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TiVo Asks Bureau to Rethink Charter Waiver

TiVo has joined the Consumer Electronics Association in a
challenge to the FCC's conditional waiver to Charter to supply set-tops with
downloadable security rather than the current CableCARD hardware fix, but it is
taking a different route.

The Consumer Electronics Association on Monday soughta full-commission review of the Media Bureau-level decision, arguing that
the bureau did not have the authority to make the call.

But TiVo is taking a different tack, instead asking the
bureau to reconsider its decision rather than challenging its authority to make
it, though TiVo did say that as currently constituted, the waiver did exceed
the bureau's authority.

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.

In March, the
bureau granted the two-year waiver
with a number of conditions, but ones
CEA, and TiVO, suggest are too aspirational to be effective.

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 first been vetted in a
separate proceeding.

Tivo say it does not oppose the waiver per se, but argues
that the bureau went too far, and should modify it to "(1) require Charter
to continue to supply and support CableCARDs to subscribers wishing to use new
retail devices; (2) clarify that the Bureau has made no findings regarding
whether Charter's planned system or any other 'downloadable' system complies
with the integration ban; and (3) clarify that no security system is or will be
compliant with the Commission's rules unless the details of the complete system
have been presented to the Commission in a proceeding with notice and the opportunity
for the public to comment."

That would mean that the CableCARD regime could
not be phased out until a downloadable security regime was in place and the
technology supported by the cable industry.