Bipartisan House Request to GAO: Investigate FCC’s Set-Top Box Proposal
We at CFIF recently highlighted a dangerous new regulatory proposal from the Obama Administration’s rogue Federal Communications Commission (FCC): Its set-top box proposal that simultaneously embodies crony capitalism, regulatory overreach and technological sclerosis:
The latest manifestation is a new initiative from Obama’s overactive FCC to impose a one-size-fits-all mandate to make cable television set-top boxes artificially compatible with third-party entertainment devices. In other words, even as cable companies themselves voluntarily move in the direction of abandoning traditional cable boxes and toward devices owned and maintained by individual customers as they so choose, the FCC wants to impose 1990s-style regulation on the industry. That would essentially freeze in place the increasingly outdated model of set-top cable boxes even as it becomes increasingly anachronistic on its own.”
Fortunately, there’s good news to report.
Specifically, a bipartisan House Communications and Technology Subcommittee coalition led by Chairman Greg Walden (R – Oregon) and committee member Yvette Clarke (D – New York) sent a letter on Friday asking the nonpartisan federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate the FCC’s set-top box proposal. For those unfamiliar with the GAO, it is popularly known as the “Congressional Watchdog,” and is more officially the agency that provides investigatory and auditing services to Congress of various institutions within the federal government. The joint letter highlights their concerns and requests a formal GAO examination:
We 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 nations shared media platforms. We are requesting that the U.S. Government Accountability Office examine the impact of the FCC’s proposal to change the rules regarding cable set top boxes on small, independent, and multicultural media programmers and content providers.”
This constitutes great news.
It shows a bipartisan Congressional concern over the broad array of potential damage that the FCC’s proposed set-top box regulation would inflict. And Congress isn’t alone. A diverse group of consumer groups, innovators, employers and businesses join in opposing the proposal, which offers optimism that it will be rightfully stopped before further damage occurs.