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Ken S 06-07-2010 10:14 AM

All Things Digital Excerpt
From The Wall Street Journal - Monday June 07, 2010

This is an excerpt from The Regulatory Challenge an interview between WSJ's Walter Mossberg and FCC's chairman Julius Genachowski:

MR. MOSSBERG: I want to talk about another issue that came up: set-top boxes. If there was really an open market in these things, that box that the cable company gives you would just be the worst thing on the shelf and you'd never buy it.

There's supposed to be an open market in set-top boxes. Why are you not enforcing that law? Why can't I go to Best Buy and find a whole selection of set-top boxes?

MR. GENACHOWSKI: We are working on this. It's a real issue—

MR. MOSSBERG: Working? The law is like 10 years old.

MR. GENACHOWSKI: The FCC had tried to implement the law by creating something called a cable card. Some people might have experimented with cable cards. If you get TiVo you need to get a cable card.

MR. MOSSBERG: I have it. It's terrible.

MR. GENACHOWSKI: It hasn't worked. It hasn't generated competition in this space.

If you think about the Internet—millions of apps, with tremendous value and benefit. If you think about smartphones—250,000 apps. If you think about your living room, you can count the apps on one hand. It tells you what's broken and the potential benefits in terms of investment, innovation, if we can fix it.

We have a proceeding open now to look at whether there's a way to move toward a universal gateway device that would address this issue of competition in set-top boxes…a gateway device that protects the pay model, that protects intellectual property but that unleashes innovation in the living room.

For the whole interview, see:

The All Things Digital series:
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What I find disconcerting, is that the TV manufacturers had eliminated the capability of CableCARD. It's time for the TV industry to reinstate that capability, instead of being at the mercy of the cable providers forcing the users into renting set-top boxes. And, why isn't the FCC enforcing the rules published on May 13, 1999?

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