Why Amazon is taking aim at cable companies

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Amazon.com says the cable industry's own proposal for how to shift Americans away from the set-top boxes they currently rent for hundreds of dollars a year is riddled with flaws. The online retail giant is arguing that the cable companies' vision for accessing TV content in the future — via apps embedded in smart TVs, phones and other devices — doesn't guarantee the copy protections that currently exist with set-top boxes. (Copy protection has emerged as a key issue in the ongoing fight to determine how cable viewers will someday get their shows and movies.) The cable-backed "app-based approach" to getting your programs is an alternative to what some federal regulators want instead: A system that forces cable companies to hand over all their programming so that any other company — including, perhaps, Amazon — could build and sell their own set-top boxes straight to consumers.

In a nutshell, cable companies are saying new regulations could disrupt the copy-protection regime that undergirds the economics of TV. Amazon's saying the cable industry's counterproposal isn't worth its salt, in part because Amazon potentially stands to gain from a more stringent set of requirements on cable companies.


Why Amazon is taking aim at cable companies