Advanced Television

Freeview want to restrict HD

September 16, 2009

Freeview TV are demanding that set-top box and PVR manufacturers accept new DRM standards to protect HD content. The BBC told Ofcom it should encrypt the DTT HD signal via a "broadcast flag" so that only selected PVRs will be able to record over Freeview.

The actual audio and video won't be scrambled, but the standard EPG data tables that STBs use—freely available via the Digital TV Group—would be encrypted so that only manufacturers that sign up to a new licence will have access to the right code, which is needed for recording.

Ofcom launched a consultation (pdf) on 3 September and says it is "minded to amend" the Freeview multiplex licence allowing for the "protection of intellectual property rights in HDTV services". In a letter to Ofcom the BBC said: "As broadband speeds are increasing, facilitating the unauthorised redistribution of HD content, HD content rights holders have begun to expect a degree of content management on the Freeview HD platform…Whilst no system provides a complete deterrent to determined hackers, content management applied in the receiver after reception helps to prevent mass piracy."

This would potentially hobble any existing STBs from recording HD but theBBC says "No existing Freeview boxes will be affected by this. We are committed to ensuring that public service content remains free to air, i.e. unencrypted. However, HD content holders have begun to expect a degree of content management on the Freeview HD platform and therefore broadcasters have recognised that a form of copy protection is needed."

Categories: Articles, Broadcast, DTT/DSO, UHD