Microsoft: It's Not The Broadcast Flag, It's A Different Flag

from the well,-that-makes...-um...-no-difference-at-all dept

After certain NBC TV shows wouldn’t record on Microsoft’s Vista Media Center a few weeks ago, Microsoft admitted that Media Center includes broadcast flag technology, while NBC Universal admitted that it accidentally set the flag. However, now Microsoft is trying to clarify, claiming that it’s not actually the broadcast flag that it included, but an entirely different flag, called CGMS-A. NBC Universal concurs, saying that the mistake it made was in setting the CGMS-A flag. Of course… the real question is why does this matter at all? If the impact is identical (Microsoft willing to let TV networks declare a show un-recordable), then what does it matter which annoying copy protection scheme is used?

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Companies: microsoft, nbc universal

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Comments on “Microsoft: It's Not The Broadcast Flag, It's A Different Flag”

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some old guy says:

Whats in a name?

The “broadcast flag” is a very well defined entity. They are acting perfectly appropriate to ratify their statement to correct the terminology.

Sure, that doesn’t excuse them for acting in a very stupid manner (including the technology in the media center, and for “accidently my arse” turning it on).

But you can’t make fun of them for correcting a minor technicality.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Whats in a name?

Yeah, it’s not the broadcast flag, it’s just a broadcast flag. It apprantly wasn’t the digital broadcast flag that was set, but the analog one. Yeah, that makes all the difference…

This actually makes things worse. Rather than accidentally activating a flag that should never be activated and may be taken out of software in the future, it was one that was deliberately there and will remain present.

“But you can’t make fun of them for correcting a minor technicality.”

I can, because it just reinforces me belief that I never, ever buy any device or software built on this OS (Vista Media Center). Once again, in “protecting” the content, they’ve guaranteed that they and their partners will never get my money.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:


And people wonder why I am so against Vista when I don’t already have my TV fully hooked up to the PC.
It is because of crap like this.
I will never support an OS that supports limiting me in such ways with things it should have NO say in.
Not to mention this is just more crap that adds to tons more bloatware in the system that should never have been there in the first place. Stupid stupid microsoft.

Kaz says:

Mac huh?

So how do you record TV shows on a Mac? Oh right, it doesn’t have DVR functionality. Ohh, you want me to buy it a week after it airs on ITunes in standard def, where as you can record it over the air in HD on Media Center for FREE — and Media Center 2005 is great, no broadcast flag or whatever they call it. It is almost as if Microsoft doesn’t want any one to buy Vista. But please, Mac? They don’t even compete in the DVR space at all.

Thermionic Valve says:

Defacto Digital

Take closed captioning for example…
Whenever a device telegraphs a signal to another
device which then decodes the signal and
presents the data as a set of internally generated
characters, that to me is digital, regardless of the
general nature of the transmission link.
Go get the black and white TV set out of the attic or
kid’s room, hook it up to a decent antenna before the
big digital switch, and tweak the vertical height
until you can see the top and bottom of the WHOLE
video image (in a news anchor fattening letterbox style).
Certain knobs labled vert line, Vert sublibe, etc.
control more subtle aspects of the top and bottom of the
picture, and only appear on very old B&W
(and a few early color)TV sets.

Adjust the picture for your local analog TV broadcasts,
so that you expose the blanking pulse (mostly at the
top) and bottom of the TV screen.

If you have done this correctly you should see the
closed cationing as a series of white dashes rapidly
blinking on a black background at the top of the screen.
You may have to adjust the contrast and brightness to
bring up the features of this area. You may even see the
edge of the vertical synch bar…. (and various station
specific doodads) {Disney home video appears as a
portion of bright white checkerboard at the top, I am
assuming that this is macrovision or similar}
The point is that the captioning is not actually spelling out
words on the screen analogly, it is sending instructions to
the set to generate words using a character set in the TV.
I don’t see that that is all that different from Dialup.
your modem makes a crumbling, hissing noise to send
data, similar deal. So use of a flag encoded in all those
dots and dashes at the top of the screen is nothing new.
Digital data sent somewhere analogly is an old trick.
We’ll have to figure out how to make our recording devices
out of discrete components, then written instructions on
“how to” will make DMCA run head to head with the
First Amendment, and there will be a long messy
supreme court battle….

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