November 04, 2003
Broadcast Flag Approved by FCC

... according to Jonathan Salant/AP.

By July 1, 2005, digital TV receivers have to recognize the BF signal.

I'm confused. How will this order (pdf) keep over-the-air television viable? Won't this require everyone to have cable or satellite? Otherwise, record over the analog VCR, record to digital on your video camera, and voila? This will only stop consumers from regular uses they currently enjoy, but the pirates won't be stopped.

    The deadline would be in advance of the congressionally mandated goal of 2007 for all TV broadcasts to switch to a digital format, which uses computer language, from the current analog format, which uses radio signals sent as waves. After the switchover, consumers who don't subscribe to a cable or satellite service would need digital tuners, either inside a TV or in a set-top box.

Digital tuners go for around $200, HDTV for around $750.

    "We would like to be talking about how to best protect over-the-air content rather than rush 1,000 miles an hour to approve a solution that isn't going to work with technology we haven't seen for a problem we don't yet have," said Chris Murray, legislative counsel for Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports magazine.

I guess we did want a solution that doesn't work using an unseen technology for a problem we don't yet have, that will cost consumers a lot of money, to satisfy incumbent content owners who are insecure and have little vision. My mistake.

Update: Ernie Miller has more analysis on this, going through the commissioner's statements and the press releases, and the Salon article yesterday.

Update 110603: Ernie Miller has found what looks like a loophole in the BF FCC order, Ed Felten has this: The Broadcast Flag, and Threat Model Confusion and Seth Finkelstein has this: Broadcast Flag - desecration, (with this choice quote: "Do not remove this flag under penalty of law.")

Posted by Mary Hodder at November 04, 2003 03:21 PM
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