NCTA: There is no need for FCC's DSTAC to produce a CableCard successor for set-tops

The NCTA has urged the FCC to reject calls for a new technology standard aimed at opening the pay-TV set-top market to devices sold at retail. 

Commenting on a report issued from the FCC's Downloadable Security Technology Advisory Committee (DSTAC), the cable lobbying group said the report "underscores that there is no need for FCC technology mandates in a marketplace where consumers can access MVPD and OVD content on a wide array of retail devices."

In August, DSTAC issued a report suggesting a range of new technologies intended to replace the CableCard, which has been the security standard for enabling retail-sold devices, such as DVRs made by TiVo, to be used in the pay-TV echo-system.

Last year's passage of the Satellite Television Extension Act Reauthorization (STELAR) sunsetted the requirement that cable operators include CableCard support in their own boxes. It also mandated that the FCC form a committee, DSTAC, to come up with a successor to CableCard.

DSTAC's report includes several proposals, including supporting the AllVid standard, which the NCTA and cable industry oppose. Under DSTAC's AllVid proposal, a "translation device" would be placed somewhere within the network -- either in the customer's home or at the cable operator's head end. This device, which would be federally mandated, would enable retail-sold set-tops to authenticate and work with proprietary cable networks.

The DSTAC committee also recommended an apps-based solution to the set-top situation -- but the NCTA said the cable industry is already supporting that approach in the form of TV Everywhere. The NCTA said an "apps revolution" is already occurring, with pay-TV content available on "millions of smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, streaming devices, game consoles and PCs." Apps from pay-TV providers have been downloaded more than 56 million times, the NCTA said, to more than 460 million video devices in the U.S., more than twice the number of set-top boxes currently in use.

In short, the NCTA said the market is already deploying an apps-based solution, so the DSTAC's recommendations are outdated and moot. The proposal "puts the government -- not TV innovators -- in charge of how video is delivered to consumers," NCTA said.

Matt Zinn, corporate counsel for TiVo, disagreed with the NCTA's conclusions. In comments to FierceCable, Zinn said the cable industry's embrace of TV Everywhere multiscreen apps isn't good enough to satisfy consumer choice, and that government intervention is still required. He also voiced support for the AllVid standard and accused the NCTA of framing the technology as a "boogeyman."

TiVo is one of the main suppliers of retail set-top boxes and also was a supporter of CableCard.

For more:
- read this NCTA announcement

Special Report:  DSTAC, CableCard, pay-TV apps and the future of the cable industry's $20B set-top business

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