NCTA chief Powell set to demo current device navigation alternatives

With Google having made the Beltway rounds several months ago, showing off a device that supposedly encompasses FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's plan for unlocking the leased pay-TV set-top, opponents of the proposal have prepped their own presentation.

NCTA chief Michael Powell will deliver that presentation Wednesday morning at his group's D.C. headquarters, purportedly showcasing all the "video device technologies already widely available the marketplace."

The National Cable Telecommunications Association is a member of the Future of TV Coalition, the group assembled to fight Wheeler's proposal to open pay-TV set-top technology to third-party operators including Google and TiVo. That group includes every major pay-TV operator and their lobbying orgs. 

These opponents contend that TV Everywhere has already opened up the device ecosystem to pay-TV services, so regulation isn't required. 

At his Wednesday demo, which is set for 10 a.m. EST at NCTA headquarters, Powell will likely demonstrate this claim. Presenting alongside him will be Neil Fried, senior VP of the Motion Picture Association of America (a Future of TV Coalition member), and Mathew Goldade, director of product management for the AT&T Entertainment Group

"The demonstration will highlight how apps on a wide variety of consumer-owned devices are already allowing viewers to access pay-TV programming and streaming video services on the same device – including options that don't require any set-top box at all," a Future of TV statement announcing the demo said.

For his part, Wheeler doesn't appear poised to abandon his proposal anytime soon.

Speaking at a gathering conducted by INCOMPAS Monday, he said, "Our set-top box item speaks to the issue of competition in the video marketplace as well. Ninety-nine percent of pay-TV customers lease set-top boxes from their cable, satellite or telco providers. On average, consumers are paying $231 a year to rent those boxes, collectively $20 billion. Yes, despite Congress's mandate, they have no competitive choice."

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