Panel at NAB Will Consider the New World of Open Set-Top Boxes

I’ll be moderating a breakfast panel during the NAB trade show in Las Vegas in mid-April: The FCC’s Open-STB World: What Does It Mean for Content Security?

Back in February, the FCC approved a proposal that will require pay television operators to let users choose their own access devices instead of using the set-top boxes (STBs) that the operators supply.  This will erase the boundaries that exist among operator-supplied STBs, Internet STBs (a la Roku, Apple TV, or Amazon Fire TV), Smart TVs, and apps that run on general-purpose devices.

At this point, the proposal “… simply requires [operators] to offer at least one content protection system that is openly licensed on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.  This will allow each [operator] to determine the content protection systems it deems sufficient to prevent theft and misuse, and will not impede the introduction of new content protection systems.”

In other words, many details of the proposed regulation have yet to be worked out.  Yet it has already caused lots of controversy throughout the industry.  Major tech companies are touting it as a victory for consumer choice and innovation, while pay-TV operators are unhappy over what they see as a government giveaway to companies like Apple and Google; meanwhile, media technology companies and content providers alike are wondering about the implications for content protection and security.

Pay-TV operators have been successful in getting access to premium Hollywood content throughout the history of digital video, in no small part because their interests have been aligned with those of Hollywood studios regarding content protection. Studios want their content protected from piracy; operators want their networks (which carry the content) protected from theft of service.  As a result, content protection technologies for pay TV have some of the strongest security anywhere, and many of today’s techniques for protecting video content on the open Internet are derived from techniques originally designed for pay TV.  Yet if operators lose control of endpoint devices, that alignment of interests could be jeopardized.

We’ll discuss the possibilities, technologies, risks, and opportunities of this FCC ruling regarding content protection on Tuesday April 19 in a breakfast event sponsored by Irdeto, a leading provider of content security solutions.  This will be the only place at NAB this year where you will be able to learn about the potential impact of the FCC ruling on content security and discuss it among experts.  Our panelists will include Dave Belt, Principal Architect of Time Warner Cable; Joe Rice, VP of Media Playback Engineering, MLB Advanced Media; Paul Ragland, VP Americas at Irdeto; and others to be added soon. If you’re interested in attending, please email Katie Walsh at Irdeto; space is very limited.

One comment

  1. […] Source: Panel at NAB Will Consider the New World of Open Set-Top Boxes | Copyright and Technology […]

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