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FCC Extends Set-Top Box Deadline

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the just-a-little-longer dept.

Television 200

Kadin2048 writes "The FCC today announced that it was once again rolling back the date (PDF!) for the eventual ban of "integrated set-top boxes" distributed and leased by cable companies to consumers, from 2006 to 2007. The move was a slight nod to the cable providers, who wanted the ban removed altogether, and a minor setback to the consumer electronics industry, who would have preferred that it stay on schedule. The ban would prevent the largest cable companies from integrating their digital content security devices with their navigation devices, allowing consumers to 'mix and match' the navigation or DVR set-top-box of their choice with a standard CableCARD security interface device. Currently, most digital cable set top boxes combine these two functions, meaning that digital cable customers who want DVR functionality must rent one from their cable company. By preventing the cable companies from leasing them to end-users, the FCC hopes to foster competition in the set-top-box market and allow more consumer choice. A statement from FCC Commissioner Johnathan Adelstein (PDF) was released simultaneously. The battle has been carefully watched by all the major players in the entertainment and electronics markets, including Microsoft, which had previously weighed in on the side of the consumer electronics camp (pro-deadline), but then later agreed with the one-year extension."

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200 comments

What about sats? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11976942)

When will be able to use Dish boxes with DirecTV and vice versa! eh!?

Truley (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11976949)

Nothing for you to see here. Please move along.

FP!!!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11976951)

Woohoo!!!!!

I want TiVo's software (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11976953)

to work with my Charter Digital Cable, is it too much to ask?

Re:I want TiVo's software (1)

Ummagumma (137757) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977050)

I have no problem using my standalone TIVO with Charter Digital cable. Whats seems to be your issue?

Re:I want TiVo's software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11977136)

I don't want to have several charter boxes and be forced to jerry rig them to record a channel other than what I'm watching. Like it does for the analog cable.

Re:I want TiVo's software (1)

dreamt (14798) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977141)

I am assuming he wants his TiVo to work just as the DirecTivo units work. Single box, containing multiple tuners that can record the digital signal directly, w/o the use of a cable box and either serial control or IR blaster. (At least, thats what I want from my TiVo/Comcast digital cable).

Re:I want TiVo's software (4, Interesting)

OwnedByTwoCats (124103) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977193)

You didn't say it directly, but it's worth bringing out: Stand-alone TiVo's record an analog signal, and digitize it and compress it itself.

DirecTiVo takes the digital stream from the satellite and writes it to hard disk.

Wouldn't it be nice if I could buy a box, hook it up to my cable service, plug in an authentication module provided by the cable service, and record their digital stream directly to hard disk? Why do I have to rent their box which only has analog outputs, control it with an IR dongle, and have the digital signal go through decompression, d-to-a, a-to-d, and compression again?

Re:I want TiVo's software (1)

dreamt (14798) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977276)

You didn't say it directly, but it's worth bringing out: Stand-alone TiVo's record an analog signal, and digitize it and compress it itself.


Yeah. That's pretty much what I implied, but not stated.

Re:I want TiVo's software (1)

Mantorp (142371) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977280)

This is what I'm talking about as well. Right now I'd need to rent Charter's PVR and almost all the reviews I've read about them are negative.

Re:I want TiVo's software (1)

Look KG486 (867105) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977490)

MythTV + IR blaster = problem solved.

Re:I want TiVo's software (1)

cens0r (655208) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977623)

Not really. This was the route I was going to go, but lets say I want to watch a record a movie on Starz while watching Deadwood on HBO? I would need to rent 2 cable boxes and set up myth with two seperate IR blasters. It's a pain to configure. Although the comcast DVR (I have the motorola box with microsfot software) isn't the best device I've used; it allows me to do most of what I want with minimal fuss and headaches.

Re:I want TiVo's software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11977644)

YES.

cince TiVo signed an deal with Comcast, you will NEVER see an integrated TiVo box for Charter or time Warner.

I suggest you get used to it, or move where Comcast is available.

hmm (3, Interesting)

tsalaroth (798327) | more than 9 years ago | (#11976955)

I still think they should force the cable companies to allow third-party boxes, using open standards (even new ones).

Yes. (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977166)

We should allow that. Then again I think we (New York at least) should allow people to choose service from different cable companies (you know to get some competition and lower prices, maybe) but then I guess that is impossible and too much to ask. I doubt they'd like the idea of cable they've strewn through the streets being used by competitors.

Cable companies (both service and channel providers) think that their programming is an *ahem*intellectual property asset. The last words they'd like to hear are open and competition: it makes companies *coughCablevisionEtAlcough* cringe. They're already concerned about not being the only stadium in Manhattan.* [newyorkjets.com] They'll try to delay this as long as corporately possible**.

*of course, so are people here who think we'd spend >$600,000,000 in taxes on the new center...but I'm straying from point here.

**I'd say humanly but what's so human about having a cable monopoly? I seriously wonder.

altho.... (5, Interesting)

Ledora (611009) | more than 9 years ago | (#11976960)

altho I am glad to see the FCC doing something to benfit the consumer, I really wonder if this is their place. it sounds to me like it is a "monpoly" type issue and should have been taken up with the FTC. But like the FCC rules to make broadcasters switch to digital I really wonder if this is the goverments place at all to be.

Re:altho.... (5, Informative)

SmokeHalo (783772) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977195)

From TFA (CableCard link):

Why is the FCC interested in CableCard? The FCC has been promoting the transition from analog programming to digital programming as it looks to free up the spectrum used by analog television broadcasts. CableCard is supposed to help speed up the transition by making it easier and cheaper for consumers to access digital programming.

And there you have it. The FCC is looking to clean house in order to make room for more signals.

Re:altho.... (1)

ac3boy (638979) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977395)

I do not see how moving to digital is going to free up any bandwidth. Broadcast HD channels are using the same spectrum as non-HD channels. Mostly UHF and in some towns VHF for a few. The only thing that is using more bandwidth is the stations are broadcasting on 2 channels for the moment, one for Analog and one for digital. When the analog is turned off, it is rumored that they will give the stations the choice to go back to a VHF channel if the original analog signal was a vhf channel. The digital channels will still be spread out across the same alotted spectrum for analog signals. I have never understood the argument that this will free up bandwidth for other uses. Anyone?

source of problems - the mayor's city council (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11977196)

In our city, the mayor basically gets to renegotiate the cable monopoly for the entire city.

They generally do nothing except resign the existing deal.

The city council could use this as a negotiating basis to let Time Warner, Comcast, etc bid for local cable service so that

prices go down
service quality goes up.

Recently, Time Warner started advertising free HD boxes with no additional cost. In newer areas of town they do not provide analog service anymore.

The FCC is dictating the MARKET now?! (-1, Flamebait)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 9 years ago | (#11976964)

Ok, I wasn't too surprised to hear these assclowns whoring themselves to the puritanic interests after Janet Jackson flashed her not-so-goods and sent a few million completely clueless assholes into a tizzy.

On what grounds can they POSSIBLY ban cable companies from leasing set-tops though? Even if it's monopoly prevention, that's the F*T*C's job.

These jackoffs HAVE to be tramping on some toes here...

Re:The FCC is dictating the MARKET now?! (3, Insightful)

BenFranske (646563) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977006)

AFAIK there are no plans to ban cable companies from leasing set top boxes, only requirements they allow me to use devices without leasing a set top box. Sounds like a good thing to me.

Re:The FCC is dictating the MARKET now?! (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977202)

My point still stands, though, that that sounds to me like an FTC issue and the FCC is stepping on its shwanz again.

Re:The FCC is dictating the MARKET now?! (1)

jeff4747 (256583) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977841)

sounds to me like an FTC issue and the FCC is stepping on its shwanz again

That's because the FCC fills the role of the FTC when dealing with communications matters.

For example, the FTC's Do Not Call list did not apply to telephone companies because they were regulated by the FCC. (IIRC, the FCC has since ordered the telcos to comply with it.)

are we hosed? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11976971)

I thought the FCC would actually take the opposing side of the Cable providers. Looks as if that's not so -- maybe the FCC should visit the homes of the top cable provider executives, get on their knees, and just finish what they're currently doing.

For the love of Jesus, let the consumers win for once.

Re:are we hosed? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11977123)

For the love of Jesus, let the consumers win for once.

Not going to happen. Time Warner, Cablevision, Comcast and all the others have already paid their bribes [opensecrets.org] to the FCC monkeys' bosses, they're going to get results.

They should probably be eliminated entirely. (3, Interesting)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 9 years ago | (#11976972)

The cost of cable, while high, does not adequately cover the cost of cable programming; commercials do that. But if they're handing out devices that conveniently skip commercials they're decreasing the value of advertising, undercutting the ability of networks to deliver quality programming.

This glut of reality TV ain't just because it's fun and interesting to watch average people compete for big dollars in unrealistic scenarios. There just isn't money to produce cool shows like Farscape or Friends anymore.

Re:They should probably be eliminated entirely. (0, Troll)

Jane_the_Great (778338) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977026)

You're a douche.

Where are your stats to back up your claim that cable bills don't entirely pay for the cost of programming? Well dickless? Could it perhaps be that commercials just add to the giant pile of money that is being generated by astronomical cable bills? Huh, fuckstain? What's that? You didn't think of that? Oh - because you're stupid? Yeah, I gathered that already you dumb fuck.

Oh, one other thing - you can take Farscape and shove it directly up your faggoty ass you fucking queer. 100% of the viewers of Farscape are dicklicking sodomites who should be burned at the stake for being faggots. Man on man action = not cool.

Re:They should probably be eliminated entirely. (4, Insightful)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977028)

I disagree. The money IS there. It's just that their broken business model doesn't support it.

People will pay big money for TV shows they've never seen on DVD. My cable company didn't start offering The SciFi Channel until well into Farscape Season 4, so I never saw it. Now I have all 4 seasons + Peacekeeper Wars on DVD, total cost: about $450

On the other hand, I just cancelled my $50/mo cable service (no digital) because other than 1/2 hour of Family Guy every weeknight, there was nothing worth watching that wasn't festering crap.

Re:They should probably be eliminated entirely. (1)

BenFranske (646563) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977088)

Sooner or later cable companies will go to a model where you "subscribe" to shows similar to a podcast and the shows get downloaded to your box where you can watch them anytime you want. I would suspect you'll be able to pull any old shows off the servers too (perhaps a limit on the number of hours each month), all in DVD or better quality.

Re:They should probably be eliminated entirely. (4, Insightful)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977232)

Great idea, unless I can't throw it on my Polaroid portable DVD player and watch it there (and we know that's gonna be the case). I'd much rather they stop screwing around and start allowing a la carte subscriptions, so I don't have to pay for MTV, CMT, VH1, etc... just to get my Cartoon Network, Comedy Central, and SciFi (kinda iffy on that one these days, though)

Re:They should probably be eliminated entirely. (2, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977254)

This glut of reality TV ain't just because it's fun and interesting to watch average people compete for big dollars in unrealistic scenarios. There just isn't money to produce cool shows like Farscape or Friends anymore.

No, they're popular because people watch the damned things. If there were no ratings for so-called 'reality' TV, it would be off the air.

The fact that it's cheaper for them to make reality shows doesn't mean there's no money for other shows, it means they make bigger profits from hugely successful shows that don't cost all that much to make.

Re:They should probably be eliminated entirely. (2, Interesting)

Bonhamme Richard (856034) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977292)

undercutting the ability of networks to deliver quality programming.

I'm don't really think that there was ever really "quality programming" on a large scale... About the only tv I have watched after the age of 12 was the Simpsons. Those in the tv industry are used to being grossly overpaid. Now that providers are lossing revinue from ads actors pay checks may actually come closer to relecting their worth.

Incedently, I think that the line between the tv and the computer is going to be blurring in the next few decades. As internet speeds increase it becomes easier and easier to download and view longer and longer movies. There could actually be a pay-per-view system of "Click here to watch xyz for 75cents" or websites that show programs that are just jammed full of pop ups or something.

No time like the present (3, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#11976979)

Pushing back the deadline buys the cable companies more time to throw it out altogether. It's standard corporate legal strategy, where the only strategy is short-term - one after another.

Re:No time like the present (1)

mmeister (862972) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977751)

Agreed. Pushing back the deadline gives no incentive to the corporations to actually comply.

And the ultimate loser in all this : the consumer!!

FCC and Cable companies do not like to concern themselves with such unimportant things like "consumers".

FCC = Friends of Cable Companies

Why ban them? (1)

papasui (567265) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977005)

Why ban cable companies from being able to provide set top boxes? ALLOW customers to have the choice. If they want to buy their own set top box for what ever price they are sold for let them. If they would prefer not to invest a bunch of money into the box then let them lease a cable box.

Re:Why ban them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11977036)

There is no talk about banning set-top boxes. Only banning integrated ones. It's all there in the slashbox and in the article, if you want to read it.

Re:Why ban them? (4, Informative)

dreamt (14798) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977108)

Its a ban from cables boxes that are not CableCard (or whatever they want to call it) enabled. It (essentially) means that instead of the cable box "decrypting" the signal AND being a tuner, it must have a seperate entity that is responsible for each of those functions. This means that other standard equiment can handle the "tuner" portion. The "decrypting" part is plugged into the tuner, just as the "decrypting" part would be plugged into a TiVo, HDTV or other standard item.

Re:Why ban them? (2, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977734)

The hard part about that....

getting Motorola, scientific atlanta, and jerrold to quit being assholes and settle on one standard for digital TV and encryption.

right now if you plug a SA box in a Motorola headend's cable feed you get NOTHING. it is intentionally incompatable (motorola's fault.) Instead of following a digital standard like DVB, the one that the rest of the world uses... the United states uses something that is utter crap, intentionally broken and screwed up by the morons at Motorola, Jerrold and SA together.

Cable card does not work because the Cable gear makers do not want it to. they want to keep Cable companies locked to their gear. Motorola wants you to be FORCED to buy Motorola boxes and gear if you have a Motorola headend, and make it insanely expensive for you to change from that.

The cable companies have nothing to do with it. bitch about the sattelite reciever makers, and head end gear makers, they are the reason it sucks.

Re:Why ban them? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11977137)


Why ban cable companies from being able to provide set top boxes? ALLOW customers to have the choice. If they want to buy their own set top box for what ever price they are sold for let them. If they would prefer not to invest a bunch of money into the box then let them lease a cable box.


That'd be fine...if we ALLOWED customers to choose their cable company. As it is, customers are assigned to particular cable companies based on their location. The only choice that the customer has is cable or no cable.

Expecting market forces and competition to work things out in this environment is crazy.

Re:Why ban them? (1)

dreamt (14798) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977321)

That'd be fine...if we ALLOWED customers to choose their cable company. As it is, customers are assigned to particular cable companies based on their location. The only choice that the customer has is cable or no cable.


That is not completly true. Your location determins this. First, there is competitors such a DirecTV and other satallite companies. More importantly, there are also areas w/ competing cable companies. Most of the Boston area has a choice between Comcast and RCN for cable (and cable modem and phone service). I beleive I have seen signs advertising RCN in NYC as well.

Re:Why ban them? (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977485)

My choice is Adelphia, because I cannot get anything else, including satellite, due to restrictions on dishes put in place by my apartment complex. In order to get satellite, I'd have to have a dish behind my apartment -- but since my apartment has no back patio, and we're not allowed to affix anything to the outer wall, I end up with Adelphia being the only solution for paid TV.

I did get the Moxi DVR from Adelphia, which in my area has pretty decent service, and it has changed how I watch TV significantly. Hell, it's changed how I view any visual entertainment. In movie theaters, if I missed some bit of dialog, I sometimes reach for the remote for a moment before remembering where I am. It's not the best solution -- no predictive recording and abysmally small storage -- but it's good enough for now. I just wish that the cablemodem in it were activated so that I could get rid of the one in the office.

Re:Why ban them? (1)

Jimbroskee (868900) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977857)

I whole heartedly agree with this. I had not even heard of this legislation till today. What is eventually going to happen is customers like me who are very pleased with their cable provided set top DVR are going to have to have two boxes and inevitably pay more.

Canadians (3, Interesting)

teknokracy (660401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977012)

Examples like this do make me wish the FCC had control over Canada. The CRTC only seem to care about Canadian content percentages on our stations, and not about competition, innovation, or anything that makes sense. Maybe if more Canadian shows and artists were GOOD, we wouldn't have to baby them on to the scene with handouts.

Re:Canadians (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977374)

But... Canada produced such wonderful actors as William Shatner! How could they go wrong with that kind of talent?!

Re:Canadians (1)

LPetrazickis (557952) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977658)

Silly American. William Shatner is the kind of artist that we Canadians export. We keep the really talented folks for ourselves.;)

Re:Canadians (1)

Kenshin (43036) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977685)

Actually, the CanCon laws are there because it's is cheaper simply to purchase American content than it is to produce Canadian content.

Channels like Global, which produces very little visible Canadian content, would love to stuff their schedule with nothing but american programming. It would be alot cheaper for them.

So, it's not a matter of Canadian shows "sucking", it's more a matter of a proverbial "Wal-Mart" rolling into town and crushing everything else with cheap garbage.

Cable Boxes (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11977017)

Frankly I hate the cable boxes the cable company offers.

I liked the good old days when the sign can and I could split it to my 2 TVs.

Now they think I should buy/rent two cable boxes - one for each TV.

Now that I have a TV that has Side by Side picture they think I should have two cable boxes for that one TV.

It is geating crazy. My TV has a built in decoder for basic channels.

Stop these stupid cable boxes!!!! just send the whole signal to my house and allow me to buy spliter and such as I see fit.

Re:Cable Boxes (1)

British (51765) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977267)

You gotta love it. Video technology is increasing at a pretty good pace, but the blasted fucking digital cable box is several years behind.

The only advancement I've seen is the Video on Demand. I like it.

But, we have first person shooter games with gazillions of polygons, insane refresh rate, yet they can't make a cable box menu(in my case Motorola's), scroll fast enough.

Someday I want a Hauppage digital cable tuner PCI card so I can watch all the cable channels in my bedroom. And please, clean signal.

Re:Cable Boxes (2, Informative)

Scyber (539694) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977324)

Well one reason cable companies like to use digital channels is b/c they can fit more channels in the same amount of bandwidth.

I also think that the Cable company is required to send OTA (over the air) network channels un-encrypted over the cable wire. So you should at least be able to get the Networks.

YES! I say ban all the commercial PVRs! (1)

dmouritsendk (321667) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977019)

And use MythTV, or any of the other OS PVR software.

Re:YES! I say ban all the commercial PVRs! (1)

Gruneun (261463) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977340)

YES! I say ban all the commercial PVRs! And use MythTV, or any of the other OS PVR software

Many typical people, some talented geeks included, would rather spend the extra couple bucks for a commercial device than spend their time dealing with one that nobody else is responsible for maintaining.

That aside, straight-out banning of commercial items for open source alternatives is just asinine.

Choice in set-top boxes (4, Insightful)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977068)


but no choice in cable providers.

Personally, I would prefer the latter to the former.

Re:Choice in set-top boxes (2, Informative)

dreamt (14798) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977342)

As I said above [slashdot.org], this all depends on your location. We have competing cable providers (Comcast and RCN) in the Boston area.

FCC is pro competition? (1, Insightful)

daves (23318) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977096)

If they want competition, they should eliminate the broadcast flag [eff.org].

The Broadcast Flag isn't about Competition!!! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11977502)

Competition is about the ability to get access to the home, through satellite or some form of cable (either copper or fiber optic). Competition is about being able to choose one provider for your service, but not be locked into their electronics.

The broadcast flag is about fair use rights. Changing the broadcast flag does absolutely nothing as far as competition is concerned, unless you're a pirate who hopes to pick up the shows free off the Internet. Since I hope your goal is protecting fair use and not violating copyright, your statement makes no sense, because the two ideas are not connected.

-1 Offtopic for you (if I could)

Please Explain (1)

halo8 (445515) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977099)

Can someone (an American) please explain to this Canadian what a cable box is?

cable just comes out of the wall straight into my TV i dont need a box. there is box on the outside of the house, but thats a junction box.

Re:Please Explain (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977158)

Can someone (an American) please explain to this Canadian what a cable box is?

It's a set top box that you change channels with. Most American TVs are also "cable ready" (where the coax goes directly into the set). But for whatever reason you can not pick up the full compliment of channels with this from most providers. Someone more into cable will have the answer to that. I guess it's because the set top box is the only way they currently have to break down the subscriber selects, leaving the unsubscribed channels undecoded to the subscriber.

Re:Please Explain (1)

great om (18682) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977163)

a cable box is the decoder that descrambles (or in the case of Digital TV decodes) the content coming down the wire and then transfers it to the TV. In digital cable, it also allows for a channel guide and optionally, on demand features

Re:Please Explain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11977172)

Can someone (an American) please explain to this Canadian what a cable box is?

Aren't Canadians Americans too? ;)

Re:Please Explain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11977215)

For basic cable here in the US, there's no difference ususally. The cable is connected outside the residence, runs inside to usually one connector in each room. A cable then runs from the wall, to the back of the TV.

Certain cable companies offer more channels than the normal TV's tuner can "tune into" so it's the cable box's job to turn 500 channels into the 126 or so the TV can tune (you tune the cable box, not the TV).

In other cases, the cable box "decodes" special digital streams (supposedly better quality picture) and transforms them into an analog stream for most normal TV's.

Some special channels (adult oriented) are encrypted so it's the cable box's job to decrypt the channel for viewing.

Some cable box's also have rudimentary ability to store a TV Guide, a listing of shows and on what channels/what times they appear.

"Cable box" is the US simply means any box that customarily sits on top of the TV and adds some feature for which the cable company can charge you more $ for.

Re:Please Explain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11977229)


Can someone (an American) please explain to this Canadian what a cable box is?


Dunno man. I'm an American and haven't seen a cable box in years. Back when cable was new you needed a converter with this cheesy "remote" (actually just a box on a long ass cable) with 50 buttons so you could select the stations. Bur like I said, haven't seen it for years.

Where I am cable comes out of the wall and into my TV (after passing through the VCR of course ;-) )

Re:Please Explain (1)

Tenebrious1 (530949) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977303)

Can someone (an American) please explain to this Canadian what a cable box is? cable just comes out of the wall straight into my TV i dont need a box. there is box on the outside of the house, but thats a junction box.

Yes, with standard analog cable, you can still do this in the states; just hook the cable to your TV or VCR. However, many areas have switched to digital cable; and since most TV sets don't have digital tuners, you need the box from the cable company to decode the signal. Which also means you need you have to rent a separate tuner for every TV.

This 30yr old is gonna tell a tall tale... (2, Insightful)

SoundGuyNoise (864550) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977400)

Gather round kids, this 30yr old is gonna tell a tall tale....

In stone age times, before the Internet, even before remote control was standard gear, just about every TV only went from Channels 2-13.

So to get the channel #s that went higher, you'd plug in the cable box, leave the TV tuned to channel 3, and use the box for your channel switching needs. They either had a button for each channel, or a slider.

We still had to get up to turn the TV on or adjust the volume, but if you had a good cable box, it had a long wire so you could at least change channels from across the room.

Re:This 30yr old is gonna tell a tall tale... (2, Insightful)

fracai (796392) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977698)

while that limitation was probably part of the reason for set top boxes, it doesn't tell the whole story. TVs now can go up as high as they need to so the boxes should be optional. If your TV can go high enough, it shouldn't need the box. Cable Companies got all paranoid about stealing cable and providing premium services. As has been said before, the box now also descrambles protected signals and provides interactive guides. It also acts as a tuner, which makes the tuner already in your TV somewhat redundant.

The CableCard should bring us back to the days of 2-13. An encrypted signal will come into your home, be decoded by the CableCard box and be available to any device in your home as an unencrypted stream. You can now split the signal as many times as is feasible. Each split can be independantly tuned, viewed, recorded.

The set top box is a mostly ridiculous concept at this point. Sure it provides an interactive guide, but that could easily be provided directly to the TV. Plus they can suck outright (my old Cox cable box [old as in different provider. Cox still provides the same sucky box] would take a full second to change channels)

Re:This 30yr old is gonna tell a tall tale... (1)

kb7oeb (543726) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977793)

The cable card doesn't decrypt for your whole house. You need one for each tuner. The cable card Tivo with dual tuners takes two cable cards.

Re:This 30yr old is gonna tell a tall tale... (1)

fracai (796392) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977914)

well that's just retarded
I'd expect though that there will be this sort of house wide decryption, US market or not.

Re:This 30yr old is gonna tell a tall tale... (1)

HeadCrash (75749) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977806)

More info from another 30-something here: You left out the fact that most TV sets also had the "U" on the dial that went from 2-13 to be able to pull in the UHF band. Switch it to "U" and you could use the SECOND dial on the set to pull in another 50-70 channels, of which maybe four were being utilized by actual broadcast stations.

Back in the day we had two other channels that we could pick up on the UHF - 17 and 20. And then a new local broadcast company started up on channel 55 - My parents loved hearing me switching the dial to that one (because that was where all the cartoons were):
*CLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICKCLIC K*

Dang... now I DO feel old...

Re:This 30yr old is gonna tell a tall tale... (1)

Evil Grinn (223934) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977893)

Gather round kids, this 30yr old is gonna tell a tall tale....

In stone age times, before the Internet, even before remote control was standard gear, just about every TV only went from Channels 2-13.


One 30yr old to another: don't you remember UHF?

Short Explanation (1)

TigerTime (626140) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977660)

The box performes many of the same benefits that the DirecTV box does.
- scrollable TV guide
- channel filtering
- crisper digital streams
- more channels
- ordering PPV from the remote
- etc, etc.

Well of course Microsoft agreed to an extension! (2, Interesting)

Isca (550291) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977115)

Pushing the cablecard back another year means that Microsoft just has to play a waiting game for Tivo to go bankrupt or become irrelevant in this market. Pushing this back another year probably makes it difficult for tivo to survive.

Re:Well of course Microsoft agreed to an extension (1)

entrager (567758) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977781)

A week ago I would have agreed with you, but the recent Comcast/TiVo deal kills any "TiVo is dying" arguments.

Re:Well of course Microsoft agreed to an extension (1)

Isca (550291) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977870)

Not entirely. They are getting significantly less than the $1 per sub they were getting under comcast. This doesn't mean that tivo-as-a-company is dying, but it could mean that tivo-as-a-pvrprovider is dying. The details of the comcast deal remain to be seen -- they are basically just doing the software for it.

let's all be like the FCC (2, Funny)

pughumper (868881) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977130)

Visit the office of your local cable provider executive, drop to your knees, open mouth, and take it from there. When will the consumer get ahead in any of this?

Michael Powell (1)

razmaspaz (568034) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977171)

I know we hate Michael Powell, but have we made up our minds on this guy yet?

A statement from FCC Commissioner Johnathan Adelstein

Re:Michael Powell (1)

DustMagnet (453493) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977282)

Jonathan Adelstein is a commissioner. Kevin Martin replaced Michael Powell as chairman. I think he'll be worse, since he was critical of Powell for not being tough enough on indecency.

Re:Michael Powell (1)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977737)

I know we hate Michael Powell, but have we made up our minds on this guy yet?

Wait a minute, I thought we hated people who assumed everybody on slashdot thought the same way about everything?

I'm confused. Where do I report for hive-mind re-programming?

Doesn't sound so good to me (1)

Odocoileus (802272) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977177)

By preventing the cable companies from leasing them to end-users,

I have a $500 DVR, that works beautifully, plays to two TV's independently, and I pay $5 a month for it from my satellite provider. I could not afford it on my own, is this what they are trying to do?

What about OTA boxes? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11977199)

Slightly OT, but whatever happened to the "inexpensive settop digital converter boxes" they promised would be available to convert older TVs to digital capability? I don't consider $250-$300 "cheap", it's more of a price point to get folks to buy digital ready TVs instead, tossing perfectly good analog TVs.

While we're on the subject on the FCC... (-1, Offtopic)

Caseyscrib (728790) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977204)

I recieved an email this morning from WesPAC asking me to sign a petition to tell the FCC to stop being censorship nazis. I remember reading a post on here somewhere about ./ members not having anywhere to complain about oversensorship to the FCC, so I figure this is somewhat relevant.

If you're interested in signing the petition, please do so here: http://ga4.org/campaign/fcc/step1.tcl [ga4.org]. It only takes a second and if the FCC gets a few million signatures that could only mean good news for Americans.

Jurisdiction? (2, Interesting)

null etc. (524767) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977205)

I'm surprised that everyone is letting the FCC get away with this. Since when do they have the authority to mandate the business model of cable companies? Pretty soon they'll be telling mobile phone providers that they can't lock their phone or use proprietary technologies.

I, as a consumer, personally like the choice that these decisions are providing to consumers, but I disagree that the FCC should be involved.

Monopolies need regulation (2, Insightful)

joshtimmons (241649) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977314)

The difference between cell phone providers and cable companies is that the cable companies are local monopolies. In my area (and yours too) you have to buy from whichever cable company is in your market. I think it's entirely reasonable to expect some regulation in exchange for a protected market.

Re:Monopolies need regulation (1)

Shalda (560388) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977764)

Cable companies are a pretty limited monopoly. Nearly anywhere you can get cable you can also get satelite. Maybe not so much for renters, but most people can choose between Dish Network, DirecTV and the local cable company. The only real edge the cable company has in that marketspace is the ability to also provide broadband internet service. I think it is very poor policy to dictate the development of technology. History has always shown that government standards inevitably lead to uniform mediocracy.

And in case your wondering, I only get free over the air programming. (analog to my TV, HD to my PC.) I would happily sign up for a service that offered ala carte programming, though. I can't justify spending $45/month for DIY, SciFi and Spike.

Re:Monopolies need regulation (1)

GreyPoopon (411036) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977814)

The difference between cell phone providers and cable companies is that the cable companies are local monopolies. In my area (and yours too) you have to buy from whichever cable company is in your market. I think it's entirely reasonable to expect some regulation in exchange for a protected market.

You know, I think this statement applies adequately to telephone service providers (the Baby Bells), but I'm not sure I feel the same way about the cable companies. The difference is that when the Bells (AT&T at the time) set up their infrastructure, they used taxpayers dollars for part of it. I don't believe the same is true for cable companies. Therefore, they've had to eat the cost of running cable to houses. Any other (even small) company could compete just fine with them, provided they are willing to bite the bullet and run the fiber...

Flip-Flop (0, Troll)

lbmouse (473316) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977236)

Microsoft, which had previously weighed in on the side of the consumer electronics camp (pro-deadline), but then later agreed with the one-year extension.

When did John Kerry take over leadership of Micorosft?

CableCards (5, Insightful)

wwonka74 (861731) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977313)

I'm sure this was also pushed back because the manufacturers of devices with cablecard technology still do not have all their ducks in a row. My local cableco supports and provides cablecards to customer's that would rather have them but the lack of 2-way communication certain niceties are ousted like the digital guide and pay per view(which is why I _enjoy_ the box in the first place). Our local cable company allowed customers to purchase their own HD converter boxes at local retailers and it was toppled because customers deemed the $350 price tag on the HD boxes outrageous so the cable company picked up the tab, ordered a slew of boxes and now leases them. Complaints about the use of set-top boxes need to be directed at the manufacturers of Televisions/VCRs and DVRs. They are the ones having most of the issues with compatibilty. Ask anyone with a Sony WEGA or a Mitsubishi TV how well their cableCARD works .. well it worked for a few days but now it's acting odd.

Re:CableCards (1)

bXTr (123510) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977492)

CableCard in its current incarnation is broken. It only does one-way communication, so you can't use interactive services like Video On Demand, Pay-Per-View, Broadcast Schedules, etc. They should fix *that* first before forcing cable companies to push it to the customers.

wonder how this affects tv production? (4, Interesting)

Mark19960 (539856) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977427)

I work in the elctronics industry, and in the last year I have seen a tow fold increase in the number of sets with cablecard capability. I think its a good thing.

I have seen samsung, sony, and thompson (RCA,GE, ect) with cablecard slots for the pcmcia card.

so, will this derail production of set with this integrated capability? ive seen a lot of sets, and a lot of sets that arrive that customers actually lease cablecards from the cable co. here (time warner)

so, I wonder if the number of sets with cablecard that I see for repair will come to a halt in the near future or what?
seems like its heading down the path to being nuked altogether.

but, I cant understand why the FCC has delayed this?
the cable cos is still going to charge you to lease that pcmcia card, and its still going to be the same amount. now if there were rules that placed a cap on that, I am even more for it.

Re:wonder how this affects tv production? (2, Informative)

Isca (550291) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977824)

Cablecard 1.0 is already out there, this type of card allows you to decode Digital Channels only.

The digital standard that's being pushed back is a technology that specifies that all of the higher order functions, such as interactive menus, ordering PPV, Video-on-demand, etc are controlled by the card. This is what cablecard 2.0 standard encompasses. The shipping card slots now are only 1.0 slots. The 2.0 cards will be backwards compatible, but they keep flip flopping on the how it will work and companies can't even start to implement a 2.0 standard until it's finalized.

The big score for the cable companies on this pushback is that not only is it not implemented for another year, but that the interface will not have to be specified until then too, keeping companies from offering a product that can be upgraded simply by putting in the new card.

For as long as... (3, Interesting)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977537)

The cable companies can win a one year extension every six months, they win. I personally bet they will try this. Content providers do this with copyright and trademark extensions.

This is important because... (1)

jfmerryman (670236) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977789)

If the cable companies are allowed to have proprietary (non-cablecard) boxes, what motivation do they have to open everything up to cablecards in other equipment? Right now, because it's not a mandatory part of the STB, cablecard is crippled (one-way signal being the biggest deficiency). I for one think that this mandate is a great way to provide meaningful consumer choice. Nothing is wrong with the cable companies offering leased boxes, but it's not of for them to lock all the cool features into those boxes so that third-party equipment is always inferior.

Friggin Monopoly (1)

dopelogik (862715) | more than 9 years ago | (#11977933)

I'm glad to see the FCC stepping in to do something useful (excuse derogatory generalization). Now the next step is to force cable providers to provide a la carte channel ordering. Honestly, I sick of cable monopolies and the rediculous prices. Companies now use "digital cable" as an excuse to charge a ton more for the lowest rate cable package. If I could only pay for the 3 channels I like, then I could pay maybe $20 a month for cable. And then have pay-per-view available for every channel on a daily rate.. [/ramble]

infomercials (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11977948)

Ya and wtf is with all these infomercials in the early am. You pay big bucks for tv and this is what we get.
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