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Cablevision to Test PC-to-TV Service

Software Enables Subs to View Computer Content on TV 3/18/2010 02:36:00 PM Eastern

Cablevision Systems this summer will test a “multiscreen” service that would let customers broadcast content from their computers — including Web video, such as TV shows from Hulu and YouTube clips — to their TV sets.

The operator’s PCto-
TV Media Relay service
will use a software
application running on
a PC that sends screen
images and audio up
the cable-modem connection
to the headend.
Th e PC’s audio and video
are then delivered to a customer’s set-top box
in real time, viewable only by that customer.

“With our PC-to-TV Media Relay service,
we are putting an end to the need for families
to huddle around their laptops or PCs to
watch content together,” Cablevision chief operating
officer Tom Rutledge said in a statement.
“This new service will make it easy for
our television customers to take broadband
services, including Internet video, as well as
family photos or anything else displayed on
a computer screen and move it to the television
with the click of the mouse.”

Cablevision plans to begin a technical trial
of the PC-to-TV Media
Relay by June. The
company wouldn’t
say when — or if —
the service might become
available to all
subscribers, or whether
it would charge extra
for it. Nor would
the MSO reveal how
large the trial will
be, how long it would
last or its technology
partners. Subscribers
would need to
take both cable TV
and Optimum Online
broadband services.

Some content owners may object to the PC-to-TV Media Relay service's ability to let subscribers access any nternet-based content on TV.

For example, Hulu — a joint venture of
NBC Universal, News Corp. and The Walt
Disney Co. — has tried to block startup Boxee’s
Internet software from displaying Hulu
content on TVs, and Hulu’s terms of service
specify that users may not “stream or retransmit
the content via any hardware or
software application.” Cablevision’s position
is expected to be that the PC-to-TV Media
Relay service simply shifts content that’s accessible on a PC to the TV screen and would
be covered under fair-use provisions of the
copyright code.

The Bethpage, N.Y.-based operator has not
been shy about butting heads with content
owners.

Most notably, Cablevision's proposed network-
based digital video recorder system,
the RS-DVR, was challenged in court by
movie studios, programmers and other content
owners as infringing their copyrights. In
July 2009 Cablevision prevailed in that case,
which reached the U.S. Supreme Court.
Cablevision lawyers argued that the RSDVR
would simply let customers engage in
"lawful" copying for personal use, which is
the same thing conventional DVRs allow.

 Th e MSO has not yet introduced an RSDVR
service, but plans to roll out a full network
DVR by year-end (see page 3).

The PC-to-TV Media Relay service would
eliminate the need to install an additional settop
or run additional wiring to deliver broadband
content to the TV. Other “over-the-top”
services such as Vudu, TiVo, Boxee, Roku and
Apple TV typically require an additional device
to connect to the TV as well as a network connection.

Other providers, such as Verizon’s FiOS TV
and AT&T’s U-verse TV, provide access to
some Internet-based content and PC media
on TV. But Cablevision’s service would provide
full access to any Web site or service, although
it wouldn’t let users control the PC
using the set-top remote.

Cablevision’s PC-to-TV test also may be
intended as a regulatory maneuver. The Federal
Communications Commission last fall
opened an inquiry into how set-top boxes
could be enhanced to allow access to Internet
video and encourage broadband adoption.

Cablevision said the PC-to-TV Media Relay
would let subscribers access content and applications
on their computers, including: personal
media such as photos, home videos and
music; Internet content, including streaming
video sites and audio such as Internet radio;
certain productivity applications, including email,
documents and spreadsheets; and other
applications, such as widgets.

Initially the trial service will be Windowsonly,
but Cablevision said a Mac version also
is in development. The company said the technology
that enables TV-to-PC Media Relay may
also be extended to other consumer devices in
the home, including handheld devices connected
to in-home wireless networks.

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