Public Knowledge—which has sided with the CEA on issues like the broadcast flag—is supporting the assoc’s quest to keep the July 1 set-top integration ban in place. The cable industry is seeking waivers to postpone the ban or exempt lower-end boxes. Also among the groups backing CEA are The Consumers Union, Free Press and US Public Interest Research Group. The groups say consumers deserve more set-top box choice. NCTA’s response: "The waivers cable is seeking do not prevent consumer choice; they will prevent a $600 million per year consumer tax," referring to the cost to re-engineer set-tops. "That is why dozens of consumer and minority groups have supported cable’s efforts to delay the ban until a new downloadable security system is deployed," a spokesman said. — RCN is opposing Citizens $1.16bln purchase of Commonwealth Telephone, a deal that will create the 7th largest US phone company. RCN said it expects other companies to oppose the merger as well, noting that Sprint, Blue Ridge Cable and the PA Broadband Association have opposed the merger before the PA PUC. RCN claims Commonwealth is currently blocking or limiting the scope of competition in its markets, a situation it expects to get worse when Citizens takes over.