FCC seeks clarity and detail on 'Ditch the Box'

FCC staffers have furnished the NCTA and other backers of the 'Ditch the Box' proposal with a detailed list of questions about their alternative suggestion for opening the pay-TV ecosystem to third-party devices. 

According to the list, obtained by Broadcasting & Cable, FCC officials agree on a number of key points regarding the cable industry's proposal, which is underpinned by the use of HTML5-based opens using open standards.

The questions generally seek clarity on a broad list of agreeable components 

"Please clarify which MVPDs have HTML5 apps today and the expected timeframe for the other MVPDs to develop an app," the memo said. "To the extent that larger MVPDs already have apps available, what amount of work is required to meet these commitments?

"Once the apps are developed will the MVPDs scale back their deployment of set top boxes?" the FCC also wants to know. 

Among a litany of other questions, the FCC also asked about program rights relating to migrating user functionality to apps. Will further negotiation with programmers be required?

And what devices features not supported by MVPD apps. For example, will Siri be able to turn close-captioning on and off on iOS devices?

Also on the agenda: The licensing model for MVPD apps. "Would each device manufacturer need a license, or if the manufacturer relies on a widely deployed platform (Android) would only the platform need to enter into a license with the MVPD?"

The FCC also asked, "How are advertising rights and consumer protections communicated to the manufacturer?"

Last month, the cable industry rendered its apps-based "Ditch the Box" proposal as an alternative to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's unpopular "Unlock the Box" NPRM. Backed by the National Cable Telecommunications Association, Ditch the Box has gained traction as Wheeler's proposal has undergone scrutiny by Congressional lawmakers, as well as FCC Commissioners themselves. 

For more:
- read this Broadcasting & Cable story

Related articles:
CBS, Viacom, 21st Century Fox, others support pay-TV's 'Ditch the Box' proposal, albeit with caveats
FCC's Wheeler may bow to pressure, could change 'Unlock the Box' set-top proposal
Wheeler may be losing FCC Democratic support for set-top proposal

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