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ABI: DBS Left Out of Digital-Tuner Arena

The plug-and-play initiative by the cable and consumer-electronics industries is threatening to leave direct-broadcast satellite providers behind, according to ABI Research.

“Without participation in the ‘plug-and-play’ agreement deliberations, DBS providers may be in danger of getting locked out of this next step in the [Federal Communications Commission’s] digital-transition efforts,” the research firm said in a prepared statement.

Thanks to the collaboration between the cable and consumer-electronics industries, manufacturers such as Sony Electronics Corp., Thompson Consumer Electronics and Panasonic Consumer Electronics have said they will offer one-way digital-cable-ready sets in North America by midyear.

However, top DBS providers EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV Inc. have not been included in the plug-and-play process.

“If consumers in the future are faced with the choice of simply buying a new, completely integrated digital TV versus having to purchase and connect multiple [consumer-premises equipment], will this unfairly stem the flow of new subscribers from DBS and revert new digital-TV subscribers back to the MSOs in North America over time?” ABI said in a prepared statement.

“Shouldn't the industry also be focusing on offering digital-cable and satellite-decoder integrated TVs to create a fair marketplace for both cable and satellite operators?,” the researcher added.