CEA, NCTA Reach Labeling Accord

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Washington-The cable industry and TV-set makers said last Wednesday that they have reached an agreement on the thorny issue of labeling digital televisions for compatibility with advanced cable services.

The agreement was announced by the National Cable Television Association and the Consumer Electronics Association and communicated in a letter last Wednesday to Federal Communications Commission chairman William Kennard.

The deal was unveiled just hours before comments were due at the FCC on a proposed rulemaking on digital-TV-set labeling and copyright-protection issues, which the commission decided to launch in the absence of privately negotiated deals.

On the labeling issue, the NCTA and the CEA said they agreed to two labels-one that would apply to digital-TV sets with the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers' 1394/5C interface, and one for sets without it.

A digital-TV set with the interface will be called "Digital TV-Cable Interactive," and it will be capable of displaying impulse pay-per-view, video-on-demand, enhanced program guides and data-enhanced television services in conjunction with a digital set-top box.

A digital-TV set without the interface will be called "Digital TV-Cable Connect," and it will be capable of receiving analog-basic, digital-basic and digital-premium cable programming if offered by the cable operator.

"We support the agreement, and we were an integral part of the discussions," Thomson Multimedia spokesman Dave Arland said.