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14 June 2010, 15:55

Freeview HD to have encrypted EPG

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OFCOM has announced that the BBC's plan to encrypt the electronic programme guide of the Freeview HD service will be allowed, which has irked open source developers who create applications to decode TV. Under the plan, the EPG will be encrypted and Freeview set top box and PVR makers will be able to licence the necessary Huffman tables, royalty free, providing that they agree to implement content restrictions. The move to an encrypted EPG is designed to assure content providers that there is a mechanism for restricting the copying and archiving of broadcast programming.

The regulator acknowledged a "large number of individual responses to the Consultation" were concerned that open source software developers would be unable to implement software to decode the EPG but said "We do not fully share this view" saying such restrictions will have "a negligible impact on the mass market". OFCOM have apparently made the decision based on open source as used by manufacturers and not taken into account the possibility that an open source developer might create software for their desktop computer which would make use of the EPG data.

However, the programmes will, as originally proposed, still be transmitted un-encrypted, so open source developers can still record the programming by using third party EPG data available over the internet. This would, however, lack the rapid updating and series link data contained in the Freeview HD EPG. OFCOM did note that there would be no content restriction of standard definition (SD) broadcasts.

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