Comcast outdoing FCC plans

Comcast and other major payTV operators are facing the FCC on the issue of the choice of the device to access TV services. Comcast and others deliver their TV services exclusively to settop boxes and in order to create some freedom of choice for users have suggested to provide app’s on other devices for accessing their services. That is exactly what Comcast is doing now for Roku devices and Samsung TVs.

The FCC is not impressed pointing out that the user interface of the app still offers no choice and searching for content is only possible in the payTV provider’s app.

The fight will continue for some time. It is also somewhat remarkable that Comcast launches this initiative now whereas Roku and Samsung surely would have been glad to cooperate a few years back.

Source: Comcast Tries to Do an End Run Around the FCC on Set-Top Box Changes

Belgian regulators finalise Open Cable rules

In smaller countries competition is not always easy to organize, but in Belgium the regulator is showing some courage and is making an attempt, by opening up the cable network services to alternate operators (for fixed tariffs). This piece of regulatuion is heavily fought and quite unique: an earlier attempt in the Netherlands where cable is almost as dominant in TV distribution led to a defeat of the regulator on procedural grounds. They did not reattempt the procedure on the grounds that competition had increased in the mean time (IPTV and fibre are gaining ground, traditional cable keeps on loosing ground in the Netherlands). Belgium has only two competing platforms: cable (the regional operator) and Belgacoom (IPTV). Now thirds can enter the market. Since it is a deal on service level technical conditions will be equal to the existing cable environment.

Recently Telenet also lauched Common Interface Plus under some encouragement of public opinion and regulators. But this only makes Telenet services available on receivers other than Telenet’s own proprietary ones; it does not enable other operators.

Belgian regulators finalise Open Cable rules.

EU clearance expected on Virgin-Liberty deal

This is the most serious M&A of 2013; though there is still most to go. It will be interesting to see if the two “heavy box” architectures (horizon and tivo) will be merged in some form or way.

John Malone’s reputation for buying and selling is legendary; he is the Rupert Murdoch of cable. Raising the stakes in Telenet (and ousting its CEO) was another big feat this year; most people will look back at that one with mixed feelings. Some ex UPC bondholders in the Netherlands from back in the internet bubble days may remember how UPC went bankrupt yet still emerged being owned by Malone; masterly.

EU clearance expected on Virgin-Liberty deal.