FCC pulls vote on TV set-top box plan in final minutes

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The Federal Communications Commission pulled a vote on a contentious proposal to open up the market for television set-top boxes from its agenda minutes before the start of its monthly meeting on Sept 29. The delay is a blow to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who had been pitted against the pay-television industry in a fight over the reforms. “We have made tremendous progress — and we share the goal of creating a more innovative and inexpensive market for these consumer devices,” said Chairman Wheeler and the agency’s other two Democratic commissioners, Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel. “We are still working to resolve the remaining technical and legal issues and we are committed to unlocking the set-top box for consumers across this country.” The item now remains on “circulation,” in the parlance of the agency, meaning it is being weighed by the commissioners.

An industry trade association, NCTA -- The Internet and Television Association, said they were pleased with the FCC’s move. “We are pleased that the FCC has chosen to delay consideration of its set-top box item and hope that additional time will lead to meaningful public review and comment on any newly-crafted proposal under consideration.” Sen Ed Markey (D-MA), a vocal advocate for the reforms, said he was frustrated by the delay. "Today’s vote delay is an unequivocal loss for the tens of millions of Americans across the country who are forced to spend their hard-earned money on overpriced set-top box leases that cost them hundreds of dollars a year," he said. "I am extremely disappointed that the majority of the FCC Commissioners have not yet come to an agreement to provide relief for consumers for these bloated set-top box rental fees and certainty to companies who wish to innovate with new products."

FCC pulls vote on TV set-top box plan in final minutes Statement from FCC Chairman Wheeler, Commissioner Clyburn and Commissioner Rosenworcel on Set-Top Box Proposal (Wheeler, Clyburn, and Rosenworcel Statement) FCC Postpones Vote on TV Set-Top Box Plan (WSJ) FCC delays cable TV apps vote, needs time to work out licensing (ars technica) Industry Players Praise FCC's Pulling Set-Top Item (Multichannel News) Upton, Walden, Pai to Wheeler: Unlock the Plan (Multichannel News) Here’s Why Your Cable Box Just Won Its Latest Bout With The FCC (Fast Company) FCC Delays “Unlock the Box” Proposal Vote (PK) Delay in Set-Top Box Vote Keeps Americans Waiting for Relief from Pay-TV Price-Gouging (Free Press) Statement of NCTA Regarding the FCC Pulling Set-Top Box item From Today's Meeting Agenda (NCTA) AT&T Statement on FCC's Decision to Delay Vote on Set-Top Box Proposal (AT&T)