FCC Alters Cable Box Rules To Please Industry

Cable TV Alternatives

The Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission has aborted its original plan to make changes to the set top box industry and have accepted the alternative plan that was put forward by the cable companies.

In the month of February, the FCC voted 3-2 for a proposal that would force the cable TV providers and companies to offer video and programming information to manufacturers of third party set top boxes and applications. Under the plan, manufacturers of other software and devices could make their own software and interfaces, making use of which, the cable TV users could watch their favorite programs.

Many of the cable TV companies, including Comcast, claimed that the original proposal from FCC is very difficult to comply with and asked to have control over the user interface. Cable TV industry put forward an alternative plan, in which the TV providers can make their own apps for the third party devices.

After months of discussions and negotiations, the Democratic majority of FCC has accepted the concept of the industry proposal, but they accepted it with some key changes that the cable industry does not approve of. Cable TV providers have urged FCC to accept the industry proposal without making any changes and they continued to oppose in meetings with officials of FCC.

Changes To Industry App Plans

The industry proposal from cable TV providers requires cable company apps to have linear and on demand content. This means that the users will not have the ability to record until they get a set top box. However, the FCC needs cable companies to offer recording functionality in their apps.

Secondly, cable TV providers insisted in making their applications using HTML5 only. The FCC will need to the pay TV operators to make use of whatever technology to reach the devices that are used by the consumers. Cable companies can use HTML5, but if a platform needs some other standards, they will need to provide it.

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Pay TV Providers

This does not mean that the pay TV operators need to make apps for every set top box, but the FCC will need apps for all widely deployed platforms. “Pay-TV providers must provide their apps to widely deployed platforms, such as Roku, Apple iOS, Windows and Android,” an FCC fact sheet said. “Doing so will spur competition in the marketplace to develop new competitive products like next-generation streaming devices, smart TVs and tablets.”

It seems that viewers will need to wait until cable TV providers and FCC reach a solution to the problem.