Michael O’Rielly, the FCC Commissioner provided a very thoughtful response this week in trying to debunk some of the myths associated with anti app proposals. A battle has been brewing at the FCC between the established cable service providers that own set top box technology and other players that are pushing for video by App as the primary vehicle for future video consumption.
In his blog post, Michael outlines his response clearly around four of the most far reaching claims made by the cable companies and set top box providers. These claims are the following:
- Apps aren’t good enough and/or consumers don’t know how to use apps
- Apps won’t provide unified search
- Apps won’t fix unreliable equipment
- Apps won’t drive down monthly rental prices
In his Summary, the commissioner’s inferences are on the money.
“As a firm believer in the ability of Internet apps to transform everyday interactions, I find it hard to fathom that people would attack apps with such specious claims. More importantly, it is troubling to think that the Commission would reject this modern approach in favor of one that leads us down a regulatory black hole. It’s time for the Commission to discard the effort outlined in the NPRM and embrace an apps-based future for video distribution. If that means that this approach becomes a resolution point for the entire issue, so be it. For me, getting it right is better than getting the credit. “
Apple TV and FCC Narrative
Apple has always made a push for using apps as the primary vehicle for video consumption for its Apple TV platform. According to the FCC, 99 percent of people who subscribe to TV service lease their set-top boxes from their cable or satellite company, paying an average of $231 every year for the privilege. And as the FCC points out, those prices seem to keep going up even while other technological devices’ costs are going down. If the commison decides on moving away from native set top boxes to app oriented video programming, this will be a big win for companies such as Google, Apple and Roku.
Interestingly, the founder of Roku wrote a piece in April on WSJ supporting this move.