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FCC closes file on ‘unlock the box’

The US FCC is to officially close the once contentious ‘unlock the box’ proceeding initiated under FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s predecessor Tom Wheeler.

Ajit Pai

The FCC is closing the proceeding for a new regulation that would have seen service providers forced to make their offerings available to devices they did not control rather than force customers to rent a set-top box from them.

Pai removed the regulator’s plans to ‘unlock the box’ from its list of items pending action just after he was appointed by the incoming Trump administration in January 2017.

Pai, an outspoken critic of net neutrality, was strongly opposed to new set-top regulations and regarded the set-top plan as complex and unnecessary.

The Wheeler FCC had approved the plans to “tear down anti-competitive barriers” – as they saw it – in the set-top box market in February 2016. Under the proposals, service providers would have been forced to offer consumers an app to enable them to access programming they had paid for on a number of devices, ranging from smartphones to streaming sticks.

The regulations also called for integrated search across linear TV and OTT on-demand services, with no discrimination on search results between different programmers.

The Wheeler ‘unlock the box’ proposals were strongly opposed by US cable operators and other service providers, which make considerable amounts of money by leasing set-tops to their customers.

Tags: Ajit Pai, FCC, US