Jun 12, 2009 | 8
Today marks the deadline for broadcasters throughout the United States to switch their signals from analog to digital, a move that's been debated, decried and delayed by the government, broadcasters and viewers alike.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has heavily promoted the switch to digital TV, with acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps encouraging the move by pointing out that the transition will allow stations to provide more free over-the-air channels than the single channel they've been using under the analog system.
Still, even after Congress delayed the cutover date from February 17 to June 12 in order to give viewers without cable, satellite or digital televisions more time to buy and install a digital converter box, an estimated 2.8 million American households, or 2.5 percent of the television market, are "completely unready" for the transition, according to the Nielsen Company.
May 29, 2009 | 2
With counterfeit pay TV smart cards just a click away on the Internet, pay TV providers are constantly looking for new ways to protect their digital content from theft, particularly as the June 12 deadline to switch signals from analog to digital looms. A team of tech companies believes it's onto something with an approach to security they hope will improve the encryption and decryption of broadcast signals, ensuring that subscribers have access to only the programs they're paying for, and non-subscribers don't get any access at all.
There are several ways to hack into a set top box and steal pay TV, says Dennis Flaharty, chief executive of SypherMedia International, Inc., a Westminster, Calif. company that provides part of this new security technology. One popular approach is to remove a set-top box's smart card (which provides the intelligence needed to decrypt a broadcast signal) and re-program it so that the card decrypts more channels than the subscriber is paying for. Non-subscribers can likewise buy pre-programmed smart cards via black market Web sites and plug them into a generic set-top box to steal content.
Feb 13, 2009 | 2
Some 500 television stations across the country have alerted the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that they plan to switch from analog to digital signals next week, four months shy of the official new deadline. But the FCC has nixed the requests of 123 broadcasters pending proof that viewers won't be left in the dark – specifically that they will still be able to tune into local news and public affairs programming and to receive info in the case of an emergency.
The FCC in a statement said it gave thumbs down to the 123 stations, insisting that "early termination poses a significant risk of substantial public harm" in their viewing areas. The reason: they're all in markets in which all of the network affiliates are asking to switchover early, which would leave viewers without digital TVs, digital-TV converter boxes or cable or satellite service without television service. "Even if independent or non-commercial stations remain on the air in these markets," the FCC said, "we still considered these areas at risk," because they don't have the coverage of the major networks.
Feb 4, 2009 | 2
Just two weeks before a switch to all-digital TV was set to take effect, the House today voted 264 to 158 to delay the move until June 12. This was the second attempt by the Democratic-controlled House to push through the measure, which the Senate easily passed last week (twice) and President Obama has said he will sign into law. Obama and congressional Democrats backed the delay to give some 2.6 million people who still do not have digital TVs time to get $40 vouchers from the feds to subsidize the $50 to $70 cost of converters that will enable them to watch digital programs.
People with digital TVs, who subscribe to digital cable service or have satellite dishes don't have to worry about getting a converter or taking any other steps when the change takes effect. All new televisions sold in the U.S. since March 1, 2007, have been required to have a DTV digital receiver built in.
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