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NCTA: End set-top integration ban

An interindustry agreement allowing the manufacture of "plug-and-play"
cable-ready digital-TV sets is one more reason not to ban system operators from
offering set-top converter boxes that integrate both security and program-guide
functions, cable lobbyists are telling the Federal Communications

Supplementing its argument against the 2005 ban on integrated set-top boxes, the
National Cable & Telecommunications Association March 6 told the FCC that
recent plug-and-play agreements demonstrated the cable industry's commitment to
creating a competitive retail market for set-top "navigational devices."

The ban was imposed by the FCC as a way to stimulate a retail market for set-top
boxes by eliminating cable operators' perceived advantage in marketing devices
directly to their subscribers.

The cable industry said the ban "would limit consumer choice" and potentially force cable
customers to buy devices laden with features they don't want.

On the other side of the issue, the Consumer Electronics Retailers Coalition and manufacturer Thomson Consumer Electronics maintained that the ban remains necessary and urged the FCC
not to even consider relaxing the ban until the agency rules on whether to approve the plug-and-play

Comments on the plug-and-play standard are due March 28; replies April