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CBS threatens to stop HDTV


By Bill McConnell

Broadcasting & Cable

12/11/2002 6:10:00 PM


Faced with a hostile reaction to the broadcast industry’s preferred copy-protection method, Viacom Inc.-owned CBS is threatening to cease all high-definition programming during the 2003-2004 season.


A CBS boycott of HDTV would be a blow to the government’s effort to generate consumer and equipment-maker interest in the switch to digital transmissions.


Besides airing all 18 of its prime time comedies and dramas in HD, CBS has offered an impressive lineup of HD sports. That includes the 2001 Super Bowl, the NCAA Men’s Final Four and Masters Golf tournament during the last three years.


A variety of industry groups, including Silicon Valley companies and consumer-equipment makers, argued that the so-called "broadcast flag" will not be effective in preventing unauthorized streaming of copied programming over the net and is not necessary to ensure that high-quality digital programming is made available for free over-the-air broadcasts.


In the meantime, consumers might face diminished home-recording rights, the critics say.


Broadcasters and Hollywood, however, say HD movies and other valuable programming will not be made available to stations unless the government imposes an effective copy-protection mechanism for over-the-air transmissions.
 

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Quote:
CBS threatens to stop HDTV


By Bill McConnell

Broadcasting & Cable

12/11/2002 6:10:00 PM


A variety of industry groups, including Silicon Valley companies and consumer-equipment makers, argued that the so-called "broadcast flag" will not be effective in preventing unauthorized streaming of copied programming over the net and is not necessary to ensure that high-quality digital programming is made available for free over-the-air broadcasts.
Have these idiots on both sides not been part of the real world for the last few years?


You can't "stream HD over the net" without re-compressing it. Do all the studio executives have T3 lines into their homes or something? We all know about the problems of re-compressing, among them the time to do the job and the (in)compatibility of codecs, and even then an hour of HD takes up more than 300MB. You also need a 2.5GHz machine to do the playback.


You can't encrypt OTA HD, unless you are willing to supply free replacement STBs to all the people with "legacy" devices. You'd end up doing it because of the class-action suit anyway, but I don't think that anybody will pony up the close to $500M it would take to do it without a lawsuit.


And, nothing they do without encrypting OTA will stop anything, as there are enough people with HDTV cards in PCs already to record everything and post it to newsgroups. There's nothing that will stop the HiPix, MyHD, or other cards from recording without software changes that can always be ignored.
 

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i would settle it, ota stays as is -- cp free, they don't like it then too bad .. they can be left in the past
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by nabsltd
You can't encrypt OTA HD, unless you are willing to supply free replacement STBs to all the people with "legacy" devices. You'd end up doing it because of the class-action suit anyway, but I don't think that anybody will pony up the close to $500M it would take to do it without a lawsuit.


And, nothing they do without encrypting OTA will stop anything, as there are enough people with HDTV cards in PCs already to record everything and post it to newsgroups. There's nothing that will stop the HiPix, MyHD, or other cards from recording without software changes that can always be ignored.
None of this is about the here and now. It's about the future, and the uncertainty therein. It's also about having agreed upon standards. The number of HD users now is miniscule, so even if piracy were rampant, there would be very few buyers for the material. In the past, pirated versions of almost any entertainment material - music, television, feature films - were so far below the original in quality that the market was, to some degree, "self policing," in that for most consumers it was worth the extra few dollars to obtain a legal copy. What the industry is concerned with is the future, in which digital technology raises the stakes considerably in that all copies are essentially clones of the original - thus reducing the value of obtaining a legal version. There has already been a ridiculously never-ending thread here about piracy in the music business, so I don't want to open that can of worms again. I'm just offering up some of the basic reasons for the concern.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by kippjones
The government needs to step in and step in now. They need to settle this crap once and for all.
They've never understood what they're dealing with and they don't understand it now. They failed to create a single HD broadcast standard, and they failed to understand that cable is a more significant delivery system today than over the air broadcast. This will eventually be settled, and I seriously doubt that CBS or anyone else will have to follow through with their threat, but it's rather pathetic that it's come to this in the first place.
 

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I think the worries about piracy of OTA broadcasts are pretty damn stupid. It's one thing to say that you want encryption or flags on HBO, SHO, etc (though I'm not getting into that debate right now). But really, what "premium" content gets broadcast OTA that there's a big piracy market for? Movies that have already hit every other distribution medium? I don't think there's any evidence to support that thoery. Network broadcasts of hollywood movies are butchered (content, OAR) and filled with commercials. Nobody wants to buy bootlegs of those. And I don't think there's a big piracy market for other OTA content such as network series. What they really want is to control your viewing habits. They won't be happy until everything is pay-per-play.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by JKohn
I think the worries about piracy of OTA broadcasts are pretty damn stupid. It's one thing to say that you want encryption or flags on HBO, SHO, etc (though I'm not getting into that debate right now). But really, what "premium" content gets broadcast OTA that there's a big piracy market for?
Who do you think owns Showtime? (Answer: Viacom). Or HBO? (Answer: AOL/TimeWarner/Turner/etc.). And what else do these companies own? (Answer: Viacom owns Paramount. AOL/Timeetc. owns Warner Brothers, New Line, etc.). CBS may be the face being shown, but behind that face is a whole load of other faces that are much more directly affected. The broadcast business is no longer owned by broadcasters, it is owned by much larger conglomerates who have a lot at stake besides their free network delivered programming. In fact, every network (including UPN, WB, Fox, and just about every major cable network) with the exception of NBC is owned by a company that also owns a motion picture studio, home video company, and distribution apparatus. You need to see the big picture to understand what this is all about.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by JKohn
But really, what "premium" content gets broadcast OTA that there's a big piracy market for?
Folks pay $40-$60 or more for a season of their favorite shows on DVDs (season 6 of the X-Files is going for $150, list). If you could download bit-perfect copies of the broadcasts from the net, fewer and fewer people will invest in such things as time goes on.


As for the amount of time it'd take to download HD video from the net, we should be getting much higher bandwidth broadband into the home in the next few years, to support legitimate multimedia distribution.


There is a problem. I don't know how they can possibly solve it, but it exists. I say that, as long as it's none too onerous (for me, personally, but then I never archive copies of anything I timeshift ;)), let them adopt whatever measures they want to. Once it's been put in place and subsequently hacked, they can hardly complain. But I think that they realize that nothing is hack-proof; they just want to make it harder to hack than is worth the trouble for Joe Average.


Congress threatened to step in and impose something of their choosing if the studios and the CE industry couldn't agree on something by the end of this year. I wouldn't expect anything that they impose to be particularly consumer minded--the only rhetoric I've heard from them and the FCC about this has consistently acknowledged a need for means to protect Hollywood's digital media. There are some strong congressional voices supporting the MPAA stance, with no apparent firm support (from law-makers) for the other side.


-- Mike Scott
 

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Quote:
Who do you think owns Showtime? (Answer: Viacom). Or HBO? (Answer: AOL/TimeWarner/Turner/etc.).
But the point of this particular debate had to do with OTA broadcasts; the debate is pretty much over with regard to cable and satellite (they may not have finalized every last detail yet, but from what I remember reading copy protection is pretty much a done deal for cable and satellite).
 

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You can't encrypt OTA HD, unless you are willing to supply free replacement STBs to all the people with "legacy" devices. You'd end up doing it because of the class-action suit anyway, but I don't think that anybody will pony up the close to $500M it would take to do it without a lawsuit.
What the broadcast industry is asking for is to merely encode a flag in the broacast that equipment manufacturers would be obliged to look for in new hardware. The reason the broadcast industry wants to go this route is for backwards compatibility.


The equipment manufacturers want the responsibility to be on the broadcasters, they want an encrypted stream that *would* require new STB's to be purchased (surprise, surprise more money for the equipment manufacturers!)


If there has to be some form of copy protection (which I don't necessarily believe) then the "broadcast flag" method proposed by the broadcast industry is the least onerous and most reasonable of all the ideas being bantered around.
 

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None of this makes any fxxxxxg sense. Why does everything have to turn into a pissing contest? I can understand Hollywood being concerned about piracy of premium content such as that which is available from HBO, Showtime, etc., but the crap that makes it to OTA broadcasts is barely worth time-shifting. What the hell makes them believe that anyone in their right mind would actually want to pay for a copy of a movie that bares little resemblance (content-wise) to the original theatrical version? I hope whomever does anything to render "legacy" HDTV equipment obsolete gets sued to the point of bankruptcy.
 

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This announcement is ironic because I just started watching *anything* on CBS because of their HD line-up. I *never* watched CBS before, I considered them the grandma network (Murder She Wrote, Touched by An Angel, et. all.)


I'm sure that there are many others like me that fall into this camp. We're a direct increase in viewership (i.e. potential ad revenue) due to their "free" HD content. If they pull the plug, I'll simply stop watching CBS ... I made it this long without CSI, I can do it again! ;-)
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Rudy1
I hope whomever does anything to render "legacy" HDTV equipment obsolete gets sued to the point of bankruptcy.
Well, however this shakes out, the above scenario won't happen. Nobody signed a binding agreement with anybody saying their equipment would always be completely compatible with the medium. That'd be like suing a software maker because your Pentium 200 MMX can't handle today's programs. Yeah, it'll suck if it ever comes down to obsoletion, but that is always one of the risks taken with early adoption of anything. I'm not saying be quiet about your anger, I just don't think a lawsuit would fly.


I just wish they'd get their act together on something and soon. The public can express its displeasure with more than just a lawsuit.
 

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"""Who do you think owns Showtime? (Answer: Viacom). Or HBO? (Answer: AOL/TimeWarner/Turner/etc.). And what else do these companies own? (Answer: Viacom owns Paramount. AOL/ Timeetc. owns Warner Brothers, New Line, etc.). CBS may be the face being shown, but behind that face is a whole load of other faces that are much more directly affected. The broadcast business is no longer owned by broadcasters, it is owned by much larger conglomerates who have a lot at stake besides their free network delivered programming. In fact, every network (including UPN, WB, Fox, and just about every major cable network) with the exception of NBC is owned by a company that also owns a motion picture studio, home video company, and distribution apparatus. You need to see the big picture to understand what this is all about.""""


You hit the nail on the head !!!!



But the focus needs to be on the picture at hand, ota broadcasting, what is necessary, and reasonable, with regard to cp under that distribution medium, if any at all. . That said I understand that it is because of those parent companies that we getting this request/demand for a broadcast flag though; you are SO right about that; but that doesn't mean it is acceptable or should be honored.


Their motion picture business don't have alot to do with ota broadcasting, in real world terms of what is actually shown via ota for the most part... As by the time they bless us with some of their premium motion picture content, it has been milked by every other revenue market/model . And i for one don't buy the argument that a broadcast flag will bring these motion pictures to us "free of charge" sooner then it does now, or more of them, that would be cutting throat of their other cash cows.


Now yes some shows are marketable in dvd, but it is the vast minority, and even less are from ota.


if cbs wants to boycott hd while the other network continue and more become available else where, well good luck to them. With this sort of thinking they may need it... :(
 

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You pay to see the movies theatrically, then you pay to see them on cable or satellite, then you buy them on DVD or DVHS, then they have the cojones to want to restrict whether or not you can tape the watered down, commercially-interrupted version of the same old movies broadcast OTA. Brilliant.
 

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Originally posted by Dave Beebe
Just sounds like a game of chicken.
Chicken, and a good opening salvo in the latest round of the fine art of negotiating.
 

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The piracy argument generally falls down in the case of broadcast programming -- even with the issue of selling TV show seasons as boxsets. Anyone who sells bootlegs made from off-air broadcasts will have to deal with very pissed off customers who take the programs home and discover a network logo in the corner of the screen and split screen promos over the closing credits.


Aside from that, there are other measures that content producers have used to increase the value of the DVD packages. The "Friends" and "Farscape" DVDs include scenes that were edited out of the US broadcasts, and "Simpsons" DVDs have included commentary tracks and other bonus material. Even the $30 "MASH" sets include scenes that haven't been scene on broadcast television in twenty years.


So I can't really believe that the main issue is piracy and bootlegging of *broadcast* tv programming -- that's too easy to take care of by "spoiling" the recordings with network logos and promos during the shows.
 
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