It’s not often that cable operators have disliked an initiative as much as they have CableCARD. Fortunately, several years after the FCC banned cable companies from including integrated security in consumer set-top boxes, the unbelievably long reign of CableCARD is likely coming to an end, pending Senate approval in September.
Late Tuesday, the House passed the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Reauthorization Act of 2014, which aims to give satellite operators the power to import distant network signals when local affiliate stations aren't available and, some would argue most importantly, eliminates the requirement that cable operators separate security from set-tops in the form of a CableCARD.
Without facing the limitations brought on by CableCARD, cable operators will be able to drastically cut down on hardware costs and more fully support downloadable conditional access techniques. The Satellite Television Extension and Localism Reauthorization Act of 2014 will also level the playful field between cable operators and satellite and telecom TV providers by removing burdens that only apply to operators.
It’s no secret how many within the cable industry feel about CableCARD and the House’s recent vote demonstrates its recognition that it is time for change. Though the House’s vote is a step in the right direction, the battle to end CableCARD isn’t quite over. The bill still needs Senate consideration and approval to become law and allow CableCARD to finally be put to pasture.