Stations under rule to protect studios

Aug 5, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Tossing a digital life preserver to broadcasters, the Federal Communications Commission this week is expected to propose rules clearing the way for Hollywood studios to prevent Internet redistribution of their digital programming, whether it is delivered over cable, satellite or broadcast television stations.
As recently as a year ago, many of the industry’s major players were promoting an Internet copy protection system that would have worked for cable and satellite systems only, leaving broadcasters out. If that system had prevailed, programmers would have had clear incentive to favor cable and satellite with their digital programming.
Extending the protection technology to broadcasting helps level the playing field among the competing transmission systems. Among those credited for promoting a pro-broadcast solution are Preston Padden, The Walt Disney Co. executive VP, worldwide government relations, and Andrew Setos, president of engineering for the Fox Group.
Industry sources said Mr. Padden warrants recognition for sounding the studio alarm about the adverse impact the exclusion of broadcasters from copy protection could have on his company’s TV station properties. He is also credited with pointing out that vulnerability to Viacom and Fox-two other major studios with significant broadcast TV station interests.
“Because there were three major studios with substantial investments in broadcasting, we were unwilling to move into the content-protection future without bringing broadcasters along,” Mr. Padden said.
Mr. Setos is credited with coming up with a way to include the broadcast protection in the industry’s so-called 5 C protection system.
In recent letters, Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., and Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., urged the FCC to include the broadcast protection-the so-called broadcast flag-in the system.
“The flag is critically important to ensure that broadcasters are able to access top quality digital programs,” said David Donovan, president of the Association of Maximum Service Television.