By Rosa Mendoza, Executive Director, HTTP and Amy Hinojosa, National President and CEO, MANA
Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is set to vote on their final set-top box proposal, which would radically alter the way that consumers find and view subscription-based television content. After facing significant criticism from both sides of the aisle following the release of their original set-top box proposal in February, the new proposal supposedly contains significant changes. Yet, despite legitimate questions raised by more than 200 Members of Congress, numerous civil and social justice groups, and content creators, no one has been allowed to see the details of the revised proposal.
Privacy protection is one of the key issues and unanswered questions facing consumers in the set-top box proposal. Based on what is being reported about the current draft, private consumer data could be shared with third-party companies without their consent. Without being able to see the details of the proposal, we still have serious concerns about how consumer privacy will be protected.
The U.S. Copyright Office has also expressed concerns with the set-top box proposal, stating that it has the potential to undermine licensing agreements, thereby not allowing content producers to fully realize the benefits of the programs they create. This is especially detrimental to small and minority content creators, who don’t always have the resources to fight copyright infractions, and therefore need to retain the ability to negotiate their own licensing agreements without FCC interference. The FCC’s proposal, therefore, threatens the already limited leverage that minority programmers currently have in negotiating how their content is distributed and accessed.
Furthermore, the proposal, if adopted, would allow third party companies to create their own TV guides and channel placements, making it even more difficult for consumers to find original, up-and-coming Latino-produced content. It is extremely daunting for Latino programmers, already struggling to be seen and heard, to have a chance of being successful in an environment where their content is buried in undesirable places and overwhelming channel lineups.
As a result, we urge the Commission to pause and issue a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) to allow stakeholders the opportunity to review and give feedback on the updated proposal. It is crucial that everyone potentially impacted by the proposal, especially Latino programmers and content producers, have ample time to review and make suggestions.