There’s a complicated debate going on between Boxee and other TV tuner businesses and the cable companies over how available the FCC should make basic cable.As it stands, cable subscribers don’t need a cable box for basic cable — they can get it straight through the wall. That means if they subscribe to cable, they don’t need to pay for a set-top box to access the basic channels like ABC, NBC, and Fox.
Cable companies want to change this, because if they rent out boxes to for every TV, they’ll make more money. The average number of TVs per home now is three, according to Nielsen, and according to Time Warner statistics cited by Boxee, most homes only have one set-top box.
If the FCC allows what would essentially be encrypting basic cable, Boxee and other TV tuners will no longer be able to tap it through the wall — though they’ll still be able to get certain broadcast stations over the air in areas with good reception.
So, this would mean reduced consumer options and competition. Boxee says cable companies are hemorrhaging subscribers, and it’s cable’s attempt to fight back.
Now, the FCC will have to rule on the whole thing, and Boxee’s worried that cable’s $50 million in lobbying could make it a foregone conclusion.
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