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FCC delays decision on rule that would require pay TV to offer streaming programming

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, shown in 2015, wants to give consumers the option to get video service without renting a cable box.
(Getty Images)

The Federal Communications Commission delayed a vote scheduled Thursday on Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposed rule to require pay TV services to offer their programming on streaming apps.

“We have made tremendous progress and we share the goal of creating a more innovative and inexpensive market for these consumer devices,” said a statement from Wheeler and Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel. “We are still working to resolve the remaining technical and legal issues and we are committed to unlocking the set-top box for consumers across this country.”

Wheeler’s proposal is aimed at giving pay TV consumers access to the programming they pay for every month without a cable box.

Cable companies argued that the proposal exceeded the commission’s legal authority and was an example of government overreach into the pay TV industry. They also contend that imposing such a rule would slow down technological innovation.

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Wheeler is pushing the rule as a way to bring down the cost of video service, which up to 84% of consumers have said is too high, according to some studies. About 99% of the nation’s 100 million pay-TV subscribers rent at least one set-top box.

Wheeler has touted the move as a way for providers to adapt to the technological changes that have already upended the television industry through the increased number of programming choices they offer. A rapidly growing number of consumers, especially in the 18-to-34 age group, are turning to online streaming for their video content and want more options through Internet platforms.

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stephen.battaglio@latimes.com

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Twitter: @SteveBattaglio


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