Mastering the Digital Media Control Center
Then there's the copyright cabal, which wants to make sure that media centers don't become piracy tools. Movie and music companies are prodding policy-makers to force copy-protection restraints into these devices.
Indeed, the conspiracy theorists among us might even say that the cable ventures into home media centers offer a convenient way of skirting the recent, loudly touted "cable compatibility" deal with consumer electronics companies. Although the cable operators agreed to allow HDTV and other digital functionality directly into TV receivers, the media centers could circumvent such autonomy. Carrier-controlled access devices would merely become the next generation set-top box.
And the challenges grow. If successful, SBC Communications' bid to acquire DirecTV would put that giant regional phone company into the midst of a similar set-top control role nationwide. SBC, like its adolescent Bell cousins, has aspirations toward the "digital triple play" (voice and broadband data, as well as video services and audio); so its role in control of home media centers is surely part of the agenda.