05.05.2003 12:00 PM
CE lobbyists want quick FCC action on cable plug-and-play agreement

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the Consumer Electronics Retailers Coalition (CERC) want the FCC to do a quick approval of their deal to make television sets more cable-friendly.

Yet, as predicted, those parties left out of negotiations over cable-TV compatibility during the original deal last year are now questioning the motives of the consumer electronics and cable industries. Some broadcasters think the plug-and-play deal is bad for their industry and their viewers. There’s a fear, disputed by the CE, that DTV sets labeled as “cable-ready” would not include a tuner that can receive either analog or digital off-air programming.

“One could have a cable-viewing device that is not a TV set,” said the NAB’s chief engineer, Lynn Claudy, during a panel discussion at the NAB convention last April 7. Both CERC and CEA contend that it makes good business sense for a digital cable-ready TV to also be digital “over-the-air ready” and that’s the intention of TV set manufacturers. However, leaving some wiggle room, the CE says they “cannot make pledges as to the business intentions” of their members.

CERC and CEA also responded to “encoding rules” that protect home recording rights and ban copy protection practices such as “selectable output control” and “downresolution” conversions in digital receivers. The groups argued that the FCC “cannot allow consumer enjoyment and expectations to become the private capital of content providers and distributors to be bartered, solely among each other, for commercial advantage.”

In a plea to the FCC for timely action, the CE industry noted “there is only one outcome to this proceeding that would be of benefit to American consumers. That is the approval and expeditious implementation of the matters on which comment has been sought in this [rulemaking], including an outright ban on the ‘downresolution’ of HDTV content.”

The CE organizations said that comments to the FCC from content providers, arguing for greater copy protection impositions as well as others arguing for fewer security measures, all missed the essential point: “A decade of congressional and Commission action has narrowed the options available to the parties, leaving only this one, viable channel for success.”

For more information visit http://www.ce.org/

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