For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Timothy Karr, 201-533-8838

CableCard Improvement Is Test Run to Overhaul Set-Top Box Market

WASHINGTON - 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

"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:


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