Re: Trying to relate this to the UK
I don't think you can compare them directly like that.
My mother has DirectTV and the last box she had went out, they replaced it with one that was much older. Neither box she has had a HDMI port - Those (in her area at least) cost extra, and they retain ownership of the box, plus some things cost extra to turn on. They say they will "sell" equipment to you, but a DVB-S receiver that cost 5 times the retail cost of a similar box just makes it not worth while.
In essence, customers are paying way over the odds for equipment that is generally crap.
In the UK these cost are built in to Virgin and Sky packages. The hardware on Sky becomes yours and customers can buy and transfer used hardware if it's out of contract (your cost do not go down). Virgin Media retain ownership all of the time and will never activate used boxes. YouView boxes are mixed between closed systems and open systems, but they are more along the lines of what the FCC wants in the US.
You can get 3rd party sky receivers (or could, not checked in the last couple of years), but the card does not update encryption details, so you need to keep your registered receiver to update the viewing card.
The problem that caused a lot of this was that customers cloned equipment so they had to find a way to secure what they had. That is, Customers pushed providers into locking down these ecosystems. This is one reason why Virgin Media was originally skipped in Ireland, one person on the street paid for broadband and TV, but every home had it ;P... NTL used to allow you to have your own modems too (and enjoy a discount!), but again the cloning is what made them push for a closed system.
If the FCC can dictate that the hardware will follow a standard AND be secure for the providers (no clone hardware!) then I think that would be great. I am not sure they will go down this path far enough for it to be a success.
The USA has plenty of FTA content on SAT for customers to have but you will probably find that a lot of people either lack the knowledge or the time to research and go down such a path.
I see nothing wrong with hardware "Rental/Leasing" and the closed ecosystem. The problem is that it is used as a price gouging tool. When a new "Retail" modem cost $70, and you are forced to buy one from your provider for $10 install + $10 month / 24 month minimum then customers should be mad. Two months of rental pays for hardware, but when it is crap then you can spend months on the phone line getting them to send out a replacement.