Wheeler tells lawmakers no study is needed for his set-top proposal

Responding to requests from 55 Congressional lawmakers to conduct a market study before moving forward with his "Unlock the Box" proposal, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler pushed back with a series of letters to these legislators.

"The notice-and-comment process, as well as subsequent ex parte communications, will constitute the most complete and thorough examination of this issue ever undertaken or contemplated," Wheeler said in a letter addressed to Alma Adams (D-NC). 

"Already, the record contains over 104,000 comments representing a broad range of viewpoints and data," Wheeler added. "This includes both theoretical economic studies, as well as real-life experiences."

The FCC has already conducted much of the requisite research itself, Wheeler noted.

"In order to provide guidance to commenters, we specifically requested information from all sides on the issues you raise in your letter -- the impact on all parties in the video marketplace, the impact on content diversity and intellectual property, and the impact on consumer privacy as well as many other topics," he said. 

Wheeler received the request last month from the bi-partisan collection of lawmakers. 

"In order to evaluate the current marketplace and to assess the potential impact of the proposed rules, we believe it is essential for independent, peer-reviewed studies to be completed of current developments towards market-based solutions and of the potential costs and benefits of the proposed rules, including the impact of the proposed rules on diversity of programming, independent and minority television programming, content protection and consumer privacy," the letter said. 

Separately, Republicans controlling the House Appropriations Committee have released a plan that would cut the FCC's budget by 18 percent and block the agency's ability to enforce its net neutrality rules and to adopt its proposed new regulations on set-tops. 

It would require the FCC to commission a "peer-reviewed" study of the set-top proposal at an institution of higher education. Another 90-day commenting period would be needed, followed by a 180-day waiting period during which the FCC could take no action. 

For more:
- read these letters from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler
- read this story from The Hill

Related articles:
Congress warns FCC that set-top proposal could hurt small cable operators
GOP-controlled House committee seeks to gut FCC authority, kill set-top proposal
Comcast, NCTA join all-out reply comment assault on FCC set-top proposal

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