CableLabs may help bring back those old TV rabbit ears

Michael Harris

March 6, 2007

1 Min Read
Wearing Rabbit Ears

Maybe cable isn't so great after all. Cable Television Laboratories Inc. (CableLabs) has launched a new initiative that may help bring back those old TV "rabbit ears." The announcement comes well before Easter, offering Peter Cottontail a chance to get in on the action.

According to the typically succinct March 1 press release from cable's R&D group:

"CableLabs, the cable television industry's technology development consortium, has announced that it is working on an initiative to develop cable interface specifications for receipt of off-air digital broadcast signals.

The interface specifications would enable devices to receive digital off-air television signals and would deliver these digital signals seamlessly through a cable set-top box. This technology would allow consumers to receive broadcast television signals as an integrated viewing experience. The concept combines over-the-air digital television transmission with television programming carried by the cable provider."

The move is a nice reminder of how MSOs can try to apply technology as leverage in broader business and public policy negotiations. This announcement is supposed to be a shot across the bow of broadcasters to influence retransmission-consent deals. (For an example of the stink, see Sinclair Tackles Mediacom for Loss .)

The intended message from MSOs: Play nice or we won't bother carrying your digital programming. On the flip side, one could argue the move is an admission by MSOs that they lack sufficient capacity for digital content carriage. Darn those unintended consequences.

— Michael Harris, Chief Analyst, Cable Digital News

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