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FCC Tackles Plug and Play Proposal

The FCC is seeking comment on proposed rules for "plug and play" cable compatibility, which has remained a hurdle in the DTV transition.

The cable and consumer electronics industries had filed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the commission Dec. 19 outlining an agreement on a cable compatibility standard for an integrated, one-way digital cable TV receiver and other unidirectional cable products.

In a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC intends to explore the MOU, the proposed FCC rules and its impact on consumers, small cable operators and multichannel video programming distributors other than cable operators. The FNRPM will also ensure that the FCC has a jurisdictional basis for action in this area, including the creation of encoding rules for audiovisual content from MVPD's.

The industries say receivers made under the new standards would be capable of receiving analog and digital premium cable programming directly from a cable system. An external device would be needed for advanced features including EPGs, pay-per-view, VOD and other interactive functions, but the industries cite continued work on a bi-directional receiver specification.