Light Reading

TiVo Criticizes CableCARD Coverage

Mari Silbey

TiVo General Counsel Matt Zinn has lashed out at Light Reading's coverage of the US House of Representatives' passage of a bill that would repeal the FCC's separable security mandate, a move that could endanger the future of CableCARDs. (See House Votes to Kill CableCARD Mandate.)

In a letter sent to Light Reading on Thursday (and printed in full at the end of this article), Zinn argued that the previous day's story "misrepresented the competitive realities surrounding set-top boxes, failed to take into account the benefits that CableCARDs have brought to consumers, and distorted the substance of the STELA reauthorization legislation passed by the House of Representatives on July 22."

TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) was also unhappy with other press coverage of the implications for CableCARD following the key House vote, according to an industry source.

TiVo has long been a strong proponent of maintaining the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's integration ban, despite its unpopularity among cable operators. Company officials believe, Zinn writes, that "eliminating the integration ban would undermine consumer choice and bring real harm to the retail marketplace."

The argument is a logical one for the company, given that CableCARD technology has been a critical enabler for TiVo's retail set-top boxes and other products. For years, TiVo struggled to make much headway in the cable market, before finally finding the magic formula with a new attitude towards the industry and cable-friendly hardware, software and other products.

However, the company's position is at odds with the fact that the FCC's well-intentioned separable security mandate has fallen far short of its original goals. Instituted in 2007, the CableCARD mandate did not create a thriving retail market for cable TV hardware, as it was meant to do. Seven years later, the market environment is also very different than it was when the mandate was put in place, thanks to growing support for IP video delivery, and the continuing spread of Internet-connected devices. (See Bye-Bye, CableCARDs?)

Highlighting TiVo's specific criticisms of our recent story, Zinn argued that the scenario portrayed by the article "will take the cable industry back to the noncompetitive situation that existed prior to CableCARDs -- operators locking consumers into proprietary security solutions, sticking many consumers with no real choice."

However, it should be noted that Light Reading did not advocate the scenario that Zinn describes. What the story does say is that "CableCARD technology has also largely struck out with consumers, very few of whom have installed the security modules in set-top devices that they bought at retail."

The story also says that a technology solution that Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and TiVo are currently developing, which would not require a CableCARD to bring cable services to TiVo set-tops, "could go a long way to appeasing TiVo fans who have traditionally been some of the most vocal CableCARD supporters." In a related story earlier this month, we also noted that Comcast specifically said it would still "support retail CableCARD devices even with a new, non-CableCARD solution in the works.” (See Comcast, TiVo May Ditch the CableCARD.)

If you want to keep up with all the latest developments on CableCARDs, keep your eyes glued to our cable set-top box channel on the site.

The CableCARD debate is an important ongoing story, and Light Reading will continue to cover the news in its full context as it develops. While we stand by our recent CableCARD article, we also believe strongly in the right of reply and appreciate feedback from our community of readers. To that end, we have printed the letter from TiVo in its entirety below:

    To the Editor:

    Mari Silbey’s July 23 news analysis (“House Votes to Kill CableCARD Mandate”) misrepresented the competitive realities surrounding set-top boxes, failed to take into account the benefits that CableCARDs have brought to consumers, and distorted the substance of the STELA reauthorization legislation passed by the House of Representatives on July 22. Despite her flawed analysis, however, Ms. Silbey reached the correct conclusion about what would happen if the Senate passes a similar bill repealing the integration ban: CableCARDs would be effectively eliminated – the very outcome that House sponsors promised would not happen.

    TiVo has said from the outset that eliminating the integration ban would undermine consumer choice and bring real harm to the retail marketplace. Without common reliance on CableCARDs, operators would have even less reason to support a technology that they would not be using for their own new boxes. Ending the common reliance requirement would also harm the competitive market for the sale of set-top boxes to operators, reducing competition and choice.

    The scenario discussed by Ms. Silbey will take the cable industry back to the noncompetitive situation that existed prior to CableCARDs – operators locking consumers into proprietary security solutions, sticking many consumers with no real choice. Proponents of consumer choice and competition in the video device marketplace can only hope that the Senate does not pursue this ill-advised path.

    Matt Zinn
    General Counsel
    TiVo Inc.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

(12)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
User Rank: Light Beer
8/22/2014 | 8:00:21 AM
TiVo Criticizesw CableCARD Coverage
I agree with you but the consumer choices are always different and they always want to have the best technology that fits with their taste and choice. Here are some people like to get the services of Essay Eagles or want to get the best entertainment via these TiVo. So we also need to have the best technology according to our choice.
User Rank: Moderator
8/3/2014 | 9:04:00 AM
Re: Spin, baby, spin
Consumers may indeed periodically be idiots. But without them, TiVo has no business. And I'd say Comcast is more to blame if they can't figure out how to pair deployed CableCARDs, provide a single stream card versus mCard, and/or fall asleep while trying as documented here just last week:

As someone who understands CableCARD, I had to get Montgomery County (MD) government involved as the local franchising authority for Comcast to get it done (in a timely fashion). And, in Fairfax, VA, Cox NEVER figured out how to make their SDV tuning adapters reliably work (which led me to Verizon - where it's mostly been smooth sailing, knock on wood).
User Rank: Light Weight
8/3/2014 | 8:54:41 AM
Re: Spin, baby, spin
as a TiVo user, I am terrified at the prospect of using the X1 - it is garbage compared to TiVo's Rovio offering.

Consumers are idiots - I have had _zero_ problems walking into my local Comcast office, asking for three cablecards, calling a telephone number, and repeating back some digits. Why is this considered so difficult?
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
7/31/2014 | 3:39:28 PM
Just the facts
Saying that few consumers are willing to mess around with CableCARDs is just a fact. 

Shoot, even I don't bother to mess with it, and I work in this industry, hate our Cox DVR, and loved our TiVo. But going to all the trouble of getting a new TiVo and setting it up seems like a lot of work. Instead, I just swear at the existing DVR. 

It's kind of like those articles you read about toilet training the cat. Sure, it saves cleaning litterboxes but it seems so difficult that 13 years spent scooping litter seems like it's more attractive. 
User Rank: Moderator
7/29/2014 | 7:44:05 AM
Re: Spin, baby, spin
In other spin, having re-read the TiVo/Comcast filing, I'm left with more questions than answers. They parties say they have an "agreement" - is this a contractual thing or a handshake? Also, they say Comcast will continue to "support" CableCARD "notwithstanding the D.C. Circuit's EchoStar decision last year vacating certain CableCARD rules." So, first, Zinn clearly acknowledges CableCARD uncertainty. More practically, what is the duration of Comcast's support? One year, two years, until TiVo's Time Warp patent protection expires and Comcast doesn't care to deal with them any longer?
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/28/2014 | 11:13:54 AM
Re: Spin, baby, spin
Unless TiVo has another massive round of patent litigation up its sleeve, the revenue stream may be a bit shallow, which would account for the testiness.
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/28/2014 | 10:24:51 AM
Re: Spin, baby, spin
@MendyK no, the numbers do not appear to be in their favor.
User Rank: Light Beer
7/27/2014 | 4:46:35 PM
Re: Lawyer jokes
Agree, considering how tightly knitted the cabal that is cablelabs is....its a wonder this hasnt happened earlier.

I used to be pissed off at cablelabs and their i could just care less.
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/26/2014 | 10:36:02 AM
Re: Spin, baby, spin
The Silicon Valley Business Journal recently reported that Mr. Zinn litigated $1.6 billion for TiVo over the past three years, mainly through patent cases. TiVo's market cap now sits at $1.55 billion. The arithmetic does not look promising.
User Rank: Moderator
7/25/2014 | 2:54:28 PM
Spin, baby, spin
The fact is, CableCARD's future is uncertain. Which is bad for TiVo's struggling retail business. Given Zinn's response, they must be petrified and this is what damage control looks like. 
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
From The Founder
The comms industry is rallying to the cause of open, independent interoperability testing.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Tail-f, Cisco & What the Future Holds

10|9|15   |   8:17   |   (0) comments

Steve Saunders meets with Tail-f's Director of Technology, Carl Moberg, in Stockholm to discuss becoming part of Cisco, ETSI MANO, virtualization and the need to combine science and business in order to create opportunities for service providers.
LRTV Interviews
Broadband Forum Embraces SDN & NFV

10|9|15   |   02:42   |   (0) comments

At Gigabit Europe 2015, Robin Mersh and Kevin Foster from the Broadband Forum explain how the industry body is adapting to meet the SDN, NFV and cloud needs of the access network sector.
LRTV Interviews
Top Tips for FTTH Operators

10|8|15   |   02:26   |   (0) comments

At Gigabit Europe 2015, Ventura Team co-founder Richard Jones talks about some of the key business case considerations for FTTH network operators.
LRTV Interviews
M-net Calls for FTTx Unity

10|8|15   |   03:45   |   (0) comments

At the Gigabit Europe event, Jörn Schoof from M-net, the Munich city network operator, calls for industry collaboration on fiber broadband access rollouts.
LRTV Documentaries
The Business Case Challenge for NFV

10|7|15   |   03:47   |   (0) comments

Virtual CPE is one of the early success stories for network functions virtualization, as service providers are finding flexible, programmable CPE solves a lot of logistics problems and reduces their cost. But even here, Masergy Communications faced a business case challenge, says CTO Tim Naramore.
LRTV Interviews
JT Offers Some Gigabit Lessons

10|7|15   |   4:08   |   (1) comment

Barna Kutvolgyi, managing director, Global Consumer, at JT, the incumbent operator on the island of Jersey, talks about how other service providers can learn from his company's gigabit broadband rollout experiences.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T's Chiosi on the Potential of Open Source

10|6|15   |   06:27   |   (0) comments

AT&T Distinguished Network Architect Margaret T. Chiosi talks to Light Reading's Carol Wilson about the potential for open source technology to liberate communications service providers.
LRTV Interviews
Network Security in a Gigabit World

10|6|15   |   05:52   |   (0) comments

Masergy's James Harrison talks about some of the network security and data center issues network operators need to consider as they expand their broadband services portfolios.
LRTV Documentaries
Telefónica: In Search of Virtual Simplicity

10|5|15   |   07:30   |   (0) comments

Francisco-Javier Ramon Salguero, head of Telefónica's NFV initiative, admits virtualization initially means greater complexity, but with the right abstraction layer, it is possible to create a services-driven network architecture. He explains how Telefónica's current trials and initiatives are aimed at doing that, and what his company and other carriers need to ...
LRTV Interviews
Gigabit Europe Takeaways

10|5|15   |   03:47   |   (0) comments

Participants from the inaugural Gigabit Europe event in Munich share their key takeaways from the conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Intel Urges Women to Take Advantage of Their Seat at the Table

10|5|15   |   4:27   |   (1) comment

Have inclusive and constructive conversations, attach a bigger meaning to your work and get involved in the cause, Intel's Monique Hayward advises women in comms.
LRTV Interviews
BT Updates on Plans

10|2|15   |   03:16   |   (2) comments

Peter Bell, CIO at Openreach, the access network division at UK incumbent BT, provides an update on the operator's trials and how Openreach is planning to deploy the broadband technology in its street cabinets.
Upcoming Live Events
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
November 17, 2015, Santa Clara, California
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
All Upcoming Live Events
Network appliances have a strong value proposition in today's networks and will continue to do so in the NFV and SDN-enabled networks of tomorrow.
Hot Topics
M&A Speculation Swirls Around Juniper
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 10/6/2015
Cisco's Chambers Rules Out Political Bid
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 10/6/2015
Cord Cutting? 'Fraid so.
Brett Sappington, 10/7/2015
Infinera Fleshes Out Its Metro 100G Story
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 10/7/2015
Cisco Makes 'Martian' Connection
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 10/9/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
With so many new and exciting communications technologies now under development, it's easy to get caught up in the industry's escalating hype cycle. That's why the ...
Last week saw a big day in the 15-year history of Light Reading when Editor-in-Chief Ray Le Maistre and I were invited to interview the Deputy Chairman and Rotating ...
Cats with Phones
"What?! I'm on with Finisar about their stock price tanking" Click Here