FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Gets It All Wrong Again!

By Paul Maxwell Report Archives
Cover image for  article: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Gets It All Wrong Again!

Yep, we're still talking about the glorious Set-Top Box Initiative (STB)!  Let's recap slightly.  After running both the National Cable Telecommunications Association and CTIA: The Wireless Association, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler should understand both industries.  And maybe he does.  Maybe he just wants both to be more like him: opinionated and stubborn.

While he says he wants an open market for set-top boxes, he really means he wants a market that he likes … not one that a free market is now driving toward.  Wheeler seems to want a market that will take some time and some changes to how most things are now done.  I'm not talking about the leasing of the boxes. I'm talking about copyrights.  Lots have to change if Wheeler has his druthers.

Meanwhile, the market is doing something about it.  TiVo will be the surviving name of the entity encompassing the old Gemstar and STB maker TiVo.  Google's Chromecast, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Xboxes, PlayStations and more already exist. And, glory be!  The second largest deployer/installer of STBs has announced a partnership with Roku … and Samsung smart TVs (with no monthly fee!). Wheeler says that shows why his proposal is right … he'd rather write a law and force Comcast (yes, they are No. 2; AT&T is No. 1) and every other infrastructure to just do it his way.  Never mind the market forces.  Let's do it the government way!

Again, meanwhile, market forces continued to move.  Hulu wants to create something like Sling.  Sony failed at it.  Verizon wants to try, too. 

MediaVillage editor Ed Martin recently asked, ""Is This (STB) the Beginning of the End for Cable?" I think the real answer is not really … this is just another attempt to drive a nail in the coffin lots of folks are assembling.

Random Notes

By the way, an FCC report outlines the number of downloaded apps for Android, iPhone and iPads at some 51,556,400 instances.  But, you know, we need a law to make sure we can do that!

INTX (once the NCTA annual cable show) starts in Boston on Sunday, May 15.  Hope to see many of you there.  As a long time Cable TV Pioneer, I'm looking forward to Sunday night's annual dinner as good friend and head of Viamedia Mark Lieberman, will join as one of the newest Pioneers.  And Monday night will bring new members of The Cable Center Hall of Fame … joining will be Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, Pat Esser, John D. Evans, Tom Rogers, Robert J. Stanzione and John O. "Dubby" Wynne.

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