ANA Presses For Details Of Plan To Replace Cable Box With Apps

The Association of National Advertisers is praising the Federal Communications Commission's decision to delay voting on a proposal to allow consumers to replace cable boxes with apps.

The organization stated it's "pleased" the FCC "is not rushing to judgment."  

"We hope that this means that the Commission will publish its proposal with the details before it moves forward, so that interested parties can carefully review the specific elements," the organization added.

On Thursday, the FCC delayed a planned vote on proposed regulations that would have enabled consumers to watch pay TV without cable boxes. That proposal would have required cable and satellite providers to make television programs available to subscribers via apps.

The delay came after months of controversy over the agency's attempt to craft rules that would allow consumers to shed cable boxes. Currently, most pay-TV subscribers rent set-top boxes from their providers, at an average cost of $231 a year. Many people who also watch video from Netflix or other Web services use streaming devices like Rokus or Amazon Fire TVs, while people who watch TV shows on tablets or smartphones often do so via apps.



Earlier this year, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed that cable and satellite providers should make pay-TV programs available to outside companies that could then manufacture their own navigation devices. But after the cable industry intensely lobbied against the plan, Wheeler put forward a revised proposal that would have required cable providers to make their programs available via apps.

That revised plan included a provision requiring the apps to offer an integrated search function, which will allow people to search for programs across a variety of platforms.

Last week, the ANA urged the FCC to "assess carefully the relationship of any requirements and search functionality."

Dan Jaffe, ANA executive vice president, said at the time that the trade group was concerned "that licensed content may appear as part of search next to pirated content."

The ANA said in its latest statement that it "is enthusiastic about the next generation of multichannel television where content will be device-agnostic."

But the organization also says the FCC should consider how the proposal will affect contracts, privacy and copyright. "Any proposal impacting the transfer of advertising content must ensure the protection of copyright agreements, especially because of the essential nature of advertising as a funding source for the exponential growth of programming in recent years," the ANA stated.

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