CableLabs Responds to CableCard Screwjob Allegation

The good folks at CableLabs replied to today's piece about CableCard customers getting screwed out of HD channels. To their credit, they did not ask for a correction, because we didn't print anything inaccurate (though they do claim the HD Guru may have). They just wanted us to consider some "clarifications," arguments that go far to highlight the tension (hatred bordering on violence?) that exists between Big Cable and the consumer-electronics companies. The short version: Cable content is always changing, two-way CableCard exists in theory if not at Best Buy, the dongle could work on anything with a USB port and upgradeable firmware, and, oh yeah, you'll probably be buying all-new gear before this thing blows over. Jump for a more spelled out—but still excerpted—version of CableLabs' rebuttal argument:

• "Content available on cable networks is changing all the time. New services are added, some are redesigned and others are removed."

• "SDV technology is designed to expand the range of services offered by cable operators, not reduce them."

• "Many CE companies chose to implement receivers that lack the necessary circuitry to provide a full two-way cable experience with the CableCard."

• "No product was ever originally designed to work with this new Tuning Adaptor including the existing Tivo UDPC products...Since consumer products don't use Microsoft Windows, they don't have plug-in drivers. Instead a new firmware update is needed to include the necessary driver controls to interact with this new external device. Makers of any existing UDCPs that already have a USB port (there are many) are just as able to provide new firmware as Tivo, if they chose to do so."

• "Consumers should look for products identified as tru2way to ensure they will be able to get all the new and advanced services their digital cable systems can deliver."

Last we checked, Panasonic was the only one with a tru2way TV pegged to an actual shipdate, and Comcast was the only cable company even talking about implementing it this year, but again, hopefully we'll hear a lot more about this come the NCTA's Cable Show on May 18-20. We certainly look forward to hearing good news from CableLabs (and we're sure they look forward to sharing some). [CableLabs; Original HD Guru Story]