The Future of TV Coalition, a grouping of cable giants banded together to fight Tom Wheeler's set-top unlocking proposal, has accused the FCC Chairman of hoisting himself by his own petard.
In a House Communications Subcommittee hearing Tuesday, Wheeler used the example of Google Chromecast to show that third-party devices don't represent a monetization or privacy threat to pay-TV operators and programmers.
The Future of TV Coalition pounced on Wheeler's comments, noting that the very existence of Chromecast is also an example of why the world doesn't need his proposal in the first place.
"If the classic Washington definition of a 'gaffe' is to accidentally tell the truth, Chairman Wheeler's comments at today's hearing are a whopper," the coalition said in a statement. "He admitted, plainly and clearly, that app-powered devices like Chromecast and Roku offer consumers an alternative to traditional set-top boxes and are readily available in the marketplace. Which begs the question — why is the chairman so desperate to solve a problem that he admits does not exist?"
Here are Wheeler's comments, as transcribed by the Future of TV Coalition: "The interesting thing is that there are today the equivalent of competitive set top boxes available in the market — for instance, Google Chrome[cast]. A lot of things we hear about how this is Google's big plan to take over cable tv – malarkey. Google Chrome[cast], which attaches into the port in your TV [and] allows you to pull things off of the web, does not violate copyright, does not overlay commercials, does not do all of the horrible things everybody says a set-top box like that would do."
The coalition added, "Chairman Wheeler correctly points out that apps-driven innovation is already allowing consumers to watch video on a wide range of devices — without hurting small and independent programmers, invading privacy, or undermining copyright protections. Why then is he proposing a sweeping mandate that explicitly rejects this apps approach and strips TV providers of the technical and contractual tools they currently use to ensure these protections remain in place?"
- read this Future of TV Coalition press release
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