Flexing its muscles, the FCC has slapped a fine on Time Warner Cable and Cox communications for introducing switched digital video signals into cable systems still utilizing CableCards.
This is a direct violation of federal rules that requires cable companies to have all of their programming available to third-party equipment that uses CableCards. What devices would that be? Things like your TiVo DVR, for example.
How hard did they get slapped?
Not much, in the grand scheme of things. Time Warner was fined $40,000 and Cox was only $20,000. The Time Warner fines were for two regions in Hawaii, while the Cox fine covered Fairfax, VA.
Both companies disagree with the notices, as both feel justified in using switched digital.
Switched digital video systems only transmit a channel when a customer in a service group requests it. This saves bandwidth, as only requested channels are sent down the pipe (helps make room for many more channels, and/or HDTV offerings). However, it requires a two-way device to make that request.
There are plans to make an adapter that would allow devices access to switched digital programming. But until then, expect more situations and more fines from the FCC. —Leslie Shapiro
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