TiVo Asks Bureau to Rethink Charter Waiver

Wants Guarantees That it is not Creating De Facto Downloadable Security System Without Any Notice or Opportunity for Comment 5/21/2013 8:13 AM Eastern

TiVo has joined the Consumer Electronics Association in a challenge to the FCC's conditional waiver to Charter to supply set-tops with downloadable security rather than the current CableCARD hardware fix, but it is taking a different route.

The Consumer Electronics Association on Monday sought a full-commission review of the Media Bureau-level decision, arguing that the bureau did not have the authority to make the call.

But TiVo is taking a different tack, instead asking the bureau to reconsider its decision rather than challenging its authority to make it, though TiVo did say that as currently constituted, the waiver did exceed the bureau's authority.

In 2007, the FCC instituted the prohibition on set-tops that combine channel surfing with security. Cable ops were required to use a removable CableCARD security add-on, a move the FCC hoped would goose the retail market, though it conceded at the time that a downloadable software security option would be preferable to the hardware in the long run. It has since conceded that the ban has not spurred that retail market.

In March, the bureau granted the two-year waiver with a number of conditions, but ones CEA, and TiVO, suggest are too aspirational to be effective.

TiVo is concerned that Charter will no longer support its set-tops, which feature the CableCARD technology, and the ban will translate to a de facto green light for other operators to drop support of the CableCARD in favor of a downloadable security system that has not first been vetted in a separate proceeding.

Tivo say it does not oppose the waiver per se, but argues that the bureau went too far, and should modify it to "(1) require Charter to continue to supply and support CableCARDs to subscribers wishing to use new retail devices; (2) clarify that the Bureau has made no findings regarding whether Charter's planned system or any other 'downloadable' system complies with the integration ban; and (3) clarify that no security system is or will be compliant with the Commission's rules unless the details of the complete system have been presented to the Commission in a proceeding with notice and the opportunity for the public to comment."

That would mean that the CableCARD regime could not be phased out until a downloadable security regime was in place and the technology supported by the cable industry.

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