House Republicans have told incoming FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to take his newfound authority, strike down former Chairman Tom Wheeler’s pay-TV set-top proposal, and his journey to join the powerful forces of deregulation will be complete.
“We are writing to ask that you close the docket on the set-top box proceeding … and signal clearly to consumers, content producers, consumer electronics manufacturers and video programming distributors that the Commission’s consideration of its set-top proposal is at an end,” read a letter (PDF) penned by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and co-signed by 19 other GOP committee members.
In September, Wheeler tabled his highly controversial proposal to open the leased pay-TV set-top business to third-party technology companies. The proposal, which in its final iteration had pay-TV operators rendering their services through apps that could be used on a wide range of third-party devices, was dealt a fatal blow on Nov. 8, when Republicans secured the presidency and both houses of Congress, thus leading to the departure of Democrat Wheeler.
Pai has been a staunch opponent of the set-top proposal from the beginning. And he will soon establish a GOP majority on the agency’s Commission, so the erstwhile “Unlock the Box” isn’t going anywhere soon.
Still, like proverbial downed monster in a horror movie, House Republicans want to drive a stake through the creature’s heart.
"The regulatory overhang of the set-top box regulation has cast a shadow over investment and innovation in traditional video programming delivery," the letter added. "We urge you to close the proceeding and permit the industry to innovate and serve consumers free from the restrictions of a government-chosen platform."