FCC proceeds with proposal aiming to make subscription TV available via any set-top box

“In a three-to-two vote, the FCC has decided to move ahead with a proposal that could drastically change the cable set-top box industry,” Colin Lecher reports for The Verge. “The decision may have far-reaching consequences for how cable customers watch TV — ultimately allowing them to go through third parties for their set-top systems, rather than being tied to the same company they use for cable service.”

“The proposed rule changes will now move into a comment period — where businesses and customers will be able to weigh in — ahead of revisions and a final vote, still some months away,” Lecher reports. “FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler first announced the proposed rule changes last month.”

“Wheeler argues that if any company can build a box that can communicate with any TV service, those companies will be able to get started building cable boxes rather than having to work out other deals first,” Lecher reports. “The competition, the Chairman argues, will drive down costs and improve device options for consumers.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: This is how Apple TV really gets to Input 1.

Why Apple investors should pay close attention to this FCC decision – February 9, 2016
U.S. FCC wants more companies making cable boxes – January 28, 2016
How to watch free live HDTV on your Apple TV – January 19, 2016
Apple TV review: Channels are dead. The future of TV is apps – October 29, 2015
Mossberg reviews the new Apple TV: ‘This is the one I’d buy’ – October 28, 2015


  1. BTW- I see that the pundits at MDN completely missed the Error 53 fix and APOLOGY that Apple released this morning.

    Apparently, the great neocons who were telling me that I had to live with Apple’s wisdom now have to eat their own poop.

  2. I’m a little confused … As an owner and user of 4 TiVos in my home I’m kind of at a loss about what this decision is covering? If Apple wants AppleTV to be a “set top box” don’t they just need to add a digital converter, a co-ax connection, a slot for an M-card and a channel navigation system? I have owned one of my TiVos for over 5 years, jumped from Road Runner to Comcast to Charter back to Comcast with it over the years. I just needed to go grab an M-card from the provider to make the TiVo work on their system. How do we not already have access to 3rd Party set top boxes when TiVo is available?

    1. Perhaps because you still need the Cable Card, which is in essence equipment you have to rent, much like a SIM card you get from your mobile phone operator. Unlike the SIM card, where you don’t have to pay a rental fee for that card, and where you don’t have to interact with the operator in order to put that card in your new phone, the cable card must be paired with the 3rd-party set-top box (or smart TV), before you can get service.

      More importantly, none of the interactive features offered by the cable TV operator are available to those who don’t want to rent STBs from the operator. In other words, if you want to get all the features and functionality you are paying for (such as interactive guide, on-demand content), your only choice is the set-top box rental from the operator — you can’t bring your own. The cable card only gives you one-way linear programming in HD and SD, for a channel line-up that you pay for. No other features are available, even though you’re paying for them.

  3. It would be great if Apple TV becomes a cable box as well. In our area, Cox is “going all digital” and requiring subscribers to rent a mini-box for every TV in the house. This is in addition to the cable subscription fee. And they’re advertising it like its a feature to have to rent new equipment. Very close to ditching cable TV and going with just internet.

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