Federal Communications Commission

It's time to kill the cable box

It's time to kill the cable box

Since taking office in 2013, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has battled seemingly every company his agency regulates as he has pushed for rules to protect the open Internet and online privacy. Now, Wheeler is jousting with a set of players not within the FCC’s purview — the major Hollywood studios — as he tries to fulfill a long-neglected congressional mandate.

The issue is the near monopoly that cable and satellite TV operators have over the converter boxes that enable consumers to unscramble and watch the channels for which they’ve paid. As part of a 1996 overhaul of communications law, Congress required the FCC to assure that...

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