|Federal Communications Commission
1919 - M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
|News media information 202 / 418-0500
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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).
COMMISSION ADOPTS "NAVIGATION DEVICES" RULES CREATING CONSUMER
MARKET FOR SET TOP BOXES AND OTHER EQUIPMENT
USED WITH VIDEO PROGRAMMING SYSTEMS
The Commission has adopted rules providing for the commercial availability of set top
boxes and other consumer equipment used to receive video signals and other services. In the
Telecommunications Act of 1996, Congress directed the Commission to create rules that would
allow consumers to obtain "navigation devices" -- meaning the set top boxes, remote control
units and other equipment -- from commercial sources other than the service provider. This
order will benefit consumers and further the Commission's goal of providing competition in
the telecommunications marketplace by creating a major market for consumers to own
equipment used to access video programming and other services in their homes. |
Multichannel video programming distributors must separate out security functions from non-security functions by July 1, 2000. An exception is made for navigation devices that operate throughout the continental United States and are commercially available from unaffiliated sources, which includes direct broadcast satellite ("DBS") providers. The selection of this date is premised on the representations of the various interests involved that they will agree on relevant specifications, interfaces, and standards in a timely fashion, thus permitting the manufacture and sale of navigation devices by unaffiliated sources. For the time being, multichannel video programming distributors may continue to offer devices that have security and non-security functions integrated. The Commission believes that 2005 provides a sufficient period of time for a reasonable transition and therefore it is establishing a prohibition on the sale or lease of new integrated boxes as of January 1, 2005. In the year 2000, once separate security modules are available, the Commission will assess the state of the market to determine whether that timeframe is appropriate.
Section 629 of the Communications Act, as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 instructs the Commission to "adopt regulations to assure the commercial availability, to consumers . . . of . . . equipment used . . . to access multichannel video programming and other services offered over multichannel video programming systems, from manufacturers, retailers, and other vendors not affiliated with any multichannel video programming distributor." Additionally, Section 629 states that Commission rules "shall not prescribe regulations . . . which would jeopardize security of . . . services offered over multichannel video programming systems, or impede the legal rights of a provider of such services to prevent theft of service."
Summary of key elements of the order:
Action by the Commission June 11, 1998, by Report and Order (FCC 98-116). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth and Tristani with Commissioner Powell dissenting and Commissioners Ness and Powell issuing statements.
News Media contact: Morgan Broman at (202) 418-2358.