President Obama pushes for competition of set-top cable, satellite TV boxes

16 April 2016

President Obama is pushing to promote competition in the market for set-top cable and satellite TV boxes.

Viewers are currently forced to rent the set-top boxes from their TV providers, while the Federal Communications Commission wanted to make it easier for viewers to buy the devices.

According to FCC estimates, subscribers paid $231 a year on average to rent the bulky boxes that allowed them to watch cable or satellite TV. Earlier this year, the agency sought to ease outright purchase of the boxes.

This would require TV channels selling their content to third-party groups like Google and others who would sell their own devices.

In an interview with Yahoo News, president Obama said, a little competition was a good idea.

He said, "The cable or satellite box is just one example of an area where because it's been tied to the provider and you rent it and consumers spend billions of dollars on this every single year, there hasn't been much innovation. And so the FCC is looking, independently of anything we do here at the White House, at whether it makes sense to open that up to competition."

According to a study by two US senators, 99 per cent of cable TV subscribers rented their set-top boxes and paid on average $231 a year to do so.

"Across the board, if we have more players who can potentially participate, fewer barriers to entry, the rules aren't rigged, then you get more people trying  to get your business and you get better products at cheaper prices," Obama said.

Reacting to the president's endorsement of the FCC action, former FCC chairman Michael Powell, who now heads the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, said in a blog post that the White House was injecting "politics and inflammatory rhetoric into a regulatory proceeding by what is supposed to be an independent agency."

 search domain-b