The FCC Media Bureau granted the requests by James Cable, RCN and WOW to have their set-top integration ban waivers extended. Last year, the Bureau allowed the 3 to continue to deploy boxes without separable security (ie, CableCARDs) after July 1, ’07 because of the financial hardship integrated boxes would cause. While RCN, WOW and James requested an extension for at least 1 year, the FCC only gave them through the end of Jan, saying that they each need to submit specific plans within 30 days on how they will come into compliance with the ban. "We do not expect to grant further waivers unless a Petitioner presents an exceptional reason that it will be unable to comply with the integration ban after Jan 31, ’09," the Bureau said. Noting that the FCC has not granted waivers past the Feb 17 DTV transition date, RCN said it wasn’t surprised the Commission limited the extension to Jan 31. "RCN is moving to transition the majority of its customers/markets to all digital by then, so we’re pleased that the order recognizes the importance of being able to continue to use the Motorola DCT-700s for that period, as it will greatly alleviate the financial burden of that important transition," said Richard Ramlall, RCN svp, strategic external affairs and programming. Charter also was granted a waiver last year for financial reasons, but decided it did not need an extension for this year ( Cfax , 5/23).

At the Portals: In a blow to the FCC, the agency’s Office of Management and Budget has rejected the reporting requirements for its new leased access rules. The setback comes weeks after the 6th Circuit stayed the FCC’s new leased access rules. OMB’s beef is that the requirements violate the 1980 Paperwork Reduction Act. Cable had complained that the rules require massive amounts of new paperwork. Among other things, the rule requires ops to provide info to potential leased-access providers in 3 business days instead of 15. The OMB decision is bad news for the FCC because even if it wins the 6th Circuit court challenge from cable, it will still have to revisit the reporting requirements.

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