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Media Bureau Seeks Comment on TiVo Petition

The Media Bureau has set a comment schedule for TiVo's
petition asking the FCC to ensure that cable customers can continue to use
retail set-top boxes, like TiVo's, that employ CableCARD security technology.

The commission has set Sept. 16 for comments and Oct. 9 for
reply comments on TiVo's petition to reinstate the FCC's its CableCARD rules
after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit essentially gutted them as
part of a decision that the FCC lacked authority to apply encoding rules to all
MVPDs, including satellite operators.

The decision was not aimed at CableCARDs, but it raised
questions about cable obligations to support consumer access to the cards, and
TiVo wants the FCC to make it clear those obligations still apply, since
CableCARDs also allow access to TiVo recording devices. 

"[C]ertain technical rules concerning the
implementation of CableCARDs [conditional access rules] were contained in the
same FCC order that the court struck down despite the fact that operator
support for retail devices using CableCARDs was not the subject of the court
challenge," TiVo said in its petition.

In 2007, the FCC instituted the prohibition on set-tops that
combine channel surfing with security.

Cable ops were required to use a removable CableCARD security
add-on, a move the FCC hoped would goose the retail market, though it conceded
at the time that a downloadable software security option would be preferable to
the hardware in the long run. It has since conceded that the ban has not
spurred that retail market.

TiVo has also asked the commission to rethink its
conditional waiver to Charter to supply set-tops with downloadable security,
rather than the current CableCARD hardware fix. TiVo is concerned that Charter
will no longer support its set-tops, which feature the CableCARD technology,
and the ban will translate to a de facto green light for other operators to
drop support of the CableCARD in favor of a downloadable security system that
has not been vetted in a separate proceeding.

At the Cable Show in Washington last month, FCC
Media Bureau chief Bill Lake said that one of the "sleeper" issues at
the FCC, or more like one that had him tossing and turning in bed, was where to
go with navigation devices after the courts essentially threw out the CableCARD
rules while preserving the integration ban. The question of what downloadable
security should be included in navigation devices remains, he said.