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Future of cable-ready DTV sets bright

Cable- and consumer-equipment executives are increasingly optimistic that they are near an interindustry agreement that will allow the manufacture of
"plug-and-play" digital-television sets that will work with cable with no need
for set-top boxes.

National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Robert Sachs
said Monday that negotiations between the two industries were boosted by Panasonic Consumer Electronics'
decision last week to sign Cable Television Laboratories Inc.'s license allowing channel-surfing functions
of TV sets to be compatible with cable-system security devices.

The so-called pod-host interface license has been opposed by
consumer-equipment makers. The manufacturers complained that the copy-protection
measures required by the cable industry would infringe on home recording rights.
Panasonic is the first maker of consumer equipment to sign the license. Previously,
only suppliers of cable-industry set-top boxes such as Scientific-Atlanta Inc. and
Motorola Inc. signed the agreement.

"Panasonic is not likely to have an open field for very long," Sachs told the
annual digital-TV conference hosted by MSTV.

CableLabs and the broadcast industry's Advanced Television Systems Committee
are also trying to make their separate interactive-television standards, OpenCable Applications Platform and Digital Application Software Environment, MSTV
attendees were told prior to Sachs' speech.