FCC raises broadcast flag for internet TV distrbn

WASHING D.C: Authorities in the US are coming down hard on the internet being used a media delivery system. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) HAS adopted an anti-piracy mechanism, also known as the broadcast flag for digital broadcast television.

The goal of is to foster the transition to digital TV and forestall potential harm to the viability of free, over-the-air broadcasting in the digital age. .

The broadcast flag is a digital code that can be embedded into a digital broadcasting stream. It signals DTV reception equipment to limit the indiscriminate redistribution of digital broadcast content. The FCC has allowed broadcasters to decide whether or not to include the flag with specific types of programming. The FCC also declined to prohibit the use of the flag with regard to certain types of programming, such as news or public affairs.

The FCC also said that the consumer's ability to make digital copies will not be affected; The main aim of the broadcast flag is to prevent mass distribution over the Internet. Finally, the FCC added that the implementation of the broadcast flag will not require consumers to purchase any new equipment.

The new rules are targetted only at products that are capable of receiving DTV signals over-the-air. These products must comply with the broadcast flag requirements by 1 July 2005. Other products such as digital VCRs, DVD players and personal computers that are not built with digital tuners installed are not required to comply with the new rule. In addition, the FCC has explained that existing televisions, VCRs, DVD players and related equipment will remain fully functional under the new broadcast flag system.

The FCC also said that the current lack of digital broadcast content protection could be a key obstruction to the DTV transition's progress. The absence of such content protection could cause high value programming to migrate from broadcast television to more secure platforms such as cable and satellite TV service. Reduced availability of high value content on broadcast television could harm the viability of free over-the-air television and slow the DTV transition.

To facilitate adoption of broadcast flag technology in television receivers and related equipment by 2005, the FCC has established an interim policy. This allows proponents of a particular content protection or recording technology to certify to the FCC that such technology is an appropriate tool to give effect to the broadcast flag, The FCC's interim certification decisions will be guided by a series of objective criteria aimed at promoting innovation in content protection technology.

The FCC also adopted a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) seeking comment on a permanent objective process for the approval of digital recording and output content protection technologies. The aim is to foster innovation and competition in the market place.

FCC chairman Michael Powell had the following remarks to make about the endeavour. "The digital television transition rolls on. The Commission's adoption of the broadcast flag represents another important step in the digital television transition. Today's decision strikes a careful balance between content protection and technology innovation in order to promote consumer interests. In working through the difficult technical and policy questions in this area, I am very pleased that we have once again crafted digital TV policy in a bipartisan manner.

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