September 28, 2016

Wyden Urges FCC Commissioners to Unlock the Cable Box

Chairman Wheeler’s Proposal Promotes Innovation and Competition, Lets Consumers Break Free of Big Cable’s Price Gouging

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., released the following statement strongly supporting Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler’s set-top box proposal which the FCC is scheduled to vote on tomorrow.

Too often, I hear from Oregonians who lack real choices for reasonably priced cable packages, and who end up with exorbitant television bills that include mandatory set-top box rental fees. Fortunately, the FCC is taking a strong step to finally allow consumer choice in the set-top box market by creating rules that would allow Americans the ability to use the set-top box of their choice, promoting competition and innovation.

Many consumers spend around $230 a year on set-top box rental fees alone. In all, Americans spend $20 billion annually just to lease a set-top box from their provider. The FCC reports that 99 percent of pay TV subscribers rent their set-top box because there is a lack of meaningful alternatives.

It is long past time to break the stranglehold Big Cable has over their customers through forced set-top box rental fees. Cable providers should not double dip on customers who are already paying monthly subscription fees for their content. The FCC should act, as directed by Congress, on its authority to create a competitive marketplace that will save consumers money and promote innovation in the industry. Oregonians and Americans should not be held captive by Big Cable’s price gouging. Consumers deserve to benefit from the increased choice and innovation Chairman Wheeler’s proposal would create.

At this Thursday’s FCC Commission meeting I urge the Commissioners to pass Chairman Wheeler’s proposal and unlock the box.”

On Thursday, September 29, FCC Commissioners will vote on Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal to allow consumers to use a device of their choosing to access multichannel video programming instead of leasing devices from their cable or satellite providers.

Twenty years after Congress directed the FCC to create a competitive set-top box marketplace in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Commission is set to finish the directive and unlock the box.