By Mark Milian on April 04, 2012 Bloomberg News
The company is fighting a proposed Federal Communications Commission rule backed by Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) (CMCSA), News Corp. and Walt Disney Co. that would let cable operators encrypt the TV transmissions that are delivered to U.S. homes. That means anyone trying to watch cable TV on a Boxee device would only see static, even if they were paying for a cable subscription.
Boxee, which has previously feuded with Hollywood-backed Hulu LLC, wants to be able to replace traditional cable boxes with its own software and hardware, rather than equipment endorsed by Comcast and other cable providers. At stake is whether media companies can restrict their customers from a wider range of options — a battle that the technology industry needs to fight in Washington, Boxee says.
“Definitely startups, but tech in general, don’t focus on D.C. as much,” said Avner Ronen, chief executive officer of Boxee, which has 45 employees. “We’re not speaking D.C.-speak or FCC-speak, for good or for worse.”
Ronen has an uphill battle ahead. In the October proposal, which was put forth before Boxee voiced its opposition, the FCC wrote that the change “will not substantially affect compatibility between cable service and consumer electronics equipment for most subscribers.” That’s not true, Ronen said, and he’s working to convince the FCC of that. Neil Grace, a spokesman for the agency, said the FCC hasn’t reached a decision on whether to pass the rule.
I think it’s obvious that the real reason that big cable wants to encrypt their basic channels is that they want to rent more set top boxes. Now, I have a novel idea for Boxee live TV users: Use an antenna. In many areas the unencrypted cable channels are going to be fewer and lower quality than what you can receive over the air for free, so why not just cut the cable company out of the equation? Big cable, you may be shooting yourselves in the foot with this!!!
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