NCTA: We Need Waivers


Washington-The cable industry said waiver requests for relief from competitive set-top-box rules were made in good faith and in response to marketplace realities.

Federal Communications Commission rules designed to open the set-top market to commercial outlets such as Circuit City Stores Inc. took effect July 1.

Nine MSO waiver requests reached the FCC in June alone, causing Cable Services Bureau chief Deborah Lathen to question whether they were filed in good faith so close to the deadline.

In a July 6 filing in support of the waiver request filed by Insight Communications Co. Inc., the National Cable Television Association said the Insight waiver and others were necessary because no one was manufacturing analog point-of-deployment security modules.

With no analog PODs, the NCTA said, cable operators must use digital PODs and duplicate scrambled analog signals in digital to comply with FCC rules. Systems lacking the bandwidth for duplication need waivers until their systems are rebuilt, the association added.

"In sum, the history preceding the waiver requests shows that the cable industry exercised good faith in attempting to find a solution to the analog separate-security requirement," the NCTA said.

In all, 11 MSOs want waivers, covering at least 4.6 million basic and 366,000 digital subscribers, according to FCC filings.

Lathen said June 30 that she would not enforce FCC rules for 45 days ending Aug. 14 to provide time to evaluate the waivers.