NextGen TV’s DRM puts future of the over-the-air DVR in doubt

To: cjcox

I do not have a particularly optimistic personality. Murphy’s law removed most of the unbridled optimism from my personality during my broadcast career. But I have tried to control my more pessimistic tendencies.

In my experience, FCC regulation has always been real, and that belief continues.

In its rulings on 20 June 2023 the FCC telegraphed its continuing requirements.

On page 4 of that ruling: (Emphasis of capital letters is mine, and footnote references removed)
“A Next Gen TV station’s ATSC 1.0 “simulcast” must be “substantially similar” to that of the primary video programming stream on the ATSC 3.0 channel. SUBSTANTIALLY SIMILAR “MEANS THAT THE PROGRAMMING MUST BE THE SAME EXCEPT FOR ADVERTISEMENTS, PROMOTIONS FOR UPCOMING PROGRAMS, AND PROGRAMMING FEATURES THAT ARE BASED ON THE ENHANCED CAPABILITIES OF ATSC 3.0.”

And I fully expect that the FCC will continue to protect the Primary video programming far into the future.

With that as a given, I do not see any change in my current recording capability. I have no wish for 4K programming, and even less of a wish to record it. With my ATSC 1 television on the Primary program I can see the texture of the actor’s faces. Realistically speaking, I do not even need that much resolution.

If broadcasters put some 4K video on a secondary program channel and encrypt it, I will suffer no loss whatsoever. If they encrypt all of their secondary program channels, I will endure without them. ON THE OTHER HAND, THOSE BROADCASTERS WILL LOSE ADVERTISING DOLLARS OR POTENTIAL CONTRIBUTORS TO THE PBS STATIONS.

What is an OTA broadcast worth without eyeballs viewing the programming? Thoughtful broadcasters will encourage viewers TO CONNECT TO THE INTERNET by providing enhanced video because then they can document the number of their viewers and demand higher fees from advertisers! The wisest of those broadcasters are already seeing encryption as a distraction!

On the other hand, your advice that users remain alert to changes and submit objections to the FCC, is a good one.

Hey, I’m hoping you/re right… I so desperately want to be wrong. Just fyi, so far I’m winning… but I do want to lose. I do.

So “me” losing means:

  1. Nothing changes with regards to content/channels on ATSC 1.0 due directly or indirectly to broadcasters implementing 3.0

  2. Users will be able to capture, record, time shift live and export recordings of broadcast content without limitations, just as it is today. Users are still under law, just not prevented from doing what they should be allowed to do.

  3. No “secret club” of “ok” providers will be essentially created for the purposes of locking out entities “they” don’t like. Arguably this exists today, I would just like for this to not be expanded further.

The new end of substantially similar is july of 2027.

You won’t be able to export DRM recordings. But hopefully migrate them to a new box from the same vendor.

FCC is working with NAB on ATSC 1.0 phase out plan

you’re winning.

To: cjcox

Eventually I will have to purchase something to view and record from the new ATSC 3.

I suppose that is a loss of sorts. So I suppose that glass is half empty.

That date has been pushed back to 2027. Perhaps they will have to push it back further if they cannot resolve the DRM issues.

My first Tablo died after a lightning strike to a nearby power pole.

My current one is not giving me any problems yet but perhaps it will by July 2027. My 43 year old outdoor antenna could be adjusted a little more north but the signals are strong enough to pickup channels from 5 to 55 miles away.

Hey, I have no losses.

IMHO (where we are all truly losing), if they do offer ATSC 3.0 capable DVRs, they will be “locked” so that the recordings (or Live even) can only be played over local LAN and only from device where it was recorded (or tuned if Live). But even with that huge limitation, there are hurdles today.

Which I know for many is “good enough”… I just expect more.

One that impacts Tablo today, but differently and has to do with codec support. We may understand HEVC (h265) ok, but AC4 …?? Something our end devices will have support if our devices aren’t allowed to transcode, etc.

You have bigger issues then AC-4. The current API specifications are for widevine. While roku, android, and firetv use widevine, apple and microsoft use their own security architecture.

And other A3SA requirements may not be able to be implemented on Roku.

But all of this is for gateway/network access. HDMI connected STB’s are different.

Actually was mentioning AC-4 irrespective of DRM, but you are right about the other issues with their current (crappy) DRM.

Thanks for the reference. That is some of the more hopeful language I have read on the topic.

In the same ruling, the FCC wrote,

We also extend the sunsets of, and thus retain in effect until at least July 17, 2027, the substantially similar rule for simulcast streams…

And in a footnote,

The Commission will initiate a review approximately one year before these rules are set to expire to seek comment on whether they should be extended based on marketplace conditions at that time.

Source: FCC Adopts ATSC 3.0 Multicast Licensing and Extends Sunset Dates | Federal Communications Commission

To: Knutsen

Nice catch on the footnote “The Commission will initiate a review approximately one year before these rules are set to expire to seek comment on whether they should be extended based on marketplace conditions at that time.”

This is standard government review process.

Yes the FCC will do reviews until the ATSC 3.0 systems are proven to be practical to replace the ATSC 1.0 systems and are formally accepted. (Encoders, Transmitters, and Receivers) Until then, the OTA broadcasters are participating in an experiment.

And that footnote is a heads-up as to the approximate date for any interested parties who might want to supply information/objections for that review.

As I wrote in response to cjcox “On the other hand, your advice that users remain alert to changes and submit objections to the FCC, is a good one.”

The horse has left the barn for encoders and transmitters. A lot of repack money was spent to upgrade these. And the new ones all support dual mode. And last April the FCC warned broadcasters they better follow A/322 for ATSC 3.0

Update today regarding gateway devices, but still nothing providing any hope for out of home streaming

2 Likes

Lon.TV has a new video on this: ATSC 3 News: Broadcasters Set New Rules for DVRs / Gateways like the HDhomerun and Tablo

2 Likes