Does DTV need a broadcast flag? - FCC
Music Industry News - as it happens
Source: MusicDish/Mi2N - August 9, 2002
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wants to explore whether the it
can, and should, "mandate the use of a copy protection mechanism for digital
broadcast television, and what impact such regulation would have on
With that in mind, it's initiated a 'rulemaking' designed to "facilitate the
transition to digital television", it says, going on, "the current lack of
digital broadcast copy protection may be a key impediment to the DTV
transition's progress. Without a digital copy protection scheme that
prevents the unauthorized copying and redistribution of digital media,
programming content providers assert that they will not permit the digital
broadcast of high quality programming. Without such programming, consumers
may be reluctant to buy DTV receivers and equipment, thereby delaying the
"Private industry negotiations have reached consensus on a technical
'broadcast flag' standard (ATSC Standard A65/A) that would limit copying of
some programming aired by broadcast-TV stations. However, there is no
universal agreement on the use and implementation of the flag. There is also
no industry agreement on how to enforce digital broadcast copy protection."
In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), the FFC says it's looking for
views on the jurisdictional basis for FCC action in this area and whether
the FCC should intercede in it.
"The NPRM also asks that if a digital broadcast flag or other regulatory
regime is needed, should the FCC adopt rules or create some other mechanism
to resolve outstanding compliance, robustness and enforcement issues," it
"If FCC-mandated digital broadcast copy protection rules are needed, the
NPRM asks the following questions:
- Is the broadcast flag the appropriate technological model to be used?
- Is a government mandate requiring broadcasters and content providers to
embed the broadcast flag (or other content control mark) within digital
broadcast programming necessary?
"Regarding reception of the digital broadcast signal, the NPRM seeks comment
in the following areas:
- Should the FCC mandate that consumer electronics devices recognize and
give effect to the broadcast flag (or other content control mark)?
- What is the appropriate point in a consumer electronics device at which
digital broadcast copy protection should begin?
- Would a digital broadcast copy protection system be effective in
protecting digital broadcast content from improper redistribution?
- Would digital broadcast copy protection work for digital broadcast
stations carried on cable or direct broadcast satellite systems? How?
- Should the FCC mandate the use of specific copy protection technologies
(such as DTCP/5C or HDCP) in consumer electronics devices that are designed
to respond to the broadcast flag? And, if so, how would a particular
technology receive approval for use and who would be the appropriate entity
to make that decision?
"As to the impact of the broadcast flag or other digital broadcast copy
protection mechanism on consumers, the NPRM asks the following questions:
- Will requirements to protect digital outputs interfere with the ability to
send DTV content across secure digital networks?
- What is the impact of digital broadcast copy protection mechanisms on
existing and future electronic equipment?
- Will digital broadcast copy protection have an effect on the development
of new consumer technologies?"
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