November 09, 2015

"A holdover from the early days of pay television, the set-top box is an energy-inhaling contraption that also sucks money from Americans' wallets each month."

LA Times In a move that could further disrupt the changing video marketplace, those boxes soon could face new federal regulations designed to break the hold of Comcast, Verizon, DirecTV and other providers on the devices that millions of Americans depend on to watch TV. by Jim Puzzanghera

'About 99% of the nation's 100 million pay TV subscribers lease a set-top box, with the average household paying $231 a year in rental fees, according to a survey by Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

'Those costs are one reason a growing number of so-called cord cutters are dropping their conventional pay TV service and now are streaming programming over the Internet directly through smart TVs or via much smaller devices, such as Roku, Chromecast and Apple TV, that they can purchase instead of rent.

'Set-top boxes typically cost less than $10 a month, but the average customer rents about 2.6 set-top boxes to cover multiple TVs. Those rentals generate about $19.5 billion a year in revenue for pay TV companies, so they're not eager to open up the market to other manufacturers who could produce more innovative devices for viewers to buy, consumer advocates said.

'"I think the time has arrived for the FCC to enable millions of Americans to access the enormous amount of content in new, innovative and less costly ways," Markey said. "Any phone will work with any cellphone company and any video box should be able to work with any video company."'

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