alternative choice but to comply. Moreover, they are often left with the highest costs and the least support."

The letter from the bi-partisan coalition represents a lobbying victory for the organization that reps smaller operators, the American Cable Association.

"ACA applauds this bipartisan group of senators for standing up for consumers in hard-to-reach rural areas who depend on vital services from smaller pay-TV providers," said ACA President and CEO Matthew Polka, in a statement. 

"The Senators, consistent with ACA's own advocacy at the FCC, rightly point out the harm the FCC's set-top box proposal would have on these consumers and their providers," Polka added. "As ACA has previously noted, the FCC's proposal would force more than 200 small providers to either go out of business or cease offering video service, leaving their customers with fewer competitive options.  ACA would especially like to thank Sens. Daines and Tester for bringing together this bipartisan group of their colleagues to raise the alarm about the burden of this proposal on those who can least afford to comply."

For more:
- read this letter to the FCC

Related articles:
GOP-controlled House committee seeks to gut FCC authority, kill set-top proposal
Comcast, NCTA join all-out reply comment assault on FCC set-top proposal
AT&T: FCC set-top proposal is a 'radical unbundling scheme'

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