FCC still in discussion over the broadcast flag

In a statement given to the House Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property, W. Kenneth Ferree, Chief of the FCC’s Media Bureau, reported that the commission's notice of proposed rule making (NPRM) on digital broadcast copy protection issued last August, received more than 6000 comments, most from individual citizens. The comment proceeding closed February 18th.

Ferree stated that the commission is keeping an open mind on the so-called “broadcast flag” issue. He said that the notice made no proposals, but laid out the issues in a neutral manner and that it didn’t even assume that a problem existed. At issue is whether content producers will continue to provide the terrestrial networks with high value HD content if a method of stopping copying of such material is not built into DTV receivers. The commission thinks that DBS and cable gateways into the home are somehow inherently less vulnerable than the terrestrial portal.

Ferree said that the programmers fear that the “napsterization” of broadcast television content via recorded digital content uploaded onto the Internet. But the FCC said that it is concerned about the impact the flag would have on consumers, both on their ability to make copies of broadcast television content and on the technology in the home.

In late 2001 an inter-industry working group attempted to develop a technical solution to this problem, specifically focusing on the possibility of a broadcast flag. In it’s final report issued last June, the committee offered no clear consensus as how to proceed. That led to the FCC’s NPRM a couple of months later.

For more information visit www.fcc.gov.

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