Avner Ronen, Brooklyn-based CEO of the Internet video provider Boxee, scheduled a meeting recently with the FCC’s chairman when he realized a proposed rule could seriously damage the company. Ronen showcased how users of the Boxee Box, which aggregates videos from the Web and displays them on a TV set, can flip between several channels/Web pages, Businessweek notes.
The rule proposed by the FCC in October would allow cable operators to encrypt all their TV transmissions, serving as a blow to Boxee, which allows cable subscribers to plug their cords directly into Boxee Boxes—bypassing the cable companies’ own set-top boxes, Business Week maintains. If the rule goes into effect, people using Boxee to watch cable will only see static. Boxee has since rallied some of its 2 million users through blogs and social networks, asking them to voice their opposition to the FCC rule; about 2,000 people have written detailed, personal messages, according to Ronen.
While Comcast, News Corp., and Disney dedicated a combined $30.6 million to lobbying last year, Boxee can’t afford to spend more than $50,000. “I don’t believe it is realistic to expect startups to pay too much attention to regulatory and legislative proceedings,” Ronen told Businessweek. “I guess one lesson to other startups is that if there is an issue that concerns you, it may be worth a trip to D.C.”