Each time I pick up ScreenPlays Magazine I’m reminded to read it more often. The reporting staff often go deeper than many folks in the broadband industry – digging up fantastic little nuggets that, unfortunately, seem to get passed over by the broader industry and mainstream technology press.
In the April issue (PDF), Fred Dawson cites insider sources who say that Comcast has secured a deal with programmers permitting them to broadcast channels from the analog basic tier digitally… and in the clear for two years. There seems to have been trepidation amongst operators regarding how well digital terminal adapters (DTAs) would fare if they required any kind of content decryption technology. Public discussion has always centered on the fact that DTAs don’t need those decryption capabilities found in ‘regular’ set-tops boxes, freeing them from the FCC’s separable security mandate (i.e. CableCARD).
So the question has been: How would providers broadcast encryption-free content from a licensing perspective? And now we know how it’s all going down. Bottom line: Cablecos have a blessed method to make it easy for consumers to access basic digital content. Another step in migrating analog subscribers to digital service, and ultimately (they hope) to premium tiers with VOD, DVR, and the like.