While the NCTA wants FCC chmn Michael Powell to host a powwow for cable and CE to discuss a rule that would require cable operators to deploy only CableCARD-enabled set-tops after July 1, ’06, CEA doesn’t seem to be biting. "The cable industry has had 3 years now to prepare for this-it’s not like it came out of the dead of night," CEA’s Jeff Joseph said Tues. "It’s time for final action, not time for another delay tactic. … We don’t think it’s needed." NCTA made the request in a letter sent to Powell Mon, and cc’d to CEA head Gary Shapiro. Joseph questioned the timing of the letter, which he had not seen, noting that it came as CEA was in Vegas preparing for CES (Jan 5-9). But the letter’s timing shouldn’t be too surprising since the Commission has said it plans to revisit the issue this month. In fact, at a recent meeting with the NCTA, Powell adviser Jonathan Cody said such a meeting could be constructive and suggested Mass Ave arrange it. So, if the FCC ends up supporting a meeting, the CEA could just be griping to make sure Powell & Co are clear on its stance before it sits down at the table. NCTA said Tues it had yet to hear from CEA. In the letter, Robert Sachs told Powell a meeting would help resolve some of the questions raised by conflicting cable and CE presentations. "While the 2 trade associations can facilitate such a meeting-as we have facilitated Plug & Play negotiations-the people from whom we think you need to hear are technical and business people, not Washington representatives." Sachs said he understood that such a meeting could not be held until mid-Jan, adding that NCTA envisions inviting not more than 5 reps from each industry. NCTA wants the FCC to lift the ban or at least postpone it until Jan 1, ’08. It was originally supposed to take effect Jan 1, ’05, but the FCC agreed, at cable’s request, to postpone it 18 months. Cable argues that the ban is not necessary in light of the CableCARD-enable digital products currently sold at retail. It also says the boxes would be too costly. CEA claims cable is exaggerating the costs involved with the boxes and that CE makers’ innovations will be stymied unless cable is forced to rely on the same security scheme as retail devices.

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