The agenda for the Commission’s February open meeting has a clear unifying theme: expanding consumer choice in the video marketplace.
Headlining next month’s meeting is a proposal to open up the set-top box market to competition. Currently, 99 percent of pay-TV subscribers lease set-top boxes from their providers, paying hundreds in rental fees annually without any meaningful alternatives. Congress has directed the Commission to make sure consumers can choose the equipment they use to access pay-TV. Consistent with this statutory mandate, I will circulate a proposal to tear down barriers that currently prevent innovators from developing new ways to access and enjoy your favorite shows and movies. These new rules would pave the way for a competitive marketplace for new devices and software that enhance the TV-watching experience. For more details, please read my op-ed in Re/Code outlining this proposal.
We not only want consumers to have more choice when it comes to how they access TV, we also want them to have the choice to watch diverse and independent programming. The video marketplace is changing, including the rise of new ways for consumers to access programming. These changes particularly impact diverse and independent programmers that seek carriage and rely on traditional video operators for distribution.
During consideration of the AT&T/DirecTV transaction, Commissioner Clyburn spoke out about the need for the Commission to take a fresh look at the video marketplace and examine the challenges and barriers to expanding the availability of independent and diverse programming. I’ve heard this call loud and clear, and, today, I am circulating a notice of inquiry to build the record on program carriage. The goal of this inquiry is to assess how the Commission could foster greater consumer choice and enhance diversity by eliminating or reducing any barriers experienced by programmers, especially small programmers and new entrants, in reaching consumers.
When consumers have more choices, consumers win. I look forward to working with my colleagues on these proposals to bring more choice and competition to the video marketplace.