Thursday, August 25, 2005

Cable 'Lockbox' and Set-top Boxes

Cable subscribers may request a "lockbox" from cable operators to prevent viewing of any channel on which objectionable programming may appear. Cable operators are required to make lockboxes available for sale or lease to customers who request them. Lockboxes can also be purchased from other commercial distributors.The Communications Act includes a provision that is designed to increase control over the programming coming into a subscriber's home. Section 640 requires a cable operator to fully scramble or block the audio and video portions of programming services not specifically subscribed to by a household. The cable operator must fully scramble or block the programming in question upon the request of the subscriber and at no charge to the subscriber.Some cable analog and advanced analog set-top boxes have the ability to block channels of programming. To block the channel, the viewer enters the correct Personal Identification Number ("PIN") code using the set-top's remote control or keypad.Digital set-top boxes provided by cable operators have parental control capabilities that allow customers to block programming based on several criteria. While not all boxes have the same features, a digital box might allow viewers to block programming based on time and date, channel, program title, TV rating and/or motion picture rating.


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