It’s about frigging time

Jeezus H. Cable, what took them so long? The Wall Street Journal reports that TVs may soon be able to get TV without those damned cable boxes that do so little for so much with such bother:

Sony Corp. and six of the biggest U.S. cable operators announced an agreement to create digital televisions capable of receiving cable service without a set-top box.

Sony signed a pact with Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable Inc., Cox Communications, Charter Communications Inc., Cablevision Systems Corp. and Bright House Networks to develop technology that will allow consumers to eliminate set-top boxes, yet still receive basic as well as advanced cable services, such as pay-per-view movies.

The new technological standard should enable a new generation of TVs to include video-on-demand, digital video recording, interactive programming guides, and other services, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association said Tuesday. By eliminating the set-top box, cable companies can simplify installation and reduce costs, while consumers can worry about one less component in their home theater systems. . . .

Sony and the cable operators will adopt a Java-based application called tru2way as the nationwide interactive standard, which will allow for the manufacture of new “plug-and-play” interactive devices that can be used with TV sets.

The technology could also make it easier for consumers to receive the full range of cable-based services on other devices, such as laptops, MP3 players, and cellphones.

It’s not as if this took a single technological breakthrough. It simply took cable companies realizing that they make it too fucking difficult to get the service they offer and it’s getting far easier for us to watch TV via the internet (witness the incredible popularity of the BBC iPlayer in the UK). The cable box should have been dead at least a decade ago. The only thing that kept it alive was cable companies’ business model built around control and restriction. But you can no longer make a business on telling us what we can’t do.