Cable Companies Thwart DVRs, CableCARD

In two related news stories, cable companies are clamping down further on network control by skirting around the requirements to support CableCARD and force DVR owners to watch ads. In testimony before congress, TiVo has alleged that cable companies are starting to use protocols and signaling that's incompatible with the uni-directional CableCARD standard. CableCARDs are designed to allow you to plug a digital cable signal directly into the device of your choice without a special box from the cable company, just like the old analog cable used to do. Bypassing support for "bring your own device" standards ensures that the cable company can keep you renting their equipment indefinitely, imposing significant trouble with using third-party devices such as DVRs and TV tuner cards for PCs.

Related to this is Cox Communication's recent announcement that they would no longer let customers renting their DVR to skip commercials for some content from ABC and ESPN, both Disney companies. I guess they missed the part where most people buy a DVR just for that purpose, eh? They probably also forgot to read the numerous reports that fast-forwarded ads are recognized just as much as ads played at normal speed. Boo on them for trying to force more ads down our throats.

Once networks like UTOPIA start breaking up the monopolies, maybe these companies will start to comply with interoperability requirements. 

(See full articles here, here and here.) 

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