A Mess

The Federal government will legislatively mandate a specific type of technology?

Broadcast and Audio Flag
Full Committee Hearing

Time frame (58:00 – 1:00:00)

U.S. Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) “And if we don’t do something were just going to kill off creative copyrighted material. . .”

Mr. Andy Setos

President of Engineering, Fox Entertainment Group

“Well we certainly won’t see creative, high quality material on local broadcast stations, that is where this is really focused, this really isn’t a copyright play its really in the interest of . . . broadcast stations.”


Business week

For nearly a decade, the nation's 1,700 TV stations have been promising to broadcast crystal-clear digital signals to viewers across the country. But somehow, rushing toward that end never seemed to be entirely in their best interest.

Those promises go back to a deal broadcasters made with the federal government under the 1996 Telecommunications Act and a follow-up congressional bill a year later. Broadcasters received free electronic airwaves -- which are technically owned by the public and controlled by the federal government -- for digital transmissions. In return, they had to give back the airwaves they now use for their old analog broadcasts, which had been doled out over several decades. But they didn't have to return it until 85% of U.S. households receive digital signals or the year 2006, whichever came later.


Digital rights management (DRM) technology is rapidly becoming a concrete reality, built into the products that consumers buy and affecting the way people obtain and enjoy movies, music, books, television programs, and other digital content. It is natural that the creators and owners of content are seeking technical locks to protect that content from the piracy that digital networks have made easier than ever. At the same time, those digital locks on content will have a profound effect on how people view, watch, use, and share information - especially through the new and powerful forms of communication offered by computers and the Internet.

The "broadcast flag" - a method for protecting digital television broadcasts - has emerged as one of the first major debates over government mandates for DRM copy protections. As the result of a Federal Communication Commission decision issued in November 2003, starting in July 2005 it will be illegal to manufacture or sell devices that receive over-the-air digital television broadcasts unless those devices include certain copy protection technologies.