Companies Agree on Digital TV Transition
Dec 20, 2002
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Consumers will be able to buy digital TVs (DTVs) that connect to
digital cable without a set-top box, and enjoy easy access to high-definition television (HDTV) services offered by cable operators, as a result of an agreement entered into by major consumer electronics companies and cable multiple system operators (MSOs).

The agreement, which sets the stage for a national "plug-and-play" standard between digital television products and digital cable systems, will help speed the transition from analog to digital television and establish much-needed marketplace, technical, and regulatory certainty for the cable and consumer electronics (CE) industries.

The terms of the agreement are embodied in a Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) agreed to by 14 consumer electronics companies, representing the majority of HDTV sales in the U.S., and seven major cable operators, representing more than 75 percent of all cable subscribers.

The MSO - CE Manufacturer Agreement consists of a package including:

  • voluntary commitments by the signatories
  • proposals for rules to be adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that, once adopted, would resolve other issues.

    Specifically, the joint recommendations include a set of technical standards for cable systems and "cable-ready" DTV products (and testing procedures to assure compatibility); a proposed regulatory framework for support of digital TV receivers, digital recorders with secure interfaces and other devices on cable systems; a draft security technology license to ensure that high-value content can be transferred securely in the home network by consumers; and "encoding rules" to resolve pending copyright-based concerns about home recording and
    viewing.

    In addition to proposing regulations to assure consumer access to
    plug-and-play digital TV over cable, the parties agreed to begin
    working together immediately on standards for future interactive digital cable TV products.

    Negotiations were conducted directly among company representatives and facilitated by their respective trade associations, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA).

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