FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Scraps Set-Top Proposal – Variety (Jan 31, 2017)
This was inevitable – the STB proposal was one of two issues, along with net neutrality, which the incoming chair of the FCC was expected to dump as he took the helm. And along with net neutrality, these were popular issues championed by consumer rights groups and some big consumer technology companies. However, it’s also true that the impact of ditching these policy issues may not be as widespread as feared – I wrote a piece last week about the real likely impact of net neutrality rules being dismantled, and I’ve always been skeptical that the STB reforms proposed would actually bring about meaningful change in the industry. Previous attempts (see CableCard) had failed, and it wasn’t clear to me that the new approaches would be more user friendly or likely to deliver greater openness around the boxes we get to use to watch TV. Realistically, positive change in the TV market is more likely to come from increasing competitive pressure leading to concessions by major legacy players to the new world order (though we’re not there yet) – and now that the FCC has dropped STB reform that’s the only kind of progress we’ll see regardless.