Cable box unlock block

US Congress has delayed plans by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to open up the cable set-top box, a decision that critics say will cost US consumers $1.6bn a month.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a rider in a key budget bill that would require the FCC to carry out additional studies into the plan before moving forward. That in turn will delay the plan to "unlock the box" by forcing cable companies to allow third parties to sell streaming boxes that include cable channels.

The FCC has argued that the current requirement to "rent" such boxes from people's cable providers is anti-competitive, costing on average $231 a year per household: a price that has risen at three times the inflation rate. By contrast, streaming boxes like Roku or AppleTV cost half that annual charge to buy outright. ®

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