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CONTACT: Free Press
Jenn Ettinger, 202-265-1490 x 35
CableCard Improvement Is Test Run to Overhaul Set-Top Box Market
WASHINGTON - June 15 - Free Press filed comments on Monday supporting the Federal Communications Commission’s proposed changes to improve CableCARD rules for TV set-top boxes. In 1996, Congress ordered the FCC to implement rules to allow third-party devices like TiVo access to cable video streams, in order to compete in the set-top box market. The rules are considered a failure because consumers do not have choices in the devices market.
In the agency's National Broadband Plan, the FCC proposes to revise the CableCard rules, while developing a new framework for all TV providers that would require gateway devices as a standardized interface between cable systems and third-party Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) and set-top boxes.
M. Chris Riley, Free Press policy counsel, made the following statement:
"We welcome action by the Commission to repair its CableCard rules. The FCC still has a lot of technical details to work out, each of which could create a loophole for the cable industry to continue to exercise total control over the device market.
"Today's set-top box market suffers from lack of innovation and consumer choice because of the hurdles put in place by the cable industry, such as confusing billing terms, cumbersome device installation procedures, and rental agreements that favor cable operators over other manufacturers. These problems are the result of the FCC’s lack of oversight when it gave the industry the green light to self-regulate.
"The real test will be in the next proceeding, when the Commission will move beyond CableCARD toward a video gateway system in which cable operators can no longer control the market for end-user devices. If the Commission resists false industry promises of effective self-regulation, the result could be a truly innovative and consumer-driven market for video devices, and at just the right time, as traditional and over-the-top video services continue to converge."
Read Free Press' filing here: http://www.freepress.net/resource/free-press-comments-cablecard