Apple has been speaking with US cable operators about the possibility of allowing consumers to use an Apple device with set-top-box functionality to watch live television and access other content, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Rumours that Apple is trying to take over the living room by cracking the television market have been circulating for several years. WSJ suggests that the discussions with cable operators could be for an iteration of the current £99 Apple TV, which allows users to watch films purchased from iTunes, stream from the internet, play Netflix and more, or a “more sophisticated box”.

“Two people briefed on the matter said the technology involved could ultimately be embedded in a television,” WSJ reveals.  “Apple has worked on prototypes for televisions in the past, according to people briefed on the projects.”

The report cites “people familiar with the matter,” who have said that the talks haven’t resulted in a deal yet. WSJ thinks this could be because of “the reluctance of operators to let Apple establish a foothold in the television business.”

Operators are worried that Apple will take control of the television market, and have been put off by Apple’s demand for a 30 per cent cut. Another issue is that entertainment companies own most of the content, not the operators, two sources told WSJ.

Television distributors and media companies are more likely to let Apple into the television market if Apple convinces existing service providers to “marry” their service with Apple’s hardware, as it has with the iPhone, says WSJ.

WSJ also claims that Apple will face the challenge of convincing consumers to cough up the cash for the set-top-box that would cost hundreds of dollars, rather than rent one from providers such as Virgin or Sky.

WSJ does note, however, that an Apple spokesperson declined to comment on what he described as “rumours and speculation” about the Apple TV.

Steve Jobs’ interest in the television market was revealed in Walter Isaacson’s authorised biography of the late Apple co-founder, who “very much wanted to do for television what he had done for computers, music players, and phones: make them simple and elegant,” wrote Isaacson.

“’I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,’ he [Jobs] told me. ‘It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud,’” reads Isaacson’s book. “’It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.’” Jobs told him.

Yesterday, we reported that Apple has been granted a major TV patent that reveals the company’s plans to bring cable TV and the ability to record shows to its customers.

Click here to find out everything we’ve heard about Apple’s smart television set