Keep the Card: TiVo's Quest to Ensure CableCARDs Remain Available at Retail

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It has been 6 months since the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled the FCC lacked authority to impose encoding rules on satellite TV companies and other MVPDs to prevent signal theft. While the court case focused on satellite, the DC Circuit vacated the entire rule, including provisions that apply to cable operators. Enter TiVo. With the FCC having not stepped in to do anything since Jan’s ruling, the company now wants the rules reinstated, particularly when it comes to the provision that consumers must be able to access cable content on retail devices (like TiVo’s) via CableCARDs. TiVo’s petition doesn’t mention any cases of cable operators rejecting customers’ requests for CableCARDs, but with hundreds of thousands of cable customers relying on the cards, the CE maker would rather be safe than sorry. "These vacated rules include standards for encoding of signals and conditional access that cable operators, content providers, equipment manufacturers agreed to a decade ago, and that consumers have relied on for the past decade without controversy," TiVo said in its petition. "By vacating these rules, the Court created an unhealthy amount of uncertainty in the industry—uncertainty that harms innovation and competition as well as settled consumer expectations." TiVo’s pretty active on the FCC petition front. One it filed in Feb seeks a waiver of the digital cable ready certification and marketing rules so that it could bring all-digital, cable-only DVRs to retail ( Samsung filed a similar petition in May for its "Smart Media Player") TiVo also filed a petition in May asking the FCC Media Bureau to reconsider its order granting Charter a 2-year waiver to the set-top integration ban out of concern it could release the MSO from providing CableCARDS to subs using retail devices.

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