NCTA to Congress: Prune Outdated Set-Top Integration Ban

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Previewing a likely square-off with TiVo in the March 12 Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA) hearing, National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Michael Powell plans to tell the House Communications Subcommittee that it likes the STELA draft issued by the Republican leadership, and in particular the provisions on getting rid of the Federal Communications Commission's set-top integration ban, which he calls an outdated legal requirement that handicaps cable operators, and limiting coordinated retransmission negotiations.

He says the requirement that cable operators, "and cable operators alone" include a separate decryption component -- a CableCARD -- adds extra cost, sucks up extra energy, and provides "no added benefit to cable customers with leased set-top boxes." He says the integration ban imposes needless extra cost and is not necessary to promote competition in retail device availability.

“Retail competition in navigation devices is a worthy goal, but it is now clear that this goal is best supported by embracing the innovations already occurring in today’s retail marketplace and not by clinging to an outdated and costly FCC rule,” says Powell. As to prohibiting coordinated retransmission negotiations among two or more independently owned stations in a market, which the bill would do unless cable ops agreed to it, Powell said NCTA was all for it. "If multiple broadcast stations in a local market are not co-owned, then they should not be allowed to act as if they are co-owned in retransmission consent negotiations through a sharing arrangement."

[March 11]

NCTA to Congress: Prune Outdated Set-Top Integration Ban