Rosenworcel sides with Pai and O'Rielly, agrees Wheeler set-top proposal is 'flawed'

Subjected to more than three hours of grilling, along with her FCC Commission colleagues, by a House subcommittee Tuesday, Jessica Rosenworcel strongly hinted that she has turned against FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler's pay-TV set-top box regulatory proposal.

Directed by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) to answer only "yes" or "no" to a series of pointed questions, Democrat Rosenworcel joined Republican FCC Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly in answering in the affirmative to the query, "Do you agree that the initial FCC set-top proposal is flawed?"

Rosenworcel also answered "yes" to the question, "Do you agree that if the FCC is to move forward, it should follow a different approach than outlined in the NPRM?"

Rosenworcel holds the swing vote in Wheeler's quest for formal adoption of his "Unlock the Box" NPRM, a proposal the chairman has billed as a means of breaking up the pay-TV industry's monopoly of the set-top leasing business. 

The FCC officials, which also included Wheeler and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, responded to a wide-ranging set of questions Tuesday held by the Communications and Technology subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Issues including broadband privacy regulation were also addressed. But the most pointed dialog focused on the set-top proposals. 

When asked by Blackburn about the pay-TV industry's apps-based "Ditch the Box" counterproposal, for example, Wheeler shot back, "One page is not a proposal, it is a press release."

In his prepared remarks for the subcommittee, Wheeler agreed that the counter-proposal holds "promise." He said he was glad his NPRM had forced pay-TV operators to come to the table with solutions to the set-top issue. 

Wheeler's reluctant acceptance of the counter-proposal's momentum comes as allies in pay TV's fight against his NPRM express surprising opposition to "Ditch the Box," as well.

Today, for example, the American Cable Association asked the FCC not to have its smaller-cable-system members covered by the counter-proposal, fearing its implementation would be too expensive. 

For more:
- read this Consumerist story

Related articles:
Wheeler: 'I'm following Reagan's advice' on set-top regulation
Roku pushes back against pay-TV's 'Ditch the Box' plan in FCC meeting
FCC seeks clarity and detail on 'Ditch the Box'

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