masteroffm's blog

Sep 04 2009

Blog - MPAA still pushing to close the "Analog Hole"

The MPAA is once again trying to push forth "Selectable Output Control" which would give the MPAA and movie studios the ability to disable the analog output of set-top boxes at will.  This would leave anyone not using a digital connection such as HDMI to have to replace their televison and/or other hardware such as set-top boxes.  This would also render such devices as the Hauppauge HD-PVR useless.

{joomsay link=http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/09/movie-studios-again-demand-hdtv-disabling-powers-from-fcc.ars [Ars Technica]}But critics of the proposed deal want to know why the FCC should let the studios on whose behalf MPAA is petitioning—Paramount, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Disney, and Warner Brothers—limit the capabilities of home TV systems that consumers have already bought and installed. "The side effect," warns the consumer group Public Knowledge in an educational video it has put out on this question, "is that SOC would break all eleven million HDTVs in the US that don't have digital input. In essence, all the MPAA wants is to control when and how you watch the stuff you've already paid for."{/joomsay}
Aug 28 2009

Blog - Enjoy ClearQAM while you can

While this wont have an affect on myself as I don't subscribe to cable, I was really hoping the FCC was going to stick it to the cable companies and not allow them to enable "Privacy Mode".  Now the cable companies will be forcing DTAs on customers when the could have easily used the integrated QAM tuner integrated into newer TVs.  This is also a blow to a lot of DIY HTPC users with QAM tuners as now they will be limited only to channels that are "Must-Carry" from their cable provider.  All of this smacks of when AT&T used to force you to purchase your telephone handset directly from them and forbid the use of third-party hardware.  Maybe one day we will be free to use the services we pay for with the hardware we choose.  Unfortunately that will not be a day any time soon.

{joomsay link=http://www.anandtech.com/weblog/showpost.aspx?i=637 [Anandtech]}The ramifications are two-fold. For the cable companies, once they implement this Privacy Mode across the board they will no longer have to install and maintain expensive signal traps to keep customers on lower tiers such as Limited Basic from accessing additional channels. For computer/HTPC users, this is an end to being able to directly receive EB tier channels with any kind of commonly available digital tuner. Privacy Mode is not open for licensing, and CableLabs will not license CableCARD for any kind of open (read: not locked down to hell and back) tuner. This means ClearQAM tuners made by ATI, Hauppauge, SiliconDust, and others would no longer be useful for receiving EB tier channels.{/joomsay}

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