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Television Your Rights Online

BBC Wants DRM On HD Broadcasts 267

NickFortune writes "The EFF's Danny O'Brien has pointed out that the BBC has asked a UK regulator for permission to add DRM to their high-definition broadcasts. Apparently, this is at the behest of content providers. 'BBC is proposing to encode the TV listings metadata that accompanies all digital TV channels with a simple compression algorithm. The parameters to this algorithm would be kept secret by the BBC: it would ask manufacturers to sign a private agreement in order to receive a copy. This license would require the implementation of pervasive DRM in the equipment they build.' Ofcom, the regulatory body in question, has detailed the proposal asked for comments, but the window closes today."
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BBC Wants DRM On HD Broadcasts

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:26PM (#29442743)

    That might have been true in the past. Now the BBC is awful. The news is biased nonsense ruined by trying to keep it modern and exciting (sigh) and half of the programming is apparently commissioned by women who attach great importance to handbags and shoes: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00k9f5g/Snog_Marry_Avoid_Series_2_Episode_11/

  • by quarkoid ( 26884 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:34PM (#29442895) Homepage

    It would be nice if you got your facts in order before mouthing off.

    There is no fine/tax on the purchase of a new TV (I don't think I know a single person who calls them 'tellys' any more).

    There is a licence fee - GBP142.50 a year. For that, we get many TV channels, umpteen national radio stations and even more local radio stations.

    All of it without adverts.

    News quality is absolutely superb. I think it's the biggest news broadcaster in the world which is not owned by some media billionaire or controlled by government. Personally, I'd trust the BBC news over any other source (note I'm not saying they're perfect though).

    As a Brit, I'm proud of the BBC. Having visited many many countries, I can safely say there is absolutely no competition. None at all.


  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:38PM (#29442929)

    Sorry, I modded the parent by mistake, so I'm mainly posting to undo that.

    However, it is worth pointing out that the parent is misleading on several counts. The BBC's public funding comes primarily from the licence fee rather than a tax on new TV purchases, and the BBC is not the same as the government. I have a suspicion that the whole post might have been meant as humour/irony, but if so, I'm afraid it failed: it's too close to the truth to be ironic, yet too wrong to be informative.

  • Bad summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by yoriz ( 979805 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:39PM (#29442943)

    BBC uses a simple huffman compression to reduce the volume of the EPG data. By that, they violate the DVB standard and thus are contemplating whether they should ask for licensing fee and treat it as a proprietary extension to the standard, or whether they should publish all details and ask for it to be integrated in the DVB standard.

  • by Finallyjoined!!! ( 1158431 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:41PM (#29442967)
    You really don't have a clue, do you? The BBC is not government sponsored, neither is it a monopoly.

  • by arkhan_jg ( 618674 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:46PM (#29443033)

    hefty fine on the purchase of any new TV set.

    Uhh, not quite. You need a licence to watch broadcast TV, per household. So if you have 10 TVs, you still only need one licence. If you don't connect any TV to an aerial, i.e. you use it for a console or DVDs, you don't need a licence.

    The annual cost is £140 odd a year; £12 or about $20 a month. For that we get 4 main tv channels, 4 minor ones, 7 national and a whole bunch of local radio stations, and arguably the best news website on the planet. All commercial advert free. Personally, I think the BBC TV is pretty good; their documentaries and nature programmes are top notch, at least, and they get the important sports rights, again free to watch. Nor is it government run, or funded; the tax is collected by a separate body, and given direct to the BBC, with no government control over editorial or programming decisions.

    How much is the average cable subscription in the US - with adverts - again?

  • by abigsmurf ( 919188 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:53PM (#29443157)
    The BBC is only required to broadcast to the British public free of charge, not to provide their titles for free (hence they charge for DVDs and such).

    They also don't exclusively show content they have full rights to. For example sporting events, Hollywood movies and so on have restrictions on how they can show them.
  • by abigsmurf ( 919188 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:58PM (#29443225)
    Sky TV have over 240 channels. The BBC has 8. Doesn't really sound like a monopoly does it.

    The BBC is not government sponsored at all (except for the BBC World service). The money the BBC gets is collected by the BBC and is never even seen by the Government.
  • Content providers (Score:3, Informative)

    by RalphSleigh ( 899929 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:07PM (#29443379) Homepage

    Given the Beebs previous actions with the iplayer, I am going to believe for now this is only because the content providers have requested it. The BBC does sometimes show imported shows like The Wire, Heroes, etc. The makers of these shows are probably reluctant to let the BBC broadcast them in HD without any sort of copy protection*. This is the same problem that made them use DRM on the iplayer, first windows only and now the adobe stuff. (They had the cross platform air application out the same day adobe released air, and even published a news story on their website talking about how some people had broken the windows DRM they were using and what the program was called hint hint nudge nudge.)

    *because then us Brits might put them on bittorrent, instead of downloading the American ones that are released months/years earlier. The only time I ever saw a show from here first was some of the last Stargate SG1, because Sky (a UK satellite TV outfit, not free or unencrypted) didn't have the mid season break. Look at the channel ident from any torrent to get a good idea of where it aired first.

  • by barq ( 1194291 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:28PM (#29443727)

    "Can I buy a TV just to play games on it without paying the tax?"


    The license fee is payable yearly, not at the point of purchase. If your TV isn't hooked up to receive television then you don't have to pay the license fee.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:06PM (#29444385)


  • by Threni ( 635302 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:33PM (#29444833)

    > This is incorrect. The BBC is not free of charge.

    And the company which sells DVDs is not the same BBC, but a spin-off, which clearly is allowed to charge.

  • by mftb ( 1522365 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:55PM (#29445177) Homepage

    If they can't prove you've been watching broadcasts, they can't have you. Yeah, you could leave your tv unplugged from the aerial and you'd be fine.

  • by JTL21 ( 190706 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @04:11PM (#29445389) Homepage

    Actually there is no legal impediment to accessing the fta video and audio.

    The only restriction is on accessing the metadata and that is only that the BBC claim it is a breach of their copyright in the compression tables.

    The DTLA say that manufacturers of DTCP products MUST NOT apply DRM to FTA content. BBC are trying to argue to DTLA that content is protected and to Ofcom that it is fta.

    Request to Ofcom is very misleading in several ways. E.g. The D book version with content protection requirements has not been agreed. Major bust up with Samsung and Sony opposed to BBC. Broadcast meant to start 2nd December but spec and broadcasting license not sorted shows the mess the BBC is making.

  • by jabuzz ( 182671 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @05:44PM (#29446799) Homepage

    Yes he is the BBC operates under a Royal Charter, and has nothing to do with the executive. The license fee is collected by a none governmental organization, and goes direct to the BBC. They are also responsible for enforcement of the license fee, but they are *NOT* part of the government. Just like if I where to somehow hack Sky's encryption and watch their excuse for TV without paying them any money they could take me to court and have me fined.

    At no point does any money pass through HM Treasury.

  • Re:Get stuffed BBC (Score:2, Informative)

    by AnonymouseClown ( 800840 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @11:25PM (#29449983)
    they aren't reducing analogue power to make it look bad, they're doing it in accordance with the plan that's been set for about 10 years as part of the switch over. freeview and analogue share frequencies so in essence it's one or the other. freeview power on my local mast is currently at 20% of the total - solely so that it doesn't interfere with analogue too much. i can't wait until they switch off analogue completely so that they finally have the bandwidth to display stuff at full power and with far more HD channels. as much as you might like to think it's a conspiracy it's actually for good technical reasons.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama