MSTV Supports CableCARD Mandate

The Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV) has jumped into the set-top-box debate at the Federal Communications Commission, taking the side of the consumer-electronics and computer industries against the cable industry.

MSTV, which helps to shape spectrum and digital-television policy for many U.S. commercial-TV stations, urged the FCC to require cable to deploy only CableCARD-enabled boxes after July 2006.

FCC chairman Michael Powell, who is leaving office at the end of the week, supports a one-year delay of the ban on integrated cable boxes.

“MSTV believes that maintaining the requirement for cable operators to deploy devices relying on separable security will serve the public interest and advance the transition to digital television,” MSTV president David Donovan said in a March 14 letter to the FCC.

Meanwhile, Comcast Corp. told the FCC in a separate March 14 letter that it still supported elimination of the integration ban, but it would not oppose a 12-month delay. Comcast argued that market conditions have changed dramatically since the FCC’s adoption of the ban and noted that the ban unfairly failed to apply to cable’s chief competitors, DirecTV Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp.