While rumors over a true Apple TV have swirled for literally years, they've kicked into high gear ever since Walter Issacson quoted Steve Jobs in his biography as saying he'd "finally cracked" the difficulties behind entering the market. It's widely assumed that in order to successfully launch a television, Apple would need a set of game-changing content deals in order to make it a compelling enough product to convince consumers to upgrade — especially given the longer upgrade cycles typical in the TV market.
We've seen plenty of rumors that Apple was working on negotiating such deals, and now USA Today has added to the pile. Citing one anonymous Apple employee and two television industry sources, the paper reports that Apple has had "problems" securing the deals and suggested that the goal is to offer à la carte shows from first-tier networks.
Apple has had more success in securing content deals than most other companies, having famously wrangled the music industry into accepting the iTunes business model and allowing it to go DRM-free. Television deals, on the other hand, have been a perennial issue — with the company having to go so far as to pull TV rentals from iTunes and Apple TV last summer.
We've also heard rumors about the technology that would go into an iTV, but on that topic USA Today only hinted that "Inside the locked-down studio of Jonathan Ive, [...] there's a slick 50-inch TV, according to the source who worked at Apple." Sadly, we will have to leave the question of whether that's specifically meant to imply it's an Apple-made TV or not as an exercise for the reader.