Items tagged "Set-Top Box"

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Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me. Fool Me Every Time — I’m the FCC!

July 12, 2017 FCC , Net Neutrality , Net Neutrality in 2017 , Set-Top Box , Unlock the Box

This blog post was originally published on Harold Feld’s personal blog, “Tales of the Sausage Factory,” on Wetmachine.com.

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The Cable and Hollywood Endgame to Kill Set-Top Box Competition

September 16, 2016 Copyright , FCC , Set-Top Box , Video Competition , Video Marketplace

You may be asking yourself how the Federal Communications Commission’s proposal to eliminate the outrageous cable set-top box monopoly ripping off millions of consumers could be stopped. You may even be asking yourself this as you review your latest burgeoning cable bill.

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How Chairman Wheeler’s Video-App Plan Promotes Competition and Protects Private Rights

September 15, 2016 FCC , Set-Top Box , Video Competition , Video Marketplace

This probably doesn’t come as a shock to you, but programmers, broadcasters, and big Hollywood studios can’t ask cable companies to break the law, and vice versa.

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Unlocking the Box Will Benefit Rural America

September 14, 2016 FCC , Set-Top Box , Video Competition , Video Marketplace

The Federal Communications Commission’s proposal to unlock the box will benefit all pay-TV viewers, but particularly rural Americans, who often rely heavily on pay-TV subscriptions for information and entertainment. Where they live, broadband may be unavailable or slow, and over-the-air TV may be hard to tune in. Under the proposal that FCC Chairman Wheeler has circulated to the other four Commissioners, rural Americans will save money on device rental fees and benefit from an upgrade to their viewing experience.

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#UnlockTheBox: It’s Now Or Never

September 12, 2016 FCC , Set-Top Box , Unlock the Box , Video Competition , Video Marketplace

Every time I tell people about the Federal Communications Commission’s #UnlockTheBox proceeding, the reaction is always the same: It’s a no-brainer. They burst into rants about how much they hate the boxes, that they hate paying so much, and that they can’t understand why someone hasn’t done something about this cable box rip-off that results in such a lackluster product and poor service. Even as they thank heaven, the FCC, and consumer advocates for their efforts to actually fix this, they ask why it hasn’t been done sooner. It’s getting ridiculous.

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As the FCC Unlocks the Box, Privacy Remains a Top Priority

February 11, 2016 FCC , Privacy , Set-Top Box , Unlock the Box , Video Marketplace

The Federal Communication Commission’s proposal to “unlock the box” and enable people to access pay TV content on any device could save customers billions, by giving them easier access to cable and online video on smart, innovative devices.

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You Should be Able to Watch TV How You Want

July 16, 2013 Set-Top Box , Video Innovation

By misreading the law, the FCC took away your ability to buy alternative set-top boxes like Tivo and Smart TVs. We think that’s wrong. 


Congress recognized customers should not have to rely on their cable companies for a set-top box as early as 1996.  When they passed the updated Telecommunications Act that year they included Section 629, which required the FCC to make sure consumers would have a choice of video devices, just like they can pick what kind of TV to buy, or what model of wireless handset to use.  

Just like your ISP doesn’t make its subscribers use only Macs, or only PCs, your cable company shouldn’t make subscribers use the set-top box it provides.

To implement the law, the FCC and industry created the CableCARD system. Because of CableCARD, you can buy a set-top box at a retail store and plug it into your cable system.  The device will still work even if you switch your provider from Comcast to DirectTV later on. This facilitates competition in the subscription TV market by making it easier for people to switch providers.  And bringing non-affiliated companies into the set-top box market leads to improvements like the ability to record TV programs.

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AllVid: Not Dead Yet! (Legally, At Least)

January 16, 2013 Set-Top Box , Video Innovation

In a somewhat cursory opinion, the DC Circuit struck down the FCC’s “Plug and Play” order, which has been in place since 2003. The “encoding rules” this order enacted were designed to prevent subscription TV services from making it difficult for people to use home recording equipment, using copy-protection technologies like Macrovision.

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Public Knowledge Urges Court to Protect Home Recording

September 18, 2012 amicus brief , Fair Use , Set-Top Box

Public Knowledge filed an amicus brief with the Central District of California today in Fox v. Dish, a case that could threaten how consumers record and view programming in the privacy of their home. While this case is only in the preliminary injunction stage, these pre-trial stages have become increasingly important in copyright cases. Consequently, this case has the potential to upend long-standing fair use principles.

The case involves DISH’s “Hopper,” one of DISH’s set-top boxes. The Hopper can be set (by the customer) to record prime-time television on any of the four major broadcast channels. For some programming, the Hopper gives viewers the option to play back the programming without commercials beginning the following day.

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Rumors of Apple Set-Top Box a Reminder of Thwarted Innovation

August 17, 2012 Future of Video , Plug and Play , Set-Top Box , Unlicensed frequencies , Wi-Fi

The Wall Street Journal has run two recent reports that describe Apple’s plan to roll out a cable set-top box. There have been rumors about this for years. Back in 2007, Steve Jobs showed a level of familiarity with obscure cable technology that would suggest that Apple engineers were looking into this kind of product back then. But Jobs was repelled by the janky technology, and instead, Apple introduced a pure streaming device–the AppleTV–that did not interact with cable TV content. But most of the most valuable content is still available only on cable, or on cable first. Lots of people seem to love the AppleTV, but there’s a reason why Apple still describes it as a “hobby.”

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