`Plug-and-Play' Looks Close


The cable and consumer-electronics industries last week put the finishing touches on a "plug-and-play" agreement that would pave the way for digital set-top box and high-definition television technology features to be built directly into digital TV sets.

Throughout last week, cable sources said the two sides were very close to a final agreement that had been years in the making, but cautioned that a Nov. 8 USA Today article which reported that a deal was done was premature.

"Negotiations between cable operators and consumer-electronics TV manufacturers concerning `plug and play' DTVs continue on a constructive path," said Robert Sachs, president and CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

"Notwithstanding some reports in the press, a final agreement has not been entered into by the parties."

The deal would be the culmination of a long-sought dream of government officials, who hope to spur the adoption of digital and high-definition television by CE manufacturers looking for products to sell, broadcasters who are moving toward digital and HDTV delivery and, to some degree, the cable industry.

Cable MSOs have been cautious about pursuing "built-in" agreements, because of a host of technology, security, copyright and business issues.