TiVo Pleads for Cable Parity

TiVo is pleading with Congress to make its DVRs, and retail set-top devices in general, as powerful as those leased by cable operators to their subscribers.

The testimony of TiVo's Matthew Zinn came in response to the Federal Communications Commission's solicitation of comments on new rules for the ill-fated CableCARD and ideas for its successor.

Said the man from TiVo: "Rather than providing cable subscribers with a wonderful product that could navigate the universe for broadband and paid video content and provide consumer choice, retail CableCARD products have been stymied in terms of access to programming, pricing, installation and support. Until retail products are supported by cable operators and placed on an equal footing with leased boxes with respect to access to the popular programming cable subscribers expect to receive from their set-top box, a robust market for competitive retail navigation devices will not materialize."

Despite an FCC-brokered agreement among the cable operators and TV makers, the existing CableCARD was only spottily supported by cable operators, and seeing this, TV makers lost interest too. A key complaint of the cable ops was that the card standard was unidirectional and therefore did not support lucrative VOD and other two-way services. A bidirectional card arrived and even got built into a few TVs but ultimately fizzled as well. Now the FCC is talking about a successor it calls AllVid, which would mediate between cable systems and all consumer devices.

The TiVo press release was not available online at presstime. See story on the FCC initiative.