FCC to move on set-top box regulations, could open door for expanded Apple TV

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in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV
The Federal Communications Commission will reportedly float a new initiative that would force cable and satellite providers to broaden support for third-party set-top boxes, paving the way for companies like Apple to build new experiences on top of traditional cable services.

FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler


Rather than being forced to rent or purchase a set-top box from their television provider, consumers would be free to choose any unit designed to industry specifications, according to the Wall Street Journal. Details of the proposal remain scarce, though the cable industry has already begun to circle the wagons in opposition.

Cable operators are said to be wary not only of the dip in revenue from set-top box subscriptions, but of the potential loss of direct control over the customer relationship. With limited exception -- notably TiVo, which leverages its patent portfolio to maintain a sort of detente between itself and the industry -- consumers who pay for advanced television packages are trapped within the cable companies' own ecosystems.

Many contend that this gives providers outsized leverage over content.

"If you have a good program idea, some financing, and access to the Internet, you can find your audience," BET founder Robert Johnson told the paper. "But your audience can find you only if they have a modem or a set-top box or software that lets them know you are there and gives them access to your programs unconstrained by the network gatekeeper."

The leading proponent of changes to set-top box regulation in Silicon Valley has been Google, which wants to build cable functionality directly into its Google TV. Such changes would also benefit Apple, however, which has been spurned both in attempts to work with cable companies and go around them directly to content owners.

Apple was widely rumored to have been in talks with Time Warner over a deal that would bundle access to Time Warner's service with the Apple TV, but negotiations are believed to have fallen through in the run-up to Comcast's failed acquisition of the cable operator. Similar discussions with content providers haven't yet crystalized.

Apple is now thought to be keeping a "close eye" on the possible sale of Time Warner or its constituent parts, including HBO.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,428member
    Doesn't this also mean that Apple would eventually have to allow iTunes on any compatible set top boxes?

    seems like a double edged sword designed to break up proprietary ecosystems before they can become monopolies ...
    cali
  • Reply 2 of 27
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,115member
    mac_128 said:
    Doesn't this also mean that Apple would eventually have to allow iTunes on any compatible set top boxes?

    seems like a double edged sword designed to break up proprietary ecosystems before they can become monopolies ...
    Apple is far from a Monopoly! You're Cable company on the other hand is. A government created monopoly.
    tallest skil
  • Reply 3 of 27
    The government needs to stop meddling in corporation's affairs. They think they know what's best, but really they're just picking winners and losers. Let the market and consumers decide whom the winners and losers are, not government and lobbyists.
    mike1tallest skil
  • Reply 4 of 27
    steviestevie Posts: 956member
    TV could be the next major innovation for Apple.  Cutting edge, baby!
  • Reply 5 of 27
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,745member
    The government needs to stop meddling in corporation's affairs. They think they know what's best, but really they're just picking winners and losers. Let the market and consumers decide whom the winners and losers are, not government and lobbyists.
    The market is terrible at providing sufficient and adequate services without governmental regulation, PUC's, which came with the caveat of a local or regional monopoly, and consumers are generally powerless .

    Municipally owned broadband services and this action would break the back of Telecom and Cable companies and bring back consumer power and choice, plus some serious cost of service reductions.
    nolamacguylostkiwijddcroundaboutnowiosenthusiast
  • Reply 6 of 27
    Details of the proposal remain scarce, though the cable industry has already begun to circle the wagons in opposition.
    I would guess the wagons were circled even before the FCC was thinking about this. Probably permanently circled.
  • Reply 7 of 27
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,029member
    The government needs to stop meddling in corporation's affairs. They think they know what's best, but really they're just picking winners and losers. Let the market and consumers decide whom the winners and losers are, not government and lobbyists.
    The FCC isn't picking winners and losers, they're attempting to level the playing field. That's what our government is supposed to do. It isn't supposed to allow monopolies (Microsoft, Amazon) but is supposed to push for choice. Corporations will always attempt to drive competitors out of the market. In my area, I have no choice for broadband internet. It's Comcast, period. I'm too far away to get any OTA broadcasts so I have to rely on cable or satellite. There's no real competition between these either, no matter what the commercials say. I would much rather drop Comcast's xfinity system and simply use AppleTV but I'd like access to some broadcast TV stations and be able to decide which other channels I want to pay for. I'm not looking for a free ride, I just don't want my TV viewing experience to be cluttered with a bunch of channels I never watch. Will Comcast ever provide this kind of service? Absolutely not. Therefore, there's no way for the market and consumers to control anything.
    nolamacguylostkiwijddcroundaboutnowiosenthusiast
  • Reply 8 of 27
    kkerstkkerst Posts: 330member
    jbdragon said:
    mac_128 said:
    Doesn't this also mean that Apple would eventually have to allow iTunes on any compatible set top boxes?

    seems like a double edged sword designed to break up proprietary ecosystems before they can become monopolies ...
    Apple is far from a Monopoly! You're Cable company on the other hand is. A government created monopoly.
    jbdragon said:
    mac_128 said:
    Doesn't this also mean that Apple would eventually have to allow iTunes on any compatible set top boxes?

    seems like a double edged sword designed to break up proprietary ecosystems before they can become monopolies ...
    Apple is far from a Monopoly! You're Cable company on the other hand is. A government created monopoly.
    Your, not you're. Your connotes possession, as in your cable company. You're is a contraction for you are, as in you're not in control of your grammar
    edited January 2016 freshmaker
  • Reply 9 of 27
    kent909kent909 Posts: 709member
    The government needs to stop meddling in corporation's affairs. They think they know what's best, but really they're just picking winners and losers. Let the market and consumers decide whom the winners and losers are, not government and lobbyists.
    Regulation is not the entire problem. Consider this. I make a movie and after it shows in theaters I want it to go to DVD and streaming. I want my movie available to anyone who wants to pay to watch it. Amazon says we won't do it if Netflix has it. Or Showtime says we won't show it if HBO has it. It is in my best interest that anyone who wants to watch it can on whatever platform they choose. That does not happen now and it is not a restriction from the content creator. It is cable companies and the content providers that make my life and my potential customers lives difficult.
    lostkiwijddciosenthusiast
  • Reply 10 of 27
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,354member
    The government needs to stop meddling in corporation's affairs. They think they know what's best, but really they're just picking winners and losers. Let the market and consumers decide whom the winners and losers are, not government and lobbyists.
    John D. Rockefeller likes this.
    lostkiwiiosenthusiast
  • Reply 11 of 27
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,354member

    tmay said:
    The government needs to stop meddling in corporation's affairs. They think they know what's best, but really they're just picking winners and losers. Let the market and consumers decide whom the winners and losers are, not government and lobbyists.
    The market is terrible at providing sufficient and adequate services without governmental regulation, PUC's, which came with the caveat of a local or regional monopoly, and consumers are generally powerless .

    Municipally owned broadband services and this action would break the back of Telecom and Cable companies and bring back consumer power and choice, plus some serious cost of service reductions.
    Oh, and water in Flint. Discuss ready go. 
    diplication
  • Reply 12 of 27
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,445member
    The government needs to stop meddling in corporation's affairs. They think they know what's best, but really they're just picking winners and losers. Let the market and consumers decide whom the winners and losers are, not government and lobbyists.
    When the Government simply declares that there should be an industry standard for set-top boxes and that consumers can pick any one they like, that's not picking winners and losers.   And even if it were, the Government (albeit the local government) already picked winners and losers when it awarded franchises to cable companies in the first place.   Would you like your ISP to tell you that you have to buy a modem from them?

    The FACT is that consumers cannot decide who the winners and losers are as far as set top boxes are concerned because most cable companies force you to buy their STB.  

    The only problem with opening this up is that in the end, we'll be charged anyway - the cable companies will just bury the former STB rental fee somewhere else.   

    Forcing people to buy the STB from the cable company is no different than when you had to buy your phone from the phone company.   Once that ended, look at all the tech advances and price decreases that happened in the phone industry.   I believe the same would happen with STB's.    You don't have to rent your cable modem from the cable company, why should you have to rent the STB?     This was actually tried once before with cable cards, but the industry balked because they weren't bi-directional, so you couldn't use it to order services and even though it was a supposed regulation that all TV's sold had to have the slot, the manufacturers dropped including it.   (I still don't understand how that happened - maybe it didn't apply to digital TVs).      
    nolamacguy
  • Reply 13 of 27
    kent909kent909 Posts: 709member
    eightzero said:

    tmay said:
    The market is terrible at providing sufficient and adequate services without governmental regulation, PUC's, which came with the caveat of a local or regional monopoly, and consumers are generally powerless .

    Municipally owned broadband services and this action would break the back of Telecom and Cable companies and bring back consumer power and choice, plus some serious cost of service reductions.
    Oh, and water in Flint. Discuss ready go. 
    Not true. I live in a town that had a city owned broadband service. The city council was still bribed by Charter Communications to game the system in their favor.
    edited January 2016
  • Reply 14 of 27
    mtbnutmtbnut Posts: 195member
    If a device implements the latest DOCSIS standards and the cable provider can provision it using its unique MAC address, I don't see why Comcast, et. al., can't allow other devices to connect to their cables. 

    It's 100% political. 0% technical. 

    The only technical issue I can't solve is what to use instead of a CableCard. Possibly, like Apple has done with a software SIM, they can do the same with CableCard?
    edited January 2016 nolamacguy
  • Reply 15 of 27
    The government needs to stop meddling in corporation's affairs. They think they know what's best, but really they're just picking winners and losers. Let the market and consumers decide whom the winners and losers are, not government and lobbyists.
    Absolutely. The governments should allow several different cable companies to compete in the same territory. Let the cable companies compete for our service.

    Yes, that means a lot of duplicate cable wiring, but who cares! While we're at it, let's have competing water services, power companies, sewage companies, each with their own pipes and cables.
  • Reply 16 of 27
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,958member
    In many consumer areas, government(FCC) has made possible better pricing by forcing companies to open up or have choices for consumers Simple example. I was able to buy Cable Internet modem and that alone saved me in rental. For the price of the modem which was less than the one year rental of the modem from the cable company. Essentially paid off modem cost against one year of rental ans for the last 3 years still ripping the benefits. Thanks to Government. few good things you do to be on your side. Hope with this new info, Apple-TV can become resonable cost ala-carte TV channels package streamer.
    edited January 2016
  • Reply 17 of 27
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,980member
    gadgetdon said:
    The government needs to stop meddling in corporation's affairs. They think they know what's best, but really they're just picking winners and losers. Let the market and consumers decide whom the winners and losers are, not government and lobbyists.
    Absolutely. The governments should allow several different cable companies to compete in the same territory. Let the cable companies compete for our service.

    Yes, that means a lot of duplicate cable wiring, but who cares! While we're at it, let's have competing water services, power companies, sewage companies, each with their own pipes and cables.
    That's one of the most inane comments I've ever read. 
    icoco3
  • Reply 18 of 27
    smaffeismaffei Posts: 216member
    The FCC is really missing the point here. 

    It's just not having a choice of set top box, it's the choice of what you want to pay for on that set top box. You can already make a box that supports a cable card (like TiVo already does). That's the in place industry standard.
  • Reply 19 of 27
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,219member
    gadgetdon said:
    Absolutely. The governments should allow several different cable companies to compete in the same territory. Let the cable companies compete for our service.

    Yes, that means a lot of duplicate cable wiring, but who cares! While we're at it, let's have competing water services, power companies, sewage companies, each with their own pipes and cables.
    That's one of the most inane comments I've ever read. 
    How so? There are jurisdictions today that are served by multiple cable providers. In jurisdictions served by providers such as AT&T U-verse and Verizon Fios TV, there is usually at least one other cable provider. Despite having multiple providers, each operating over their own cabling, I have neither seen nor heard of any particular problems. Let us not forget that Direct TV and the Dish Network freely compete with each other and with the cable providers with not ill effects.

    So, to put is another way: "Wut chu talkin' 'bout, Willis?"
  • Reply 20 of 27
    boeyc15boeyc15 Posts: 986member
    The government needs to stop meddling in corporation's affairs. They think they know what's best, but really they're just picking winners and losers. Let the market and consumers decide whom the winners and losers are, not government and lobbyists.


    I thought Ayn Rand (and her crowd) died years ago??

    Anyways, IMO the sooner these cable companies become dumb data pipe only companies --- with sunshine pricing policy's the better!

    If they want to also be a 'separate' content delivery company, fine.

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