Bipartisan Duo Seek Impact Study for FCC’s Set Top Box Proposal

Bipartisan Duo Seek Impact Study for FCC’s Set Top Box Proposal


Bipartisanship may be on the rise in Congress, at least if House Energy and Commerce Committee members Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY) have anything to do with it.  In a joint letter to the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, Walden, who chairs the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, and Clarke have requested an impact study of the Federal Communications Commission’s proposed new set top box proposal.

Voted on during the FCC’s February Open meeting, the proposal “could force multichannel video distributors to allow competitive devices or apps to access programming” without having to negotiate separate licensing and carriage agreements with content providers.

RELATED: The FCC’s Proposal to Unlock the Set-Top Box Could Harm Independent and Minority Programmers

Walden and Clarke said that they “are concerned that the agency’s efforts do not include a meaningful assessment of the effects on independent and diverse networks, whose business models may be greatly threatened and undermined by the FCC’s proposed rules. The FCC must proceed with a better understanding of how their proposed rules could limit diversity and inclusion on our nation’s shared media platforms.”

While Walden and Clarke present a non-exhaustive list of potential subject matter for the impact study to address, some of the issues they raise include questions about:

  • “the ability of small and multicultural media programmers and content providers in negotiating licensing agreements to set distribution terms, including advertising, channel placement, on-demand replays, etc.;”
  • “the value of diverse programming and the ability of diverse and independent networks serving communities to find an audience, survive and thrive in the market place; and”
  • “channel placement, profile, promotion, content protection, subscription revenue, advertising revenue, and the ability to make future investments in quality multicultural programming.”

Walden and Clarke are part of a growing chorus of voices raising concerns about the potentially disparate impact the FCC’s proposed rules will have on diverse content creators, programmers, and the ecosystem of interests touching the video landscape.