Set-top initiative launches

NCTA says move will further market for digital cable

WASHINGTON — The cable biz on Wednesday launched a campaign to promote the sale of digital set-top boxes in retail shops, giving customers an alternative to leasing boxes from their local cabler.

“Providing cable customers with greater choice enhances our competitive position,” National Cable and Telecommunications Assn. prexy-CEO Robert Sachs said.

NCTA, along with some top consumer electronics manufacturers, say the initiative will further the market for digital cable, as well as letting retailers get into the game.

“With this action, the consumer wins, the operator wins and the retailers win as operators increase penetration and subscriptions of new, advanced services while offering consumers more options for interactive broadband experience,” Motorola exec veep Dave Robinson said.

Earlier this year, the cable industry endorsed security technology to be included in digital set-top boxes that would allow content providers to specify how many times a particular program could be copied, among other things.

NCTA’s new campaign to further the sale of set-top boxes on retail shelves includes:

  • Cable operators will support retail boxes in their systems;

  • Set-top makers may offer warranties and retailers may offer extended maintenance contracts;

  • Buyers may trade in the set-top box if they move to another region where the box is not compatible;

  • Manufacturers will be “encouraged” to make the same box used by cable operators available to retailers.
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