Markey Praises FCC Effort to “Unlock the Box” and Ensure Choice in Pay-TV Video Box Marketplace

As co-author of the ’96 Telecommunications Act, Senator Markey has long championed competition and choice in accessing video programming

Boston (February 18, 2016) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, released the following statement after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today voted to start a rulemaking that will help ensure that Americans can use set top boxes of their choice to access video programming. 

“For more than two decades, the cable industry has sought to control all consumer video interfaces, leaving Americans with no choice but to lease their box from their television provider. The results have been bloated rental fees, little choice and nearly non-existent competition in the video box marketplace. The FCC’s new framework for innovators and companies to develop new technologies that allow consumers to access video programming without having to rent a box from their pay-TV provider is smart, fair and a long time in coming. The FCC’s action will help ensure that consumers are not captive to high video box leasing fees forever.


“With today’s announcement on set-top boxes, FCC stands for Furthering Competition and Choice. I commend FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler for his leadership and efforts to fulfill the promise to American consumers in the 1996 Telecommunications Act of a competitive and robust video box market.”


In 2015, Senators Markey and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) released findings from their investigation of the pay set-top box market, revealing that the average household spends more than $231 annually on video box rental fees. The investigation also found that approximately 99 percent of customers rent their set-top box directly from their pay-TV provider and the set-top box rental market may be worth more than $19.5 billion per year.