Copy-protection report issued

Movie studios, software companies and consumer-electronics manufacturers
Tuesday issued what they are calling a final report on how digital-television
programs should be protected from being copied and distributed over the

All of the factions agreed that digital-television programs should be protected
using a "broadcast flag," which is technology that would send a message to
copying devices not to allow unauthorized copying or distribution.

The industries now plan to form a separate policy group to determine what is
needed to implement a copy-protection standard.

"Implementation of this plan is going to allow TV stations to get high-value
content," said Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of
America, although it could be years before the report translates into a
government-approved protection standard.

Although the report is termed "final" by the chairs of the working group that
wrote it, the viewpoints of various companies differ enough that debate over how
digital-television programs will be copy-protected appears to be far from over.

"For a document that's purported to represent a consensus view, there are an
awful lot of dissenting opinions," said Ken Johnson, spokesman for House Energy
and Commerce Committee chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.). "Frankly, we're a little
surprised. We were led to believe that more progress had been made toward
reaching a compromise on this issue. Certainly, it will be a focal point of our
discussions when we hold the next round of digital meetings."

That round is scheduled for June 11, Johnson said, and it will focus on
digital-copyright protection and cable compatibility with digital television.

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.