Cablevision: CEA Seeks Set-Top Rules


Cablevision Systems said the Consumer Electronics Association — in opposing the operator's waiver extension to Federal Communications Commission rules on separable set-top security — is attempting to impose its own wishes for a national downloadable-security scheme for cable TV.

The FCC's Media Bureau granted Cablevision's request for an extension to its previous waiver that allows the MSO to continue using smart cards in its own set-tops rather than boxes with CableCards, as long as it adheres to a schedule phasing in an “open” downloadable-security technology.

The CEA last month formally asked the FCC to reverse the order, charging that it represented a substantive rule change without seeking public comment or “articulating a reasoned basis for its decision.”

In addition, the CEA said, it wasn't clear whether the Cablevision system could “form the basis for a national and nationally portable conditional-access system that is a true alternative to the CableCard.”

Last Wednesday, Cablevision filed an opposition to CEA's request arguing that its waiver is fully consistent with FCC policy and that its downloadable-security approach complies with agency guidelines.

“While CEA argues that the Bureau impermissibly engaged in 'rulemaking' in the context of this waiver docket, it is CEA that is seeking a rulemaking,” Cablevision said in its reply. “Whatever the merit of CEA's call for further commission consideration of national standards for downloadable security, this waiver is not the vehicle for such a broad new policy initiative.”

The CEA “at most has argued that Cablevision's downloadable security implementation may be inconsistent with CEA's own opinions regarding new rules and policies that it would like for the commission to adopt,” the operator continued. “CEA is free to petition the commission for a new rulemaking, but that is certainly not a basis to vacate the temporary waiver that the Bureau granted in furtherance of the commission's existing precedent and policies.”

Cablevision also said the CEA failed to demonstrate any procedural error. “The public had notice of Cablevision's request, and CEA filed comments that were fully considered in the Bureau's order,” the MSO said.