DBS Firms Enter Cable-CE Discussions


In a move that could eventually result in retail set-tops that would work on both cable and DBS systems, EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV Inc. have joined the cable and consumer electronics industries in negotiating a two-way plug-and-play agreement.

Direct-broadcast satellite companies had complained that they were left out of negotiations for a one-way plug-and-play agreement that cable operators reached with CE companies in December 2002.

That agreement laid the groundwork for digital cable-ready TVs with embedded digital set-top technology.

Negotiations for a two-way deal that would allow CE firms to build digital TVs capable of accessing video-on-demand and other interactive services have been more protracted, with debate over content protection hanging up the talks.

Time Warner Cable senior vice president of strategy and development Kevin Leddy said satellite companies began attending meetings with CE and cable executives earlier this year.

Leddy said one result could be the development of retail set-tops that would be compatible with both cable and DBS systems.