Rookie

Heroes & Icons is DRMed and inaccessible for CableCARD users

Heroes & Icons was added to the lineup of my area's Spectrum service.  It is an over-the-air (broadcast) network run as a sub-channel of KCOP on 13.4, a Los Angeles local TV station. 

 

Rather than add it to the line up in the 1200-1299 block of channels, which is where other broadcast channels are (including KCOP's other subchannels - KCOP D3 "Movies!" is located at channel 1261 and KCOP D2 "Buzzr" is channel 1262), Spectrum has put it on channel 151.  

 

That's the not the problem. The problem is Spectrum has also set the Copy Control encryption to 0x02 - Copy Once, which means once it's been recorded using a CableCARD, it can only be viewed on the device it's been recorded to.  By law, as it is an over-the-air broadcast channel, it is required to be designated "copy freely", and by setting it as anything other than that, Spectrum is in violation of FCC code.

 

cable providers are not permitted to apply copy protection to broadcast channels, even if they encrypt those channels and require a CableCARD to receive them ("access control").

47 CFR 76.1904 - Encoding rules for defined business models.

  • (a) Commercial audiovisual content delivered as unencrypted broadcast television shall not be encoded so as to prevent or limit copying thereof by covered products or, to constrain the resolution of the image when output from a covered product.

47 CFR 76.1902 - Definitions.

  •  (s) Unencrypted broadcast television means any service, program, or schedule or group of programs, that is a substantially simultaneous retransmission of a broadcast transmission (i.e., an over-the-air transmission for reception by the general public using radio frequencies allocated for that purpose) that is made by a terrestrial television broadcast station located within the country or territory in which the entity retransmitting such broadcast transmission also is located, where such broadcast transmission is not subject to a commercially-adopted access control method (e.g., is broadcast in the clear to members of the public receiving such broadcasts), regardless of whether such entity subjects such retransmission to an access control method. 

Page 30 of the FCC Plug and Play ruling also states that MVPDs must not impose any copy restructions for unencrypted broadcast television.

 

I called Spectrum on 6th March 2018 and spoke to about 3 people who had no idea what I was talking about. Eventually I spoke to a man who was helpful but didn't know how to help, and that he would speak to his supervisor. But I never heard back from Spectrum. Three months later and the channel is still copy protected.

6 REPLIES
Trusted Helper

Re: Heroes & Icons is DRMed and inaccessible for CableCARD users

Hi,

 

This may sound like a cop-out, but its true.  With the move to all digital platforms, and to reduce cable theft, and reliability problems with Cable Cards, all providers are moving away from them and requiring company cable box rentals.

 

You will need to rent a cable box from Spectrum, subscribe to the level of service on which Heroes and Icons resides (H&I) and if you want to record H & I, get a DVR.  Than, at least you could record that channel and any other shows that you wanted in your package with no copyright issues described above.

 

Did not know that Hero's and Icons was offered as a digital sub channel.  If you bi-passed Spectrum you would need an antenna to watch and your own DVR recording device such as a TIVO.  Or  may want to also check online for services such as Sling TV  or You Tube TV. for Heroes and Icons and consider those options as well.  Cost is very reasonable and they add new channels all the time.  Do you have Internet service from Spectrum?

 

The point being is that Cable Cards are becoming less and less reliable,  CSR's from Cable, Dish, and U-Verse are not well-trained in third party hardware like that, because they can't support a product that isn't there's.  I would seriously look for other options than cable cards.

 

Satch

Rookie

Re: Heroes & Icons is DRMed and inaccessible for CableCARD users

Providers may like to move away from them, but the FCC has instructed them that they have to offer them, it's not a "maybe we will, maybe we won't, maybe we'll stop supporting them in the future", they don't really have a choice.

 

I do not need to rent a cable box or get a DVR. Me paying for multiple digital DVR boxes, the DVR service and whatever else I need - probably a $200 tech install - to receive one over-the-air channel isn't an option, and a poor suggestion.  One of the reasons they have to offer CableCARDs is so customers can choose not to get all their equipment and pay their extortionate fees. 

 

And the fact that the channel is an over-the-air one, means they have to provide it freely. So TWC/Spectrum has to, by law, reset the flag on the channel. Did you even read the sections of the code I provided? It's black and white what they must do. There's no ifs, buts or maybes about it.  Me getting their equipment does not address that, it bypasses it.  The flag is still set incorrectly and illegally.  I see you are a trusted helper, but unless Spectrum sets the flag correctly, there is nothing you can suggest that will help, and if they do set the flag correctly, your help will be unnecessary.

 

I'll wait for a comment from an official Spectrum representative, who can either help to resolve it or escalate it towards the folk that can, thanks.

Spectrum Employee

Re: Heroes & Icons is DRMed and inaccessible for CableCARD users

(a) Commercial audiovisual content delivered as unencrypted broadcast television shall not be encoded so as to prevent or limit copying thereof by covered products or, to constrain the resolution of the image when output from a covered product.

 

Seems to me that once it's beencrypted digital transmission over coax it ceases to be "delivered as unencryped broadcast television". Similar to how major syndicates charge a "broadcast fee" to transmit local channels that are supposed to be free over the air or "public access", only because they are being transmitted over the cable network instead.

Rookie

Re: Heroes & Icons is DRMed and inaccessible for CableCARD users

I don't know what it is you are trying to say. Spectrum is encrypting the transmission. That's my complaint. They are not allowed. It is a broadcast channel, just like ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and PBS are. Just as they must be delivered unencrypted, whether they are been delivered digitally or otherwise -- and theose are unencrypted -- so too must the OTA broadcast subchannels, of which H&I is one.

I provided what the FCC defines as "unencrypted broadcast television":

Unencrypted broadcast television means any service, program, or schedule or group of programs, that is a substantially simultaneous retransmission of a broadcast transmission (i.e., an over-the-air transmission for reception by the general public using radio frequencies allocated for that purpose) that is made by a terrestrial television broadcast station [...] where such broadcast transmission is not subject to a commercially-adopted access control method (e.g., is broadcast in the clear to members of the public receiving such broadcasts), regardless of whether such entity subjects such retransmission to an access control method.

Spectrum Employee

Re: Heroes & Icons is DRMed and inaccessible for CableCARD users

But what you posted didn't say they couldn't encrypt unencrypted broadcasts: it just says they can't restrict your usage of unencrypted broadcasts.

But all channels on their digital signal are encrypted. And they are explicitly allowed to encrypt anything carried over their network.

https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/cable-system-encryption

"Cable operators with all-digital systems may encrypt their services." The article then goes on to explicitly mention the encryption of broadcast-only television services.

Not applicable

Re: Heroes & Icons is DRMed and inaccessible for CableCARD users

Does anyone know what's going on with Heroes and Icons Channel on Spectrum?

 

They added it in my area on 6/4/18 on Channel 142. It's broadcast over-the-air here on 55.4.

 

On 55.4, it's broadcast in the intended aspect ratio from the Weigel network headquarters in Chicago. However, Spectrum is showing it with a squished aspect ratio. Programming that H&I is broadcasting in 4:3(1.33:1) from their headquarters and properly broadcast by 55.4 in 4:3-is being shown by Spectrum in some horizontally squished ratio like 1.0:1. It reminds me of one of those very thin cell phone videos you see in a news broadcast. Instead of the normal black bars you see in 4:3 on a widescreen TV, these are twice as thick. Yet, you switch back to the antenna feed of the same exact local network that Spectrum is broadcasting, and it's correct.

 

In addition, programming broadcast by Heroes and Icons in their unfortunate 14:9 ratio and correctly rebroadcast by 55.4 in the same 14:9-is shown by Spectrum in a squished 4:3 ratio.

 

I've contacted Spectrum on 6/13 and they acknowledged the issue and did nothing. I contacted the local channel that broadcasts 55.4 H&I and they spotted the problem too.

 

Yet it hasn't been fixed! What's going on Spectrum?