Boxee only recently unveiled their live TV dongle
, and already it appears to have ruffled the feathers of a cable and broadcast TV industry that doesn't much care for video evolution. Like many other devices, Boxee's live TV dongle simply gives users access to the unencrypted basic cable content using the coaxial that runs into your home. It's perfectly legal, as regulations currently prohibit cable operators from encrypting these channels, most of which are also accessible over the air via antenna.
In a new blog post
, Boxee's Avner Ronen warns the cable industry is petitioning the FCC to give them the right to begin encrypting these channels. Like most companies in telecom, the cable industry laments government intervention in "free markets" -- until the markets actually start looking somewhat free, at which point they want the government to pass new rules protecting incumbency from new technologies or competitive threats. Says Boxee:
The cable companies are losing subscribers every quarter. If they want to reverse that trend they should look into building better products, reducing prices and improving customer service, not going to the government asking for rule changes to force consumers into spending more money and blocking start-ups from competing...There is another interesting thing about the proposed rule-making. There are no benefits for consumers. None. Millions of users who currently connect cable directly to their TV or tuner (without a set top box) will see their screens go dark.
Groups like Public Knowledge have already jumped into the fray, offering users an easy form allowing them to contact their representatives
. In a filing to the FCC
, the cable industry swears that encryption of these channels will bring "substantial consumer benefits for tens of millions of cable customers" like fewer truck rolls to start or stop service. You just have to ignore the fact an entire segment of disruptive technologies get muzzled in the process.