Inc., a New York startup that makes software for showing Internet video on televisions, is heading to Washington to challenge some of the biggest names in the media industry.
The company is fighting a proposed Federal Communications Commission rule backed by Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) (CMCSA), News Corp. and Walt Disney Co. that would let cable operators encrypt the TV transmissions that are delivered to U.S. homes. That means anyone trying to watch cable TV on a Boxee device would only see static, even if they were paying for a cable subscription.
Boxee, which has previously feuded with Hollywood-backed Hulu
LLC, wants to be able to replace traditional cable boxes with its own software and hardware, rather than equipment endorsed by Comcast and other cable providers. At stake is whether media companies can restrict their customers from a wider range of options -- a battle that the technology industry needs to fight in Washington, Boxee says.
“Definitely startups, but tech in general, don’t focus on D.C. as much,” said Avner Ronen, chief executive officer of Boxee, which has 45 employees. “We’re not speaking D.C.-speak or FCC-speak, for good or for worse.”
Ronen has an uphill battle ahead. In the October proposal, which was put forth before Boxee voiced its opposition, the FCC wrote that the change “will not substantially affect compatibility between cable service and consumer electronics equipment for most subscribers.” That’s not true, Ronen said, and he’s working to convince the FCC of that. Neil Grace, a spokesman for the agency, said the FCC hasn’t reached a decision on whether to pass the rule.