More Broadcast Flag FUD from the MPAA

May 26, 2005

Dan Glickman, CEO of the MPAA has on his hipboots and is spreading it deep over on CNET with “Why the broadcast flag should go forward”.

Without proper protections, it will be increasingly difficult to show movies, television shows or even baseball games on free television.

Free television? What’s that? I don’t know of any free television.

Let’s see — there’s the stuff I pay for by watching ads and buying products (broadcast TV), there’s the stuff my tax dollars and donations pay for (PBS), there’s the stuff I pay a monthly fee for and still watch ads (basic cable/sat programming), and the stuff I pay for and don’t see ads on (premium cable/sat programming). Oh, and home shopping, infomercials, and tithe-TV.

Nothing free there, unless it’s hiding under a rock.

So what are they saying? Unless we support the Broadcast Flag, the content producers will no longer produce content for advertister-driven broadcast television?

While one could argue that that might be a very small loss anyway, it ain’t happening. If all the MPAA members pick up their bats and balls and go clanking away home, there’ll be a rush of new content producers happy to make advertising money.

Of course, later he says this:

The irony, of course, is that modern cable and satellite delivery systems already have imbedded technical means that maintain the value of digital programming by preventing its redistribution over digital networks. The broadcast flag extends that same protection in the estimated 15 percent of American households that do not subscribe to cable or satellite services but rely instead on over-the-air broadcast television.


Yes, some of the premium content vendors have a “we’d prefer you don’t distribute” flag set in the vertical blanking interval of their content. Just to mix apples and oranges here, that’s SD content, not HD content.

But unless I’ve missed a meeting, there’s not a federal law that says devices have to behave a certain way because of it.

Which is exactly what they’re asking for with the Broadcast Flag.

You know, if indicating content producer’s intentions is enough, then by all means, they should go ahead and add a Broadcast Flag to their content. Let manufacturers decide whether to respect it or not, and let consumers vote with their purchases as to whether they care.

Just don’t ask the government to pass a law granting you more control over what we can do and when we can do it.

The fact is, it ain’t the piracy we’re after (and thank you for treating us as if we all want to steal your crappy content, while we’re at it).

It’s the ability for us to take the content that WE PAID FOR (by cable/sat fees, watching ads, etc.) and watch it on the devices we want to watch it on, when we want to watch it.

It’s the freedom to keep you from telling us that we have to watch this week’s Sopranos within 10 days or you’re going to automatically delete it.

It’s the freedom to dump the season finale for Desperate Housewives to a portable player so we can finish watching it while we’re commuting to work.

Your content isn’t that special, and we aren’t that stupid.

We know that the technology is arriving (and in many cases here) to free us from sitting in front of the boob tube during primetime to watch your content, and we want that freedom, or at least the option to have that freedom.

If you don’t want to give us that freedom, then don’t — go find something else to do, and let someone who isn’t scared of new business models do the job.

(via Thomas Hawk)

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