FCC Issues NPRM to Modify the Current CableCARD System


On April 21, 2010, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) issued the third in a series of promised Notices of Proposed Rulemakings (“NPRMs”) designed to implement its National Broadband Plan.  In its NPRM, the Commission proposes consumer-friendly modifications to the current CableCARD system with the goal of fostering a competitive market for navigation devices compatible with Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (“MVPD”). CableCARDs allow a consumer‘s television to display MVPD-encrypted video programming.  Currently, the Commission‘s rules require MVPDs to rely on CableCARDs to promote the development of a competitive market for retail navigation devices connecting consumers to video subscription services.

Since most subscribers continue to use traditional set-top boxes leased from their cable operators, the Commission proposes implementation of the standard interface through an intermediary “AllVid” adapter. The adapter, a model of the “gateway device” described in the Commission‘s National Broadband Plan, should permit providers to continue to innovate, and consumers to switch service providers without necessitating a device replacement.

In the interim, the Commission suggests improvements to the CableCARD system to narrow the gap between consumers choosing retail CableCARD-equipped video devices and those leasing a cable provider‘s video navigation box.  Specifically, the FCC seeks comments on ways to:  (1) require retail devices to offer comparable access to prescheduled video programming; (2) make CableCARD pricing and billing more transparent; (3) streamline CableCARD installations; and (4) clarify certification requirements.

Client Advisory

In its National Broadband Plan, the Commission suggested modifications to the CableCARD system and improved functionality of video navigation devices to improve broadband efficiency.  The Commission‘s NOI and NPRM represent the first step in implementation of this recommendation.

Clients should monitor these proceedings and are advised to review the NOI and NPRM as well as additional related documents linked below. Clients interested in filing comments or with questions about the NPRM or this Advisory should contact Jonathan S. Marashlian at jsm@commlawgroup.com or (703) 714-1313.

News Release: Word | Acrobat
NOI: Word | Acrobat
FNPRM: Word | Acrobat
Genachowski Statement: Word | Acrobat
Copps Statement: Word | Acrobat
McDowell Statement: Word | Acrobat
Clyburn Statement: Word | Acrobat
Baker Statement: Word | Acrobat

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