[mythtv-users] ATSC3 - Hearst stations turning on encryption

Gary Buhrmaster gary.buhrmaster at gmail.com
Tue Feb 21 18:35:36 UTC 2023

On Mon, Feb 20, 2023 at 8:05 PM Ian Evans <dheianevans at gmail.com> wrote:
> A big picture/future question here. I'm a Canadian so I'm not up on
> the FCC rules but thought the main licensed channel (eg ABC, CBS, FOX,
> NBC, PBS) had to be carried in the open.

It is (very very) complicated and has been discussed
in the list in the past, but with digital broadcasting and
sub-channels almost any channel can be designated
as the "main" channel for purposes of meeting the FCC
requirements to maintain its broadcast license (as long
as it serves the public good, which is a different kettle
of worms).  And, of course, with almost all (two exceptions
known, and I think one may have lost a partial waiver)
being lighthouse stations, pretty much all the stations
which have broadcast network affiliations are sharing
the same transmitter, so almost all are secondary.

> Anyway, it looks like Hearst owned stations in Orlando and Tampa have
> turned on encryption on their ATSC3 signals.

Quite honestly, I expected a lot more stations would
have at least experimented with protected path required
content during their initial testing phases (as being
able to understand the issues is going to be important
moving forward whether or not they eventually decide
to make some content protected).  For example, it
turns out that a major TV manufacturer's firmware
did not work, and required an update, but that was
not seen until recently because no one had tried it.

> Silicondust says their
> hardware/software will be able to handle it, but I think the
> suggestion was the licensing would effectively end third party access
> for software like MythTV.

Only solutions that implement and obtain
certification as supporting a protected content
path will work (in ATSC 3.0 terms, that is A3SA).
In practice open source products are not going
to work directly in that environment any more
than they can record protected path required
cable channels, which have essentially the same
overall requirement (given that many stations
may eventually simulcast their content over the
internet in addition to OTA, for coverage reasons,
things may get interesting, but I sort of expect
a widevine L1 requirement if/when some
stations try that if they also require a protected
content path).

> I know the ATSC 2.0 signals are still around

ATSC 2.0 never happened (although some of
the ideas were integrated into nextgen TV) there
is only ATSC 1.0, and now ATSC 3.0.  It is
expected ATSC 1.0 will be around for an
extended period, as the FCC has no deadlines,
only minimum allowed times as to when ATSC
1.0 must still be transmitted (which is at least
5 years, but in practice is going to be a lot
longer (probably at least a decade), although
perhaps as a reverse lighthouse).

> but is it safe to assume
> that years down the line the corps will freeze out the open source OTA
> DVR crowdt?

As mentioned previously, it is complicated, but
some content may likely stay accessible, and
some content may not.  And it might even
depend on resolution (it is possible to let people
view "SD"/"HD" quality and require a license and
protected content path for "QHD"/"UHD"/"4K"
quality (should any of that ever exist)).

Whether any OTA content will be worth recording
(as many/most content owners are moving to a
paid, or (unskipable) ad supported, streaming
model for any of their more premium content)
is a different matter.  There are some who think
the networks will be essentially gone in something
over a decade, as the next set of major sport
league contracts will almost certainly not
include network exclusivity, and that is one
of their primary known hooks on viewers.  And
given the increasing costs of scripted TV, and
that the advertisers are paying less and less as
viewer numbers go down and as people skip the
ads[0], it is likely that reality programming will
eventually dominate.  It is not at all clear if there
are enough people who need to watch how Gordon
Ramsey will humiliate contestants this week to
sustain a network schedule.  At least one network
said the quiet part out loud and suggested a first
pullback and cutting a third of their content hours
soon (others have unofficially talked the same),
although they eventually pulled back on the
suggestion (but what is old will be new again).

[0] Did Autohop, TiVo, and other ad-skipping solutions
kill the OTA ad supported revenue model?  Discuss!

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