ANA Opposes FCC’s Set Top Box Proposal

Industry association representing more than 700 advertisers argues that the FCC proposal would hurt marketers, media, content producers and consumers

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) today stated its strong opposition to the proposal of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allow consumer electronics manufacturers and other developers to make set top boxes that can provide access to multichannel video programming. In comments to the Commission, ANA stated: “It is clear that the proposed rules have great potential to impact the advertising segment of our economy in very significant and undesirable ways.” 

“A fair and robust advertising marketplace in the broadcast and cable arena must continue to exist and be fostered since advertising plays such a critical role in content creation, programming availability and the amount and quality of information provided to consumers,” said Dan Jaffe, Group Executive Vice President of Government Relations for ANA. “We are not arguing for or against any particular technology or navigation device.  Rather, we want to ensure that whatever technologies are used, a fair marketplace exists in which advertising interests are protected and where the financial underpinnings for content creation are not undermined.” 

The ANA comments raise serious questions about the impact of the FCC proposal on a broad range of areas, including the legal protections for contractual and other obligations of advertisers and programmers; whether third parties would be able to alter or manipulate original ads through actions such as inserting additional ads, using unrestricted overlays, banners, blockers or other features; compensation agreements between marketers and programmers; and the protection of investments marketers make in sponsorships of programming, including significant investments in the Olympics and other costly special events.  

Jaffe noted, “Our concerns are not merely conjecture or supposition. There are already instances where promotion and marketing in original programming has been overtaken by the marketing of an acquiring entity; e.g., TiVo has overlaid its own messaging or placed competing ads over the promotional messaging of cable operators. This is merely a harbinger of how numerous third parties across the globe could undermine program content and advertising under the Commission’s current proposal.”

ANA’s comments state: “The Commission proposes to inject competition into the navigation device marketplace, which is arguably a desirable outcome and could benefit consumers. The Commission, however, appears to ignore the other costs and disadvantages of its proposal. For example, the Commission dismisses possible effects on consumers’ demand for diverse programming and other services. Because the NPRM would undermine the value and income of advertising, which is a large component of the subsidy for content, the proposed rules would also raise consumers’ costs and reduce their ability to access information.” 

Jaffe concluded, “We urge the Commission to go back to the drawing board and carefully examine the impact this proposal would have on marketers, content producers, media companies and consumers. As currently drafted, the proposed rule clearly will not advance the public interest.”  

About the ANA:
The ANA (Association of National Advertisers) provides leadership that advances marketing excellence and shapes the future of the industry.  Founded in 1910, the ANA’s membership includes more than 700 companies with 10,000 brands that collectively spend over $250 billion in marketing and advertising annually. The ANA also includes the Business Marketing Association (BMA) and the Brand Activation Association (BAA), which operate as divisions of the ANA, and the Advertising Educational Foundation (AEF), which is an ANA subsidiary. ANA promotes and protects the interests of the marketing community.