A "seriously flawed" proposal to unlock set-top boxes would "undermine responsible and relevant advertising on broadcast and cable media."
That's according to the Association of National Advertisers, which is urging the Federal Communications Commission to reject new rules that will enable app and device makers to develop boxes that can access pay-TV programs. If passed, consumers will be able to access over-the-top services as well as pay TV from a single device. People will also be able to more easily stream pay-TV shows to tablets or smartphones.
The FCC's proposal, unveiled earlier this year, had drawn the support of the White House as well as consumer advocates. Cable companies -- which garner an estimated $20 billion annually in box-rental fees -- says new rules aren't necessary because consumers already can view a broad array of programs via apps. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association has already vowed to ask the courts to block new rules, if the FCC moves forward.
The ANA says in comments filed today that the proposal could create a situation where advertisers lose control over the geographic distribution of their ads. One potential result, according to the ANA, is that consumers will see ads for promotions that aren't available where they live.
The ANA also warns that the proposal would allow third parties to replace the ads that were supposed to be included with the programs.
"Third parties would be permitted to ignore contractual rights and benefits through a guaranteed right of access to content, by which they will be able to alter existing advertising or add advertising not included with the original content," the ANA writes.
The group adds that device manufacturers could interfere with existing deals by detecting ads and replacing them with overlays, among other methods.
Whether those prospects are likely remains unclear. For his part, however, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said the proposed rules will prohibit device-makers from inserting additional ads or otherwise interfering with existing agreements regarding content.