According to Dow Jones, the FCC has shot down Comcast's request to be exempt from new rules intended to open up the playing field for cable boxes, leaving an appeal the company's only hope of keeping its customers tied to its own set-top boxes. Under the new rules, which are set to go into effect July 1st, cable companies will not be allowed to use integrated security features that tie their cable boxes directly to their own service. Instead, customers would be able to simply get a cable card from their cable company and pop it into their set-top box of choice -- the idea being, from the FCC's perspective, to open up a new marketplace for cable boxes, ultimately reducing the cost for consumers. Not surprisingly, Comcast sees things a little differently, calling the FCC decision "regrettable" and adding that "it amounts to an FCC tax of hundreds of millions of dollars on consumers with no countervailing benefits." The FCC has apparently given some smaller cable companies a bit of leeway with the deadline, however, saying they won't enforce action against companies that have already placed orders for new cable boxes but aren't expected to get them by July 1st.