Put the top cable, broadcast and consumer electronics lobbyists on stage together, and there’s always the chance that someone will get hurt. But while a meeting of the lobbying minds at MSTV‘s annual conference in D.C. on Tues didn’t exactly end in fisticuffs, peace on a host of issues remained elusive. "The prospects are much better in the Mideast, actually," said CEA pres/CEO Gary Shapiro in reference to efforts by CE makers and the cable industry to strike a deal on 2-way CableCARDs. "It’s probably the most frustrating thing in my career that I’ve worked on." Shapiro accused cable of purposely working against a CableCARD deal in order to ensure the survival of "ugly, expensive boxes." But NCTA pres/CEO Kyle McSlarrow said hardware-based security "is the clunkiest 1980s solution you could ever come up with" and advised pursuing downloadable software security instead. Meanwhile, McSlarrow and NAB pres/CEO David Rehr sparred about down-conversion of HD broadcast signals on cable, with Rehr vowing to continue the push for an "anti-discrimination policy" in which MSOs carrying cable nets’ HD signals would have to do the same for local TV stations. He said blocking cable ops from "ripping those bits out" of broadcasters’ HD streams is a top NAB priority. Net-neutrality also reared its hydra-like head. Shapiro called the debate "out of hand… the sides haven’t gotten together in any meaningful way at all." McSlarrow urged the feds to "step back with some humility" and let the marketplace work, quipping that he has testified several times about net neutrality, "and I’m still confused by the issue."