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Cable Technology Feature Article

July 17, 2013

TiVo Asks FCC to Allow Consumers Use CableCARD for Content Access

By Arvind Arora, TMCnet Contributor

The development of cutting edge entertainment-related equipment and solutions offers a wide range of options to consumers in terms of accessing the content of their choice in their desired format. At the same time, legal issues pertaining to consumers’ rights of saving and archiving this content on their end have emerged as a result of these technologies.

TiVo (News - Alert) Inc., a company that offers enhanced television entertainment and digital video recording solutions, has made a request with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC (News - Alert)) that, until the point when a better solution is made available, consumers must be allowed to receive cable content on their retail devices using CableCARDs.

Recently, a court decision was issued in a case that had been filed by EchoStar. The decision defied the applicability of FCC rules to satellite providers, in connection with consumers’ ability to record television programming. TiVo has taken the latest step in reaction to the decision, and has filed a petition that requests the FCC to reinstate the procedures so that cable consumers are able to leverage competitive set-top boxes with CableCARDs, thereby enjoying a better choice of devices and services.

The company has declared its strong disagreement with the court's decision with respect to the satellite industry, and has emphasized that it has resulted in an unintentional ambiguity regarding the cable operators’ obligations to support consumer access to CableCARDs. A number of rules and regulations connected with the deployment of these devices were a part of the same FCC order that has been made ineffective by the court. Additionally, operator support for retail devices using CableCARDs was not the subject of the court challenge, added the company.

A large number of cable consumers across the U.S. have been using their recording and navigation devices such as TiVo through the CableCARDs, while an equally large number of customers are expected to join the bandwagon in future as well.

“The FCC's encoding and conditional access procedures are rules that cable operators and consumer electronics manufacturers agreed to a decade ago and that cable operators, content providers, equipment manufacturers, and consumers have relied on for the past decade without controversy,” commented Matthew P. Zinn, senior vice president and general counsel at TiVo, within the petition. “TiVo is eager to work with the cable industry on a successor security solution to CableCARD that works for retail. Until a new solution that can actually enable retail competition is available, however, the FCC must endeavor to make the existing CableCARD standard work for consumers and complementary technology providers because CableCARD currently is the only choice that consumers have to purchase a retail device that gets access to all cable programming.”

Earlier in June 2013, TiVo launched mobile and second-screen TV companion apps, which cable operators can custom-brand to extend their TV Everywhere strategies. No TiVo DVR box required, either the apps are compatible in homes with or without TiVo devices.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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