The Federal Communications Commission has a plan to make cable TV providers offer apps that can be used on devices manufactured by tech firms like Apple or Roku. FCC says that Americans spend billions of dollars every year to rent cable boxes and they believe that there is a better way to simplify this.
FCC representatives said that the new rule would provide more choices to users and would make it easy for them to search for and find videos and shows that they need to watch. The January proposal of FCC was opposed by TV and cable industries and was also criticized by the US copyright office. This made the Commission release a revised plan and this plan adopts some cable industry suggestions.
The FCC’s five commissioners will vote on the new plans later in the month. If the plan is approved, most of the cable users could select another device to watch cable within two years. The changes would succeed the CableCard, which users can stick into another box to watch cable channels. You can make use of a cable box to watch channels, but might need other devices like Xbox, Roku, or Apple TV, if you wish to watch videos from Hulu, Netflix, or other internet based services.
The Commission also needs popular gadgets to have access to cable channels. Initially, FCC needed to force cable and satellite TV companies to offer video feeds and channel data to such gadgets, but that led to fears that manufacturers of the devices would not respect the agreements made between cable operators and entertainment firms. There were also worries about the device manufacturers inserting their own advertisements.
Cable industry suggested plans that would allow operators to develop apps and the FCC agreed. FCC will also oversee an industry group that develops the standard for how apps work on devices. In addition, the Commission will have the authority to change the agreement terms if it thinks that the agreements are damaging competition.
A group of entertainment conglomerates that includes Walt Disney, Time Warner, and 21st Century Fox, has expressed their concern on search capabilities that are offered under the new plan. They worry that users who search for TV shows will watch only free unlicensed episodes that will be shown near to the cable company version and this can lead to people cancelling their cable subscription for cable TV alternatives.