Ofcom blocks BBC's Freeview HD DRM plans

The BBC's plans for using digital rights management to prevent unauthorised usage of material broadcast on the coming Freeview HD service have been blocked by industry regulator Ofcom. The BBC had planned to let people freely record standard-definition content, with added restrictions for high-definition broadcasts.

The introduction of DRM to the Freeview HD service, which is expected to launch this December, was designed as an anti-piracy measure, with the British broadcaster worried about unauthorised redistribution of high-definition content. Despite BBC claims of it being "invisible" to the end user, it still raised questions, according to TechRadar.

In a statement explaining the decision, Ofcom said, "Ofcom received a large number of responses to this consultation, in particular from consumers and consumer groups, who raised a number of potentially significant consumer 'fair use' and competition issues that were not addressed in our original consultation."

Editor of What Satellite and Digital TV, Alex Lane, told TechRadar about the decision. "It's good to see Ofcom listening to a consumer-lead campaign, and maybe we can now have a mature debate about DRM," he said. "I just hope it doesn't backfire and cause problems for Freeview HD supplying the best content."

The BBC told TechRadar that "it remains committed to the launch of HD on Freeview as it will deliver choice in terms of platform and availability of HD content for audiences across the UK."

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The reason for OFCOM blocking DRM usage by BBC *domestically* (this doesn't, and shouldn't, apply to any BBC services outside the UK) is a matter of *philosophical law*, not the rule of law. The philosophical point behind OFCOM's ruling is part of the same philosophy which tongue-ties bureaucrats criticizing a bureaucracy: don't bite, in any way/shape/form, the *hand* that feeds you. (Basically in Euro-speak, "Toe the party line, or else! Strong message follows."). It is actually the polar opposite of the "Hatch Act" within the United States, which bars partisan political activity by government employees as such, as it bars "opposing-viewpoint" activity by government employees as such. (Why do you think anti-NHS comments by doctors in the UK have largely been "rolled back"?)

The BBC is government-run (not necessarily "owned" in a pure sense, because of their non-UK/non-Commonwealth operations); therefore, according to most of the community comments (which OFCOM cited), the use of any rights-enforcement mechanism flies in the face of the mission of the British Broadcasting Corporation within the United Kingdom. OFCOM's ruling could basically be construed as a blanket ban on DRM use by the BBC domestically.

Why not add DRM then remove the license fee? Everyone who loves BBC can then pay a subscription to watch the same boring ex Eastenders and One Foot In The Grave actors appear as countless different characters in every new show that is made.

I shall choose not to subscribe and shall spend my money on tins of paint so I can watch it dry and get the same feeling I do from BBC whilst also decorating my home.

If you can "RECEIVE A BROATCASTING SIGNAL" or you get Sky you get the BBC channels so you should pay license fee anyway.

You could argue that you don't watch them but the fact is they are the most popular channels on TV so it just sounds like you are simply looking to avoid paying. Also you pay for channels on sky that are included in a package that you may not watch (Sky Arts for example) and you can't ask Sky to stop charging for them individually.

BBC rules of engagement so quoted to my via the telephone licensing

bureau, are, if you have a device that can receive TV signals, you gotta

cough up if you watch the BBC or not.

Though a man a few years ago, did win a case against them when he

proved he only used his TV for video games and watching VHS cassette

tapes.

The TV Licencing is only to be able to recieve LIVE TV broadcasts through any means. So this could be live tv over the internet, or the live tv available on the BBC =] but the man was right he does not have to pay for a tv licence just to be able to play games or watch VHS/DVD/Blu-ray.

It doesn't matter if your device can recieve tv signals or not, you just have to tell them you are not going to use it for it, and do something else i can't remember if its as simple as detuning your tv or actually having to get the tuner part removed.

Why are the BBC doing this anyway, most people are against DRM and do not like it because most of the time it is intrusive and requires updates to be sent out to get it right. At the moment you can record BBC HD on FreeSAT providing you have the equipment to do so, why make it harder for FreeView viewers.

The BBC also get money from the government I believe.
But they also waste a lot of the money they do get. . .

You must remember, while the BBC are heavily involved in such matters, you need a licence if you can RECEIVE A BROATCASTING SIGNAL. So even if you do not get the BBC Channels, or only watch Sky, you still need the licence.

Although you only need a license if you have TV receiving equiptment, in the past a radio license was required if you had radio recieving equiptment. (a TV license included the radio license).

The only reason they scrapped the above was to make it simpler as most people have a TV nowadays and its a simple check. Rather than running around with licenses for 10 different things as the BBC offer far more than TV.

You may not watch BBC but you probably use something else they provide. Having TV receiving equipment it the requirement for a TV license, in no way does it suggest that the TV license only pays for BBC TV channels. The TV license also helps pay for:

- Channel 4 is also indirectly funded through the licence.
- BBC Radio stations
- BBC website and iPlayer
- Digital Switchover (the way many people watch loads of other channels even if they do not watch BBC)

You can use the website and listen to radio without a license, but the suggestion that things should be changed so that those who do not watch BBC should not pay a license is silly. Things would be difficult to prove and nonsense - if you only make those who watch BBC channels pay for a TV license, this would ultimately result in a separate license for those only listening to radio, and another for those using digital but not BBC, lets have another and a login for the website, oh and Channel 4 would lose their current cut so you would have to pay for that.

There is only a small group of people who would benefit from amending the TV license. Okay so 2/3rds of the license covers the cost of the TV channels, but lets say you have a "digital license", the TV licenses becomes £12 a year cheaper (the amount of your license spent on digital switchover), and a new license is created that costs more than £12 extra because of admin fees - this would p*** off most of the population, as they would be paying more just because of excessive admin. At the moment its a sensible balance.

mmck said,
Although you only need a license if you have TV receiving equiptment, in the past a radio license was required if you had radio recieving equiptment. (a TV license included the radio license).


I sense you work for TV licensing. Because your wording is as cleverly crafted as it is on their ridiculous enforcement letters.

You DO NOT need a license if you merely own equipment capable of receiving a TV signal.

You DO need one IF you have equipment capable of receiving a TV signal AND use it to receive a TV signal as it is being broadcast i.e. not for pre recorded content such as that served by iPlayer. You also need a license to watch TV on the internet if it is being watched as it is being broadcast such as live news bulletins, football or anything else that is being broadcast on TV at the same time as streamed over the net.

leesmithg said,
I already pay for the BBC to exist, so what they produce I also own a piece of, so if I want to save it then so be it.


Well said!

Webworldx said,
Do you hold BBC shares or do you rather just pay for a licence to access the content?

The BBC is funded entirely by the annual license fee. Ergo, he does, like any other license-paying viewer, have a stake in what the BBC produces.

Put it another way; if we all stopped paying the license fee, it wouldn't just be our right to access BBC programmes that ceased to exist. The BBC could not actually produce programmes without our money as that is where its funding comes from.

SniperX said,
The BBC is funded entirely by the annual license fee. Ergo, he does, like any other license-paying viewer, have a stake in what the BBC produces.

It is incorrect that the BBC is funded entirely by license fee payers. It has a commercial arm called BBC Worldwide, BBC World channel has advertisements from which BBC receives revenue, a BBC America (+HD) channels in the USA receive contributions from satellite/cable operators and also show advertisements. So it's fundamentally wrong to say that the BBC is funded entirely by licence fee payers. Please get your facts right, thank you.

SniperX said,
The BBC is funded entirely by the annual license fee. Ergo, he does, like any other license-paying viewer, have a stake in what the BBC produces.

Put it another way; if we all stopped paying the license fee, it wouldn't just be our right to access BBC programmes that ceased to exist. The BBC could not actually produce programmes without our money as that is where its funding comes from.

BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, actually help fund a lot of the programme making on the BBC. So to say that if the license payers stopped paying, the BBC couldn't produce programmes is fundamentally, wrong. I think if they wanted to they could probably produce a business model to self fund without the license fee, that obviously involves work and they prefer their current easily obtained revenue stream.

So technically, not everything is paid for by the license viewer...

You don't own anything, the BBC license fee sets out what you get in exchange for your fee.

Your arguement is about as silly as me saying "I pay BT for a phone line, they use the money to provide the service, therefore I own part of the service and can do what I want."

mmck said,
You don't own anything, the BBC license fee sets out what you get in exchange for your fee.

Your arguement is about as silly as me saying "I pay BT for a phone line, they use the money to provide the service, therefore I own part of the service and can do what I want."

Works for me