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Public interest groups urge new FCC rules for TV set-top boxes

Consumer interest groups filed a petition to the Federal Communications Commision Friday, asking for new rules intended to bring more competition to the market for set-top boxes, the devices that act as the gateway to your television.

In their petition, Public Knowledge, Free Press, Media Access Project and Consumers Union, called the agency to create rules requiring cable and satellite operators to operate on a standard platform for the boxes that deliver their services. Currently, each Internet and video service provider has individual standards, making it difficult for the makers of set-top boxes to sell their devices to a broad range of customers, the groups said.

The FCC is already reviewing competition and innovation in the set top box market. The agency believes those boxes could be Internet-enabled and become a gateway for broadband users. But most boxes don't combine Internet service with cable or satellite video service and there are only about 14 different devices on the market that are typically leased directly by a service provider.

"We're saying that we’re past the inquiry phase and we want rules that would create an industry of set-top boxes in any consumer electronics store on an open platform as opposed to rent configured for a cable system," said Art Brodsky, spokesman for Public Knowledge. "Right now, the guys who want to make devices are thwarted at every turn."

Please take a look at previous coverage on this issue.

By Cecilia Kang  |  December 18, 2009; 12:05 PM ET
Categories:  FCC , Online Video  
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