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Top Lobbyists Swarm FCC Over Plug-and-Play

The FCC is hearing comments on whether it should adopt the cable industry’s OpenCable Applications Platform (OCAP) as a standard for nationally deployable two-way set-top boxes, and big-time representatives of major corporations are busy sharing their views with the commission.

Oct. 26, Comcast boss Brian Roberts and two of his top henchmen met with four of the five commissioners to plug OCAP and oppose DCR+, the solution proposed by the Consumer Electronics Associations.

The same day, officials from HBO, Starz!, Disney, News Corp., Viacom and NBC Universal managed to met with the legal advisors for all five commissioners to talk up OCAP, according to a FCC filing.

These companies and others, including many consumer electronics makers, have touted OCAP as the only platform would incorporate advanced functionality into consumer devices.

“Consumers reasonably expect that something called a ‘digital cable-ready’ device will let them have access to all of the cable services that are part of the package they have purchased,” the National Cable and Telecommunications Administration told the FCC this week. “But DCR+ devices, were they ever to be built, could only receive a limited number of existing services, will receive no new future services, and will not let cable consumers see and use cable services in the way that they purchased them.”

NCTA also says DCR+ products will not be available in time for the 2008 holiday shopping season, whereas OCAP products are already available. NCTA also wants OCAP technology to be the standard for all multichannel video providers, not just cable.

CEA has countered that DCR+ is an alternative, lower-priced solution that would give viewers a choice; it has also said that the FCC would abdicate too much authority to industry consortium CableLabs under the NCTA plan.