First of all cable cards are not media and not programming but a security device to control access to the programming, that the customer subscribes to. On the other hand in order to give the cable companies an incentive to provide a transparent security system the FCC should require cable companies to provide Cable cards to consumers at no charge. True2Way technology should be adopted ASAP. I remember when the FCC was about to take action against selected cable companies for intentionally delaying the availability of cable cards.
Right now I am paying $549.60 a year for two HD DVR's and $420.60 a year for all Premium Movie Channels. I think the annual fee for two HD DVR's is gouging. In 1999 I purchased an 80GB Panasonic DVR with DVD Recorder for about $250.00.
I would strongly recommend reading SEC. 17. CONSUMER ELECTRONICS EQUIPMENT COMPATIBILITY of the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992.
See Wikipedia article at this link:
Section 17 of the act clearly states that cable companies should make their systems compatible with consumer TV Receivers and Video Recorders. Cable ready televisions and vcr's should be able to operate without external boxes. The current system of charging for Digital Outlets, Digital Subscriber Terminals and or Cable Cards is an end run around the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992 in order to gouge customers by charging them for every digital outlet. Furthermore many cable companies are moving desirable basic programming from analog channels to the first Digital Tier thereby forcing customers to pay for Digital Subscriber Terminals in order to view that programming.
After the act was passed in 1992 most cable systems eliminated scrambling on Basic and Extended Basic Tiers of service making those services available on Cable Ready Televisions and VCR's without additional equipment.
I have a modest proposal: Lawmakers should pass the Cable Anti-Gouging Act of 2010. It would require all cable companies to provide customers, Digital Subscriber Terminals for a single pay right to use fee of no more than 80% of the wholesale price of the equipment. The cable companies would retain ownership of the equipment and be required to maintain the equipment at no cost to the customer. If the customer discontinued service the customer would be required to return the equipment to the cable company. In order to give the customer an incentive to keep the equipment in good condition the customer would receive 20% of the value of the equipment if returned in good condition less normal wear and tear. Once the cable companies loose the incentive to gouge customers for terminal equipment they will go back to receiving their profits from programming and not equipment rental.
I have not contradicted myself Digital Subscriber Terminals and Cable Cards are not media and do not contain programming they just provide access to programming.
Edit: I thought about this post. To avoid discrimination against the cable Television industry lawmakers should make the rules apply to the DBS Industry as well. The DBS carrier could provide a master receiver/translator that would translate the signal to a format that could be received by any compatible Cable/DBS TV Receiver and/or DVR with a QAM Tuner. Actually the last time I looked Dish Network had very reasonable or no fees for additional Satellite Receivers depending the model selected.