Originally Posted by JHBrandt
Apparently I didn't make myself clear. I certainly wasn't arguing that encryption wouldn't provide essentially perfect security against cable theft. Nor do I believe that cable theft wasn't a serious problem for Comcast overall. Where we differ is that I believe there was no compelling reason to encrypt OTA
, if the goal was only
to stop cable thieves.
I note that your links rely on Comcast as their primary source. But that only reveals Comcast's public perception of these issues. I'm skeptical they're being fully honest with the press about all their motives, though.
I realize there are some who will steal cable even if all they can get is local OTA channels. For some, cable theft looks attractive compared to the hassle of putting up an antenna. Some have recalcitrant HOAs, a few live in poor OTA reception areas, and sometimes cable theft is just easier. I bet there are even some who steal cable just for the thrill of "getting away with it."
But regardless of how Comcast perceives the issue, I simply don't buy that theft of OTA channels alone
is a serious problem for them. Few thieves who would get only OTA via cable would become cable subscribers if they lost it, so as a business decision it made little sense to encrypt OTA if "OTA-via-cable" theft were truly the issue. But if you also consider the additional monthly charges from legitimate subscribers who lose the use of clear QAM tuners, and the additional valuable info about how many devices in subscribers' homes are tuning in Comcast's signals, it starts to make more sense. Unfortunately, those additional factors also apply to providers like Fios, for whom cable theft isn't an issue. So, while I'm pleased that Fios is not encrypting OTA (or other basic cable channels, since cable theft isn't an issue), I simply can't be as confident as you that they will never do so.
I think you are forgetting one big thing. I have to pay a monthly fee to each of the local broadcasters because they all waived must carry and opted for retransmission agreements, which is costing each subscriber in my system about 4 dollars per month. The broadcast channels are not free on cable tv systems and have not been since the 1990's, so I do not see any problem with encryption. Besides, just like Dish and Direct TV, cable tv systems are privately owned closed looped systems. I never hear about anybody complaining that you need some type of company owned device to veiw satellite tv, especially the local channels, so why can't cable operators do the same thing.
Besides since cable operators receive the content from the same source owners as the two sat companies, there is now a move to MPEG 4 encoding on cable tv systems, which means any device that does not have the ability to decode a encrypted MPEG 4 QAM 256 stream will be useless in the coming future. The only device that a consumer can buy right now with those capabilities is the Tivo Premeires. Even Ion Broadcasting is trying the Air box system in certain markets and is broadcasting encrypted MPEG 4 content on their over the air feeds. According to the ATSC standards the only feed that the broadcasters must make free to the air is their standard definition digital feed. The rest can be encrypted and the consumer can be charged a fee to view it. This includes the HD feed as HD is considered a premium product by the broadcast and content industry. This is why there is strict rules regarding the recording and copying of HD content in the United States.
What also gets lost in this arguement is that the broadcast networks, cable and sat channels, and movie and music studios are mostly owned by about 6 large corporations. They are Disney Corp, Fox News Corp, CBS Corp, Comcast, Time Warner, and the very anal Sony Corp. If you have any complaints as to what you pay for content and why you can't record content then you must complain to these corporations. Sony even goes the extra mile because the own rights to HDMI, SPDIF, Bluray, AVC HD, to name a few so they have a real big say in what is allowed in consumer devices and what those devices can and can not do.
Even most local broadcast affiliates are now owned by a handful of corporations like Nexstar, Sinclair, Hearst, etc.
Because of the shellacking my cable tv operator took recently from a local broadcast station over retransmission agreement, they broke thier silence over these deals and printed this letter to let the subscribers know how all this started and who is responsible for all this mess.
I apologize for the rant but if you keep blaming the wrong entities then the problem will just get even worse that it already is.