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Cable Operators

TiVo Waiver Gets NCTA’s Backing

8/01/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

The National Cable & Telecommunications
Association supported TiVo’s waiver request
of Federal Communications Commission rules
requiring cable-ready devices to have an analog
tuner, but only as long as consumers are notified
that a digital-only DVR will not work in all cable
systems.

In its June 23 waiver request, TiVo said it wants to
introduce Premiere Elite — a retail version of the fourtuner
Premiere Q for cable partners launched last
month — but that the requirement to include an analog
tuner would increase the cost of the DVR to consumers
by $80 to $100, use one-third more power and
increase the device’s size.

The analog tuning requirement “made sense when
it was proposed
and adopted years
ago, but today it
threatens to stifle
innovation in the
navigation devices
market,” TiVo
said.

The NCTA, in
comments filed
July 25, said Ti-
Vo’s petition was
“crafted after consultation
with the
cable industry on
how best to bring
an innovat ive
product to market
when commission
rules, written for a
different time, forbid
it.”

While the NCTA generally supports the TiVo waiver
request, it noted that many cable systems today
continue to carry substantial numbers of channels
only in analog. As such, the cable trade group recommended
that consumer education measures include
notifying customers that their DVR might not receive
all channels if they move to another cable system.

TiVo proposed using marketing, training and some
limited return policies to direct sales to consumers
who are informed that the device does not support
any analog channels. In addition to that, NCTA said,
“We recommend that those point-of-sale consumer
education efforts also make clear that if the consumer
moves to another system with analog channels, the
device would no longer tune all one-way channels.
These educational messages should be made conditions
of the waiver.”

The NCTA added that the FCC also should make
clear that a waiver and the availability of limited
functionality digital-only devices at retail does not
create any requirement or expectation for cable operators
who carry analog services to change their
networks, services, or prices to meet the digital-only
constraints of TiVo’s device.

The NCTA noted the analog requirement is similar
to the “plug-and-play” requirement that HD set-tops
include a 1394 (FireWire) output.

“Technological innovation is often marked by multiple,
market-driven approaches that should not be constrained
by ‘one-size-fits-all’ regulations written for an
earlier time,” the NCTA said in its comments.

September