Google-backed third-party set-top coalition launches 'Unlock The Box' website

A Google-backed coalition of tech companies and consumer activist groups has launched a website to support the FCC's proposal to "unlock" the proprietary leased pay-TV set-top business.

Unlockthebox.com declares on its homepage that it seeks to "end the cable boxopoly," while providing an easy one-stop process for the public to offer comments to the FCC on its proposal.

As a call to action, the site includes the same numerical propaganda gathered last year by several Congressional lawmakers using very complete survey data from pay-TV customers — consumers pay an average of $231 a year to lease boxes from their operator, and cost for these boxes has increased 194 percent since 1994, said site operator the Consumer Video Choice Coalition.

The group includes Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), TiVo and Vizio, as well as the Writers Guild of America, Public Knowledge, Common Cause and INCOMPAS.

"Consumers and editorial boards around the nation are praising Chairman Tom Wheeler and the FCC for this effort to end the cable boxopoly," said Chris Lewis of Public Knowledge. "Giving consumers the power to choose their own devices will save money and create new opportunities for minority programmers who have been shut out by big cable companies."

"Unlock the Box is the new cut the cord," added Chip Pickering, CEO of INCOMPAS. "The FCC has the opportunity to let competition unleash innovation in hardware, software and new streaming content."

Meanwhile, on the other side of the set-top debate, the National Urban League has told the FCC that it should hold off on its proposal until it has studies its impact on program diversity. The message came from a signed letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler that included signatures from Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

For more:
- read this Advanced Television story
- read this CED Magazine story
- read this Broadcasting & Cable story

Related articles:
FCC set-top regulation concerns 'overblown,' New Street Research says
Sen. Thune to Wheeler: 'Consumer-empowering disruption already happening' to pay-TV set-top market
Google's master plan for pushing the FCC set-top agenda: Get pay-TV's programmatic dollars

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