Cablevision Gets Set-Top Waiver Extension

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Washington -- Cablevision Systems Corp. can keep deploying its SmartCard-enable set-top boxes until the end of 2010 under a waiver extension granted by the Federal Communications Commission staff last Friday.

In granting the extension, the chief of the FCC's Media Bureau said the cable operator had to begin phasing-in set-top boxes that rely on downloadable security on July 1. By the end of 2010, all new Cablevision set-tops need to rely on downloadable security.

"Cablevision has provided concrete milestones that it will achieve in the deployment of this solution, and has committed to pay penalties of $5,000 per day in the event that it misses any of those milestones," FCC Media Bureau chief Monica Desai said in a five-page order.

Since July 2007, the FCC has rules that ban cable operators from utilizing set-top boxes with integrated channel-selection and single-security features.

The agency forced cable to rely on boxes that secure content with an insertable CableCard. Cablevision was among a group of cable companies that received waivers.

The FCC's policy, adopted pursuant to provisions in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, was designed to establish a retail market for cable set-top boxes. Downloadable security is considered a successor technology to the CableCard.

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