Senators ask pay-TV providers about current set top box marketplace and impact on consumers  


Washington, D.C. (November 20, 2014) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), members of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today called on the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) to use its authority to ensure that consumers have more choices in set top boxes than merely leasing their boxes from their cable company. The Senate is expected to vote soon on the STELAR Reauthorization Act, legislation that includes a provision that will result in more consumers renting their video set top box from their cable provider. Consumers today have little choice in the set top box marketplace, and the vast majority of Americans currently rent a video box from their pay-TV provider.


“Set top boxes have the potential to enable millions of Americans to access an enormous amount of content in innovative, new, and less costly ways,” write the Senators in the letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “Without strong FCC action, consumers may be left with no choice but to rent set top boxes from their cable providers in perpetuity, which is akin to the days when consumers had no choice but to rent their rotary dial telephone from the telephone company.”


A copy of the letter to the FCC can be found HERE.


In an effort to gather more information about the current set top box marketplace, the Senators sent letters to the top-ten pay-TV multichannel video programming distributors (MVPD) asking them to provide their views on the set top box marketplace, including the number of customers, costs and choices for consumers [deleted]. The Senators sent letters to Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network, Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications, AT&T U-Verse, Verizon FiOS Video, Cox Communications, Cablevision Systems and Bright House Networks.


“We believe the need to increase rather than limit consumer choices remains as vital as ever,” write the Senators in the letters to the companies. “Just as consumers can select their mobile phone from an increasing array of models regardless of carrier, consumers today should also be able to choose from a large selection of smart set top box devices.”


A copy of the letters to the top 10 pay-TV providers can be found HERE.