New FCC Regulations Give Consumers Easier Access to CableCARDS
The wait is finally over. As a follow up to my blog post this past fall we are happy to let you know that CableCARDs should now be easier than ever to obtain and install in your TiVo Premiere, TiVo Series3 or TiVo HD DVR. On August 8th, 2011 the new rules and regulations on CableCARDS that the FCC adopted last fall went into effect, with the goal being to improve the experience for consumers using their own set-top box equipment to receive cable services. What this means for you…
Cable operators are now required to:
- Price CableCARD rental fees uniformly and disclose fees prominently both on their websites and rate cards;
- Provide discounts on the price of programming packages that include set-top box rentals by the cost of the set-top box rental for customers who “bring their own” retail set-top box;
- Not impose fees on customers using consumer owned set-top boxes that they do not assess on customers using operator-leased set-top boxes;
- Permit self-installation of CableCARDs (although some providers have until November 1, 2011 to comply with this requirement);
- Provide accurate information about CableCARDs and CableCARD compatible devices;
- Provide multi-stream CableCARDS by default (unless the customer specifically requests a single stream card;
- In any professional installation, arrive with the correct number of functioning CableCARDs;
- Ensure that customers can use their retail devices to access to of the all linear channels that comprise the cable package to which they subscribe (including switched digital channels); and
- Provide accurate information about CableCARDs, CableCARD compatible devices and, in any professional installation, arrive with the correct number of functioning CableCARDs – stuff you would think is so basic that it shouldn’t have to be spelled out in regulation.
Anecdotally, we have already noticed that Comcast has begun providing Customer Owned Equipment credits of $2.50 per retail device in the San Francisco Bay Area. We have also seen Verizon introduce online activation of CableCARDs so you don’t even have to talk to a cable representative. We hope to share additional signs of progress soon. In the meantime, for additional information regarding CableCARDs and consumers’ rights visit www.fcc.gov/guides/cablecard-know-your-rights or www.fcc.gov/guides/digital-cable-compatibility-cablecards-plug-and-play.
If you have questions as to whether your cable operator is complying with the CableCARD rules, you can email the FCC at CableCARDEnf@fcc.gov or call (202) 418-1160. To file a complaint, visit www.fcc.gov/complaints.
Matt Zinn is Senior Vice President of General Counsel for TiVo Inc.