AfterDawn: Tech news

FCC approves the "broadcast flag"

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 05 Nov 2003 2:28 User comments (12)

Federal Communications Commission approved, as expected, the decision to introduce so-called "broadcast flag" to American digital TV broadcasts. The flag can be used to restrict recording and further distribution of recorded digital TV shows.
American TV companies and content owners have been reluctant to move to digital TV for various reasons -- one of the biggest reasons has been the fear of piracy that perfect-quality TV recordings would possibly spark. This is somewhat different route than that introduced in countries like Germany; city of Berlin switched off the analog TV signals totally in beginning of August this year and further German cities are expected to follow soon.

All American digital TV equipment have to comply with the broadcast flag rules by 1st of July, 2005. With the flag, content providers can decide what programs they wish to "protect" from recording and further distribution -- when the DTV equipment identifies a broadcast flag, it refuses to either play or record it, depending on the source and the flag type.

Source: EE Times

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12 user comments

15.11.2003 15:13

Xbox mod chip will now evolve into DTV mod chip.


26.11.2003 07:15

That idea regarding the mod chip will run into a little thing called the DCMA... It just seems to me that the content providers are looking for a way to stop the recording of any programs off air. I say, there goes the fair use provision... Its all about control isn't it?


Intel 440BX MB, Dual Intel 1.2Ghz P3's, 2GB RAM
TDK 440N, 390GB ATI AIW 8500DV Win2k Srvr

36.11.2003 07:32

So, the broadcast TV networks are using a BIG chunk of bandwidth of the PUBLIC airwaves to deliver advertising saturated "content" to my livingroom. Now, with the blessing of the fed they get to dictate what I can record? Remember, these are for-profit media companies that do not pay for the bandwidth they are allotted unlike most other industries that use public bandwidth. War on piracy, War on drugs, War on terror, War on Fair Use, War on Privacy, War on Free Speech... I'd say it's a War on People.

We mustn't lower ourselves to the level of those we loathe, lest we become loathsome ourselves.

46.11.2003 07:34

Say you were to get a TV tuner card now for the computer, could you use that to record these programs on the computer, then put on DVD? Or are they have to make new TV tuner cards?

56.11.2003 07:50

You could buy a new HDTV tuner card for the PC and just use the older drivers, eh?? I would think that they may implement the protection in the drivers like ATI does with the Macrovision detection. I think the big corporate A**holes are just looking for ways to get more money out of the consumer. But they fail to realize that we only have so much $$ so they will lose.


Intel 440BX MB, Dual Intel 1.2Ghz P3's, 2GB RAM
TDK 440N, 390GB ATI AIW 8500DV Win2k Srvr

66.11.2003 09:45

Sure they might implement them into the drivers, but there will be people who "change" the driver so that everybody may still record their shows or movies on TV. However how many people can actually do that. I mean VCR's still are a challenge for people, if they had to do that on a computer, they would be completely lost, and probably break something. How are VCR and DVD recording companies going to take this? They should sue the FCC or whoever helped make this decision. The brodacast companies are going to "flag" every single show and movie and probably every commerical in between. I live hear in the states and there are times that our laws or "rules" truly suck. This rule is one of those.

76.11.2003 12:15

Keep in mind the broadcast flag is only going to be imbedded into digital HDTV broadcasts, so current VCRs, DVD recorders, and PVRs will not be much good. You MAY be able to record HDTV at regular old NTSC rez. Maybe. The good thing is, the broadcast flag is weak crap so there will be HDTV PVRs with hackz to disable the flag (unless of course they are able to jam "trusted" computers down our throats as well). To me the real question is, why does the public have to resort to breaking the law to exercise what is our right under Fair Use doctrine? Oh, I forgot, fair use went bye bye cortesey of the DMCA...

We mustn't lower ourselves to the level of those we loathe, lest we become loathsome ourselves.

86.11.2003 12:24

We will just have to do to the new age recording devices that will be used to HDTV what we do to the PS2 and Xbox. Mod them.

96.11.2003 12:32

I wonder if this technology will also make it so that when a commercial comes on the tv we won't be able to change the channel. I can see that happening. Also, my understanding is that the broadcast flag will not allow any digital device that does not recognize the broadcast flag which means that you have to buy new tvs, dvd players, etc. This doesn't stop people from recording using analog but according to the they want to get something put in place that would stop that also. It was only like a month ago that the FCC loosened restrictions on media ownership stating that media companies could own up to 45% of the marketplace. People had a huge fit and wrote their representatives in congress and that was later changed because of the public outcry. Do you think that the congress people would do the same if enough people had spoke up? Probably doesn't matter because most americans don't know about this or what it truly means. It seems to me that we would rather just trust that things will be ok even though every day more and more of our rights are taken away.

1010.11.2003 15:00

I dunnno what everyone's so upset about. Whatever copy protection schemes big corporations have come out with in the past have ALWAYS been been cracked. It's a law of the universe I think...

1111.11.2003 05:15

IMO, the broadcast flag is a tool to sell more crap to the consumer, albeit new hardware or programming (is this starting to wreak of the MATRIX??) Anyway, the earlier PC based HDTV tuners should funtion after the implementation of the "Flag" but they will not want to tell the average consumer this since this would circumvent the protection (A Violation of the DCMA). I for one am going to ensure I have a pre-Flag tuner for my HTPC so I can still record what I want when I want. It is true as birdie states, most people don't have the knowledge to adjust a driver, but if they were in the know about pre-FLAG devices I'm sure they would all buy one. From what the FCC is stating the analog broadcasts are slated to be discontinued in (I think) the end of 2005. I do know that the networks are crying that they can't meet this deadline and are looking for an extension from the FCC. I personally think this will force people to either buy new TV's and such or at least new decoders so they still get OTA programming. One last item though, aren't most households using cable TV? then the broadcast flag will be a moot point until the cable companies start using the flag and start changing out their boxes to provide HDTV content. I wouldn't think that the corporate biggies would mind you recording their commercials, just not the actual content/programs.


Intel 440BX MB, Dual Intel 1.2Ghz P3's, 2GB RAM
TDK 440N, 390GB ATI AIW 8500DV Win2k Srvr

1211.11.2003 06:41

I has to do with advertising. PVRs enable people to skip commercials...which means less money for the broadcast company.

Comp 1: Dell Inspiron P4 2.4Ghz / 512 MB RAM with 24x CD-RW and Firewire In, SVideo Out running XP Pro
Comp 2: Dell Dimension P3 550Mhz / 384MB RAM with old 2x CD-RW running XP Home.

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