Roku pushes back against pay-TV's 'Ditch the Box' plan in FCC meeting

Roku, which has supported the cable industry in its effort to stop FCC regulation of pay-TV set-tops, has pushed back against the industry's alternative plan to create an app-based distribution standard based on HTML5.

In a meeting with top aides to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, Roku's Steve Shannon, GM of content and services, along with various members of the OTT device maker's legal team, called the HTML5 approach "ill-advised given that consumers have clearly demonstrated their preference for an array of devices with diverse user experiences at various price points, which has spurred competition and innovation in the marketplace." 

Shannon and his team also called HTML5 "a bulky and expensive architecture that would require third-party device manufacturers to include additional processing power and memory to support it, even in their lowest-priced devices."

The Roku team stood by its claim that the FCC's original "Unlock the Box" proposal is "counter-productive," as well. 

The company also called on the FCC not to permit MVPDs to "support third-party development within the app that the MVPD uses to satisfy its obligations under any new set-top box regulations."

"Allowing third-party app development within MVPD's qualifying app would undermine the competition that the commission seeks to promote among navigation devices by enabling the MVPD's app to become a single point of access for all content," Roku said.

The FCC, Roku added, should also adopt regulations that require MPVDs to "fully support content provider apps that deliver content directly to users who are paying for such content as part of an MVPD's programming package."

And rather than trying to "predict all technical and legal issues that could promote or thwart competition in the future," Roku said, the FCC should "adopt a general non-discrimination standard that prevents MVPDs from adopting practices or requirements that might result in a user experience on third-party devices that is substantially dissimilar from the user experience available on MVPD-supplied set-top boxes."

For more:
- read this Roku ex parte filing

Related articles:
FCC seeks clarity and detail on 'Ditch the Box'
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

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