Technology

Casbaa, MPA join hands for content protection in the digital age

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SINGAPORE: With technology booming in the television world, one matter that needs immediate attention is protection of pay-TV content. Digital transmission is becoming the norm in the Asia-Pacific pay-television industry. Soon it will become the dominant means of handling content within the home and hence content protection becomes a critical issue for the entire industry.

The Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (Casbaa) technical committee chair and Zieland Group of Companies (New Zealand) chief technology officer Karl K Rossiter threw light on the technical approach to content protection. 

"Content providers, programme distributors and cable/satellite platform operators need to protect their revenue streams and avoid unauthorised distribution across the internet. This requires technical intervention and the adoption of a united approach to managing the digital output from future generations of set-top boxes (STBs). Manufacturers of those STBs and the chipsets that fill them need to know the technical controls that will be prescribed by platform operators and programme suppliers to protect content. To this end, Casbaa Technical Committee, with assistance from the Motion Picture Association (MPA), has taken up this challenge," he informed.

Casbaa Technical Committee has been working in close association with the Asia-Pacific pay-television industry since 2004 and through a formal consultation process with Casbaa members, it has compiled a series of recommendations covering content protection and technical approaches to managing the digital output from new STBs. 

Rossiter said, "The committee's approach has been to acknowledge standards for technologies developed by other relevant industry organisations and to incorporate input from manufacturers and operators. The recommendations provide for companies to choose one of a number of technologies, consistent with their commercial interests. On the other hand, the recommendations also incorporate provisions to take account of new technological developments." 

Casbaa Technical Committee Recommendations on content protection are as follows:

For Video-On-Demand (VOD), Pay-Per-View (PPV), Pay TV and other encrypted digital programming:

1) The ability of a STB to receive and honor usage rules signaling from the broadcaster that may include copy control, redistribution control, content output resolution controls, and content output enabling controls;

2) The ability of a STB to map usage rules signaling information from the broadcast to the appropriate equivalent signaling in any content outputs;

3) A standardised set of allowed digital content outputs for display purposes and for digital home networking have been identified.

4) A standardised set of allowed analog content outputs has been identified

For retransmission of unencrypted programming, for example, free-to-air broadcasts, over multi-channel broadcast systems such as cable and satellite:

1) A method for controlling the unauthorised redistribution of such programming comprising one of the following:

i. Encryption of the retransmitted free-to-air broadcasts, or other unencrypted programming, over the satellite, cable or "other" system and use of the same redistribution control solution established for VOD, PPV, PayTV and other encrypted digital programming; or

ii. In consultation with the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), implementation of a Redistribution Control protection regime that (a) provides a method to signal Redistribution Control in the unencrypted broadcast; (b) includes associated receiver requirements to look for the Redistribution Control signal and abide by it in accordance with output rules, compliance rules and robustness rules; (c) may be defined by an appropriate standards developing organization and (d) is established and required by an appropriate authority.

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