Digital Broadcast Formats – Thumbs up or Thumbs Down?

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Digital Broadcast Formats - Thumbs up or Thumbs Down?

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (F.C.C.) will vote on two key matters on Thursday, August 8, 2002 regarding digital broadcasts and the television media they are broadcast with.

The first issue is whether consumer electronics manufacturers must include digital tuners in all new television sets by the year 2006. Vigorously opposing this measure is the Consumer Electronics Association, citing cost increases of at least $250 US to the basic price of television sets, and that this requirement would have limited benefit to only viewers who receive their broadcasting signals directly over the airwaves, rather than by cable or satellite. Electronics companies are hopeful that the F.C.C. will instead require the cable companies to broadcast local digital television signals. For obvious reasons, the cable companies are not in favor of this alternative.

The second key issue that the F.C.C. will debate is whether Hollywood studios’ balk in releasing films and television programs in digital broadcast format makes sense, since anti-piracy technology could be embedded prior to the release of films and television programs. At the heart of this is the studios’ fear of technology thieves, who copy programs and films and then rebroadcast them over the Internet. The studios and technology executives claim that encryption technology is too easily broken by pirates, and that the cost of adding this encryption to their media would not be worth the investment.