Video services

Cable Needs More CE Mojo

6:15 AM -- Forces continue to gather around the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as it considers whether to push ahead and introduce a notice of proposed rulemaking on its AllVid initiative.

While MSOs, satellite TV operators and other multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) want to see AllVid go to an early grave, many in the consumer electronics industry, the same folks who tried to push the old DCR+ idea and failed, want to see this one go through, convinced it's the only way an open retail environment for set-tops can truly develop. (See Cable Lobby Gripes About Google, AllVid and NCTA to FCC: Call Off 'AllVid' .)

Cable's been arguing vehemently that AllVid rules for network-agnostic gateways and adapters would do just the opposite -- bring innovation to a screeching halt.

Part of the argument that cable puts out here is that the market for retail devices that can support MVPD services is starting to evolve and develop naturally without the guidance of heavy-handed government mandates.

And there are some good, recent examples of that, including Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC)'s deal with Samsung Corp. and TW Cable's with Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE), which were revealed at last month's Consumer Electronics Show. (See CES 2011: Samsung Puts MSOs in the Picture.)

That's a nice start, but where-oh-where is the sustained momentum that the cable industry can show to the FCC as the agency gets pounded by both sides of the lobby? We hear that LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) may be next in line to announce a similar deal with a major MSO, but time is a-wastin', folks.

Cable trotted out tru2way at the 2008 CES, but that effort sputtered spectacularly at retail. No doubt that the FCC noticed that. And they probably noticed that Sony, which already has a deal to offer TW Cable content on connected TVs, remains in the pro-AllVid camp, so it's apparently not all that convinced that the cable industry is truly committed this time, either, or is at least spreading its bets around. (See Tru2way: Epic Fail at Retail.)

And where are the other U.S. MSOs on this? Sure, Comcast and TW Cable are the two largest, but it can't stop there. Cox Communications Inc. 's retail deal with TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) was a helpful gesture. Many more need to step up and show some involvement. (See Cox, TiVo Strike a DVR Deal.)

And the bigger deals and commitments can't flare up only when the CE industry is having its Super Bowl in Las Vegas. Cable needs to show the CE industry and the FCC that it's capable of bringing it in the regular season too.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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