CEA complains about OpenCable
Consumer-electronics manufacturers said recent Federal Communication
Commission filings prove that content providers and the cable industry want to
limit consumers' copying rights by subversively including copy protections in
standards written to build OpenCable set-top boxes.
The dispute centers on what is referred to as the PHILA license, or Point of Deployment-Host
Interface License Agreement. That license contains technical standards
manufacturers need to build interoperable cable set-top boxes that can be
plugged into any cable network and any TV and then used to deliver video and
data services to consumers.
Cable Television Laboratories Inc., which is backed by the cable industry, developed the license, but so
far, only four consumer-electronics manufacturers -- Pioneer Cable and Communications
Group, Pace Micro Technology plc, Motorola Broadband Communications
Sector and Scientific-Atlanta Inc. -- have been willing to sign
The Consumer Electronics Association said this is because the PHILA
license "contains onerous and draconian copy-protection provisions, which, if
implemented, would lead to irate consumers and a stalled digital-television
The CEA and the Home Rights Recording Coalition also said the Motion Picture
Association of America and the National Cable & Telecommunications
Association showed their true colors on the issue in their answers to questions
posed by the FCC Media Bureau during the last digital TV "hoedown" May 10.
In their comments, CableLabs and the NCTA said it is
"incongruous at best for . CE manufacturers and retailers to decry the
requirement for such tools in PHILA when they and their constituent members
build and sell direct-broadcast satellite equipment that includes the very same
"This is a complete misrepresentation of the letter we sent to the FCC," MPAA spokesman Rich Taylor said. "We do
express an understanding of what cable's needs are. We did not betray any
Congressional assurance. We honor the letter and we directly quote from it. It's
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Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.