01.12.2004 12:00 PM
FCC asked to reconsider cable plug-and-play on a range of issues

The FCC is being asked by several parties to take a new look at cable plug and play issues. Questions about security holes, certification, and copy restrictions have prompted several recent filings with the commission.

The National Cable Telecommunications Association (NCTA) is concerned that the testing and certification of the CableCARD interface be tighter in order to prevent security breakdowns with conditional access.

“The importance of making this system work cannot be overstated,” the NCTA wrote in a filing. “CE manufacturers have never before built integrated DTVs with digital cable set-top box functionality built inside, and they have never been responsible for protecting the copy control signals and business models that make the industry work.”

The group wants testing to be conducted by CableLabs and certification for consumer devices to come from that organization.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has reportedly asked the FCC to reconsider its decision not to require that digital television sets be equipped for “selectable output control.” Such controls would allow subscription television operators to disable connections between analog and digital devices. The motion picture studios originally sought control over outputs on consumer devices as a way to plug the “analog hole” that allows copying of digital content when converted to analog.

The Hollywood studio lobby also wants subscription video-on-demand (VOD) services to be placed under the “copy never” restrictions as are pay-per-view and standard VOD.

Pay operators, including DIRECTV, have also reportedly sought changes in the FCC rules.

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