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More Reaction to Cablevision's Crypto-Ban Waiver Request

Here’s a recap of other comments — for, against and neither — on Cablevision’s request to the FCC for an exemption to the ban on basic broadcast encryption, in addition to those filed by New York City and Yonkers this week and various consumers (see NYC, Yonkers Weigh In On Cablevision Encryption Request, Cablevision Seeks To Encrypt Broadcast Basic Channels, and Cablevision’s Broadcast TV Encryption Request: 0 For, 7 Against).

Supporting Cablevision’s request:

RCN: “RCN supports Cablevision’s request to allow encryption of the basic tier of an all-digital transmission platform and requests that the Commission extend such waiver to other cable and open video system operators for their all-digital systems. Grant of such a waiver will clearly improve customer service by enabling customers to activate, upgrade and terminate service without appointments and delay, eliminate costly and environmentally unfriendly truck rolls, avoid the potential for theft of cable service and provide improved intellectual property protection for digital and HD content.”

BendBroadband: “[A] regulation from yesterday stands in the way of delivering all of the new benefits of an all-digital network to consumers. As Cablevision explained in its request, the deployment of an all-digital network enables a cable operator to offer customers ‘an easier and more efficient way to activate and terminate service — without appointments, without delay’ - but only if the cable operator receives a waiver from the Commission to permit it to encrypt its digital programming.”

National Puerto Rican Coalition, National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, Hispanic Federation, and A. Philip Randolph Institute New York Chapter: “The conversion to all-digital television - led by the Commission’s successful stewardship of the DTV broadcast transition earlier this year - holds great promise for consumers. A smarter digital cable network will free customers from having to wait for installation, deactivation and most service calls. It will enable consumers to enjoy reduced installation costs. It will also make it easier for consumers to cancel their service in order to switch to another provider. Granting the Cablevision petition will advance all of these goals by adding more functions to the network rather than requiring cable technicians to gain access to customers’ homes. Fewer home visits also mean less traffic on our already congested New York streets.”

Opposing Cablevision’s request:

Consumer Electronics Association: “Allowing Cablevision to encrypt its basic programming tier would mean taking away a vital low-cost option for consumers - the ability to receive basic programming without a set-top box or CableCARD rental. A waiver would also render inoperable many QAM tuner devices purchased by subscribers. Cablevision’s Petition does not present the particularized ’strong need’ that Section 76.630(a) requires. Because it does not meet the rule’s criteria, and because it would deny consumers an option that the Commission has long considered vital, the Petition should be denied.”

MSTV, trade association of local broadcast television stations: “The Commission should not waive Section 76.630(a) in this case. The Petition does not satisfy the waiver standard set forth in the rule, and a waiver would harm Cablevision’s subscribers. Therefore, the Commission should deny the Petition. In the alternative, the Commission should require Cablevision to provide equipment necessary to decrypt the basic-tier signals on a free-of-charge basis to basic-only subscribers, and should ensure that broadcasters’ audio/visual quality, program-related material, and channel branding are preserved.”

Connecticut’s Area Nine Cable Council: “We are most concerned about the granting of a waiver to Cablevision for the prohibition on encryption of the basic service tier if such an action was to eventually enacted in our service area also. If Cablevision receives this waiver, not only will the broadcast channels be encrypted, but so will the Public, Education and Government access channels… The accessibility of PEG channels with clear-QAM provided Cablevision an argument of legality to an otherwise restrictive change in the availability of PEG to all subscribers. By taking away this option, subscribers would have to pay an additional monthly rental fee to receive PEG programming for each and every TV set in their households.”

Not opposing or supporting Cablevision’s request:

Public Knowledge and Media Access Project: “Public Knowledge and Media Access Project (collectively ‘Commenters’) do not oppose the waiver request of Cablevision Systems Corporation (‘Cablevision’), subject to certain conditions to protect consumers and businesses that rely upon the current availability of an unencrypted basic tier signal. Cablevision has shown specific facts and circumstances why in the case of New York City it would serve the public interest to grant a waiver — assuming Cablevision mitigates the cost to consumers by providing free set top boxes for some period, and can guarantee that ‘legacy equipment’ such as DVRs without CableCARD will continue to function through the use of the analog output.”