Friday, April 12, 2013

Digital-Era Video Devices Shouldn't Subject to Analog-Era Regulations

The FCC is now taking public comments on a petition from TiVo seeking a waiver from regulations regarding video set-top box devices. At issue are regulations requiring analog tuners or consumer information about analog tuners. As the FCC's notice states: "TiVo claims that these requirements as applied to its set-top boxes hinder innovation, increase costs to customers and serve as an unnecessary barrier to the market for all-digital video recording devices."
TiVo's claims are difficult to dispute in this digital era. Analog is increasingly outdated. The DTV transition for full-power TV broadcast stations was completed on June 12, 2009. And cable video service providers are increasingly transitioning to all-digital services, including the use of capacity-conserving switched digital video technologies.

If past waiver proceedings are any indication, however, proponents of expansive new regulatory controls over the designs of video devices make some kind of appearance in public comments.  This is something I discussed in my Perspectives from FSF Scholars paper, "AllVid Regulation Risks Harm to Next-Generation Video Innovation." In that paper, I summarized the case against comprehensive new regulations of video devices that were being called for through comments made in earlier cable set-top box regulation waiver proceedings.

Hopefully, the FCC addresses TiVo's waiver in an expeditious manner.