Broadcasters address DRM, CAS hacking, fingerprinting concerns in TRAI's draft addressable system regulations

The industry suggested adding anti-piracy safety and other technical features.

MUMBAI: Broadcasters have shared their suggestions on TRAI’s draft “The Telecommunication (Broadcasting And Cable) Services Interconnection (Addressable Systems) (Amendment) Regulations, 2019. The industry welcomed TRAI’s decision to regulate Digital Rights Management Systems (DRM) and include it in Schedule III of the regulations. However, it has also suggested that the authority should add anti-piracy safety prerequisites and other technical features in DRM technology before providing signals to any distribution platform.

Star India recommended TRAI that the distributor of television channels should ensure that the current version of the DRM in use, do not have any history of hacking. In the event that hacking of the DRM system is detected, such as, but not limited to cloning of STBs and/or VCs, the DRM vendor to be served a show cause notice as to why it should not be blacklisted with immediate effect. In the event of continued default beyond 7 days, the DPO shall be liable to pay 150 per cent of the preceding month’s billed amount.

It further said, “The DPO should maintain DRM and SMS downtime records along with MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure) and MTTR (Mean Time To Restore) validated by CAS and SMS vendors.”

Even Discovery suggested 21 prerequisites to be included in the amended regulations. It also said, “TRAI had undertaken a consultation process to prepare the audit manual wherein Discovery had submitted its comments / suggestion to the same. Some of the concerns raised by Discovery related to the efficient and seamless utilisation of an addressable system, and essential for an effective audit process. However, these have neither been discussed nor considered by TRAI. It would have been desirable in the interest of transparency, for TRAI to deal with these concerns of Discovery while bringing out the Draft Amendment.”

The draft stated that the distributor of television channels should ensure that the current version of the CAS, in use, does not have any history of hacking. In addition to it, Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) has suggested, “In the event hacking of the CAS system is detected, then the same should be intimated by CAS vendor to DPO and TRAI, and in-turn by DPO to all relevant broadcasters for impact assessment as well as remedial action with a copy to TRAI. Instance of hacking shall include but not limited to cloning of STBs and/or VCs.”

TRAI also stated in its draft that the distributor of television channels shall ensure that it has systems, processes and controls in place to run finger printing at regular intervals.  Sharing its suggestion on fingerprinting, Discovery said, “We strongly feel that covert fingerprint is a vital tool to detect piracy on the ground. In absence of this tool, if by any chance finger printing is disabled or blocked by the entity involved in piracy, covert finger printing technology will be useful to detect the card number used by such entity for carrying on piracy, so that broadcasters can switch off the signals immediately. This is especially helpful during sports events or any live feed as during such events the level of piracy increases. Therefore, we strongly recommend enforcement of covert technologies.”

Further it also recommended that TRAI should come up with a deadline for DPOs to replace their existing technologies/ STBs with covert fingerprinting technology. To curb piracy, the company recommended inclusion of a provision wherein it shall be mandatory for all the DPOs to upgrade the existing STBs with STBs supporting covert fingerprinting within a certain timeline as prescribed by TRAI.

Sony Pictures Network also suggested, “The watermarking network logo for all pay channels shall be inserted at encoder end only. Provided that only the encoders deployed after coming into effect of these regulations shall support watermarking network logo for all pay channels at the encoder end. Further, provided that all the encoders deployed shall support watermarking network logo for all pay channels at the encoder end by sunset date of 1 July 2020.”

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