back to article Ofcom balks at Beeb's HD DRM dream

Ofcom has told the BBC it will not allow the broadcaster to mandate DRM on HD, at least not yet, following overwhelming response to its two-week consultation. The regulator has written to the BBC (pdf) explaining that before it will permit the Beeb's encoding of programme information, it wants to know more about the " …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. eJ2095

    Slighty off topic this

    As we al know we not keen on the Beebs License..

    So surly when we all go digital they can then encrypt the sodding bbc channels so that the user has a choice to view them.. If they do they can pay the license and get the channel.

  2. Arnold Lieberman

    HTPC Hell

    Think I'll stick with satellite and keep my existing DVB-T sticks for SD backup.

  3. Owen Williams


    It better work with MythTV or I'm going to ask for some money back.

  4. Jacqui

    No BBC

    I would *love* a non BBC set top box!

    I would also hope this would be BBC (TVL/Capita) tax free?

    IMHO the BBC are just shooting themselves in the foot here...

    Jacqui "No Tv" Caren

  5. The BigYin


    Two things:

    1) I have yet to see any benefit to HD. Who the hell wants to pay for a new TV that consumes more power and yet fails to deliver a better picture than your current set*. I not that no shops EVER have a side-by-side comparison of a movie SD playing on a SD TV and an HD version on an HD telly.

    All they have are the split-screen fake-ups as and they were made by the manufacturers....I wouldn't trust them.

    2) DRM...are you feckin' kidding me? I have already paid for BBC content via my TV Tax (license fee). If I want to tape it and copy it around for my own personal use, then that is my choice. It has been paid for. You can go and shove your DRM up yer arse.

    If I start distributing said content to all and sundry (possibly even charging for it) then I believe there are laws against that. I can be found, charged, brought before a judge and they can state their case with evidence to back it up. Not that I am about to start doing this.

    DRM is the presumption of guilt and has no place in a modern democracy.

    *Well, me; seems our old (free, second-hand) telly is on the way out.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Thank goodness

    The beeb's own techies didn't want to do this, it was something of a clusterfuck political move agreed between spineless management and bullying rights holders. Amazing that OFCOM actually had the cojones to regulate something for the good of the consumer and not be bought off, for once, too.

    Anon (for obvious reasons)

  7. Stef 4

    @ The BigYin

    "I not that no shops EVER have a side-by-side comparison of a movie SD playing on a SD TV and an HD version on an HD telly."

    I congratulate you on having visited every shop in the world. I can only assume that they had put up the displays that I have seen after you had visited the stores. Perhaps you should phone ahead next time?

    I remember similar comments about VHS vs DVD when DVD was released.

    I have a 42 inch plasma, and the difference between HD and regular content is easily apparent (in the case of bluray vs dvd). The difference on TV programs is less noticeable however (They been filming TV in 720?). But the last Dr Who was clearly better quality in HD. I have yet to work out why they showed Shooting Stars in HD, unless they thought it would be a quick and easy way to fill HD content.

    A quick comparison of Planet Earth on Blueray then DVD will easily show the difference in quality. I cannot comment on the quality of the original HD broadcast though, as I didn't have an HD box at the time.

  8. jubtastic1

    Re: Eh?

    If you can't tell the difference between a 1080HD movie and the same movie in SD it's probably time to get a new pair of glasses.

  9. spegru

    Danger Danger (Will Robinson)

    Once the BBC start implementing DRM or similar, it's a slippery slope to PayTV, the end of the Licence Fee revenue stream and the end of the BBC as we know it.

    Next we'll be getting our programmes - sorry content, direct from HBC whatever.

    On the other hand maybe that's not a bad idea!

  10. mittfh

    Why DRM?

    The BBC doesn't just show BBC stuff - it shows stuff made by other companies. However, these other companies don't want people recording their HD programmes, and want to use DRM to stop people doing so. It's almost certainly an issue likely to affect any other broadcasters wanting to offer HD content over Freeview.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Valid BBC argument

    The point the BBC are making - very badly - is that if they buy 3rd party content (e.g. Heroes) then the supplier may only permit HD broadcast if it's encrypted. As the BBC transmit on Freesat, I think it's a little late for that argument though...

  12. Anonymous Coward

    If the BBC wants DRM...

    ....then it has to give up the license fee. Simple as that.

    I'm sick of hearing about "third party" bullshit.

    As an example - what happened with the venerable "Only Fools and Horses" series? Oh that's right, despite being 100% funded by license payers the BBC shifted it over to BBC Worldwide (Commercial arm of BBC) and then did a deal whereby it would never be shown on the UK terrestrial BBC channels again.

    If we PAID for programmes to be made then the BBC luvvies can cram their DRM up their arse.


    Otherwise no license fee.


    Same Old Same Old

    The 'rights holders' didn't want anyone recording their stuff in Standard Definition either - when VHS video recorders came out.

    It's the same old story.

    HD content will become the norm and everyday as SD content is/was. These copyright cartels should have no say in the prevention of timeshifting and watching recorded TV as we see fit. That it's digital is irrelevant. Piracy will occur regardless of any DRM and the 'protection measures' will only disadvantage and inconvenience people who want to do regular stuff with their favourite telly programmes.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    What's the point of HD?

    I had an amusing and illustrative incident at a friend's house. He has a 54" plasma state-of-the-art TV and we were watching a programme about Monet and he said to me that this was exactly the sort of thing he bought the HD TV for - imagine watching this on SD on such a large screen!

    I pointed out that we *were* watching it on SD upscaled as it was a normal BBC 1Freeview programme. After much huffing and puffing and switching over to actual HD programmes he had to admit that the difference was basically invisible.

    The real problem with Freeview is the low bitrate of most of the channels. Get a BBC 1 programme when the bitrate is up full and HD becomes a very dubious proposition indeed.

    In return for an increase in resolution of a shade over x2 (not a shade under x5 as manufacturers claim) we're looking down the barrel of some heavy DRM shite with "no record" and "replay once" flags. That's not a fair trade in my book.

    Just scrape all the garbage QVC-type channels and give use 5 or 6 channels with decent bitrates and decent content and stick your HD DRM where the sun don't shine.

  15. the spectacularly refined chap

    Don't need to pander to rights holders

    Freeview is the leading digital platform buy a significant margin. Put simply rights holders can't afford to ignore it. If they go for satellite only channels they restrict their market and lose money as a result. If the rights owners basically have to go with Freeview, like it or not, so I see no reason to pander to their whims.

  16. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    VHS vs DVD, HD vs SD

    "I remember similar comments about VHS vs DVD when DVD was released."

    In that case the arguments were valid though. A good VHS movie looks very sharp, I had a friend comment on how nice a Star Wars DVD looked... "Umm, no, this is the THX VHS edition." ".....Oh." A good DVD of course also looks good. But, many DVDs are not well mastered and pixelate during scene transitions, when there's a brick background, etc. On average I think VHS was slightly better (the slightly sharper picture ON GOOD SECENEs of the DVD was more than made up for by it turning into a blocky mess at other times.) Not enough that I'm obsessing over it and collecting old DVDs, but really DVD quality was hyped far more than the reality.

    I'm not going to make the same argument for HD though -- it's sharper, and at least here in the states they dump PLENTY of bitrate into it so there's not pixelation. (I mean, I've seen a little, but it'll either be from my reception dropping out for a moment (I'm like 70 miles from my stations), or some local ads where they apparently cheaped out on the bitrate.). I wish they had used MPEG4 instead of the antiquated MPEG2, I have mythtv cutting the size of some of my recordings by almost 3/4ths with no quality loss (by converting the MPEG2s to a MPEG4s.) But what are ya gonna do? I do admit to viewing some of it at 640x480 or 640x360 so I can keep it in a window and do other stuff, but I still won't claim HD is useless just because I'm not watching every show in HD.

  17. James 100

    So near...

    If only the BBC were proposing actual conditional access (as in, no viewing card no picture) - then the analogue switchoff could double as the TV License switchoff. No more Capita or threatening letters, no more having to pay for expensive channels I don't watch, just a free choice of provider at last. The last thing the BBC would ever tolerate of course :(

  18. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Re: Valid BBC argument

    I'm sure that is the point that the 3rd parties are trying to make. However, the BBC's original objection is probably because any fule can (and assuredly the Murdoch press will) come up with the counter-argument that the general public should not then have to pay a licence fee.

    DRM nearly killed Vista. DRM has been cracked on just about every platform it has been deployed on. The music industry is an object lesson in what not to do.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    @Owen - I suspect it will work with mythtv, becuase there are a fair few BBC engineers who are also users/devs of mythtv.

    I'm hoping that HD drivers will start to appear fairly soonish, existing usb sticks should work, as they are just obtaining the datastream and the driver does the hard work.

    I also find it astonishing that every Sonycentre, richer sounds, etc. that I have been in haven't heard of freeview hd, and talk to me like I'm some dumb-ass who doesn't know the difference between freesat and freeview.

  20. Dick Emery

    Simple answer (as above)

    Want BBC HD without DRM? Get Freesat. WTF is going on with this Freeview HD DRM shit? Anyhow as others have mentioned. Maybe it's a good thing. If you cannot view BBC broadcasts because of DRM then you should not have to pay the BBC tax. But you can rest assured that you won't be able to buy a Freeview HD box that excludes the BBC channels because of DRM.

    Again the consumer gets shafted on choice (Or lack thereof).

    You can either buy it or not.

  21. voshkin
    Black Helicopters

    Yep, EPG

    " compress the service information (SI) data on the upgraded multiplex using BBC developed look-up tables. The BBC would make the relevant look-up tables available free of charge to any manufacturer that agrees, via a licence agreement, to implement the D-Book content management arrangements." So yes, Audio and Video streams are still free to air, just the EPG that is "encrypted"

    To me, this means only one thing. The evil evil pirates can capture any content unhindered in any way (as they may do so with freesat already) and it is just the set top box manufactures who have to restrict ability to view the content via HDCP or similar crap.

    So to recap – Chinese DVB-S2 / DVB-T2 USB receiver + large hard drive – capture what you want.

    A law abiding citizen with a non-HDCP tv (or desire to record something to watch later/burn for archival purposes) is screwed.

    So nothing new here then.

  22. Beanzy

    If these 3rd party companies want access to public money..........

    If the BBC can broadcast this 3rd party stuff in SD on their terrestrial networks without DRM then the transition to HD makes no difference to whether they need DRM. If they don't need it in SD there's no reason to introduce it in SD. It's either avaiolable to the viewer or not. Which format it's transmitted in adds nothing to their argument. They're not even going to broadcast it in true HD merely in 720 BBC bodge-vision/ cheap network format. If these 3rd parties want their content sold to the publicly funded BBC, then they do it on the BBCs terms.

    I think the BBC would love to have a DRM managed license hence their enthusiasm for this move. Once DRM boxes are in place then they can move over to a DRM licence card. Howeer this will lead to multiple licenses for single premises so Ofcom need to be alert to the real reasons. Hopefully they'll tell the BBC to go away and tell their 3rd parties to exclude themselves from public money if they want to but ther'll be no DRM on terrestrial.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not DRM...

    As voshkin said, they don't plan on implementing DRM as such - the EPG content will be encrypted, and the only way to decrypt it will be to agree to the licence terms, which means the STB or IDTV will have to honour the content protection signalling - which *may* prevent the user copying the __HD__ content *off* the box to view elswhere.

  24. Citizen Kaned


    @ BigYin

    you cant see the difference? well, if you have poor eyesight and dont wear glasses then you might not see the difference. but the rest of us who bought decent HD TVs can see a massive difference.

    simply flick between espn and espn HD and the difference is MASSIVE. and BBC to BBC HD channel for something like 'life' plus, dont forget that BR movies look amazing compared to their dvd counterparts. of course some titles arent worth the extra - many old films are being released on BR and they simply arent on good enough quality filmstock - for example all the aliens films will be a waste as they arent even DVD quality etc.

    how will DRM work with PVR tech? will it stop me recording programs to my V+ box? if so then EPIC fail. i never watch anything live. always watch it recorded if nothing else to fast forward adverts. and i include the 3 mins of BBC adverst between all its programmes too.

    @ vhs == dv (walter)

    i tend to agree on this too. i had a very high quality VHS player and plenty of films looked better than the DVD versions. mainly due to poor encoding of the DVD. this has got better over time but i still have plenty of dvd movies that arent better quality than VHS.

  25. cannon

    HD vs Standard Def

    @ Stef 4

    i also have a 42" tv and the difference between upscaled dvd & 720p 1080p/i HD source at a 15 foot viewing distance when sat on me sofa is negligible, & imho not worth the upgrade price.

    when you however sit 2 foot away from your screen you can see clearly the better picture but i'm not a kid & i do like to sit on my sofa.

    btw most of the films in HD still suck as much as their dvd counterparts!

  26. Anonymous Coward

    @It's not DRM...

    No STB manufacturer is going to produce a box without an EPG because they will never sell it - it'll be too difficult to program your PVR. So they'll all sign up and DRM will be introduced through the back door. This is the BBC plan. OfCom will, however, fall for it; they never look after the interests of the consumer (or licence fee payer).

    If the BBC sell Only Fools and Horses to BBC Worldwide, and use the money to produce more programmes, then we (license fee payers) are getting the benefit. I don't have a problem with that; we did own the content and we (who own the BBC) sold it on and got the benefit. I just don't like DRM through the back door.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Freesat has DRM too

    Freesat has content management rules too but didn't need to ask Ofcom. See the review of the Panasonic blu-ray on this site.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like