STATEMENT OF DTV PILIPINAS REGARDING CONDITIONAL ACCESS
We have observed that the direction of our shift to Digital Terrestrial Television may be compromised with the implementation of exclusive Conditional Access Systems (CAS).
The shift to digital terrestrial TV aims to give viewers the benefits of watching TV with clear audio and video plus the benefit of instant information through datacasting and emergency warning broadcast system.
This also gives broadcasters and content providers the opportunity to offer a diverse range of programming through the use of sub-channels and high-definition broadcasting, and as a way to save operational expenses compared to operating with analog transmission.
However, several broadcasters had taken advantage of the new technology with the inclusion of exclusive CA systems which is used by the Pay TV industry via cable and satellite transmissions.
Its implementation on terrestrial TV can be detrimental to consumers, .especially to low-income families which holds a large share in the free TV market since broadcasters can have the ability of locking their channels to their viewers unless if they opt to buy a network-branded DTT device in order to unlock the channels.
Whenever you encounter a "Channel scrambled", “$”, or similar error message, you are tuning into a channel with Conditional Access."
We have discovered that in all countries that have adopted the ISDB-T standard, the use of exclusive CAS systems is only unique in the Philippines while Japan uses a unified CAS system as a form of Digital Rights Management (DRM) with the intent to protect copyright content for recording using DVR.
Giving people more options are good but forcing people to buy network-branded DTT device for the sake of loyalty is not just irresponsible but also shows that a network isn’t willing to play fair.
Conditional Access System (CAS) is a form of content protection which is implemented by the broadcaster/content provider in order to provide additional channels under a certain condition.
It can be through a form of pay-per-view or exclusive access from specific TV tuners or devices and it can only be unlocked through smartcards or embedded CAS decryption chip.
There are two kinds of conditional access systems.
A. Unified – Under a unified CAS system, this is implemented by a consortium composed of broadcasters. They are responsible for setting up the encryption standards for broadcasters and device manufacturers to comply and they also have the responsibility of setting up accounts and collecting payments.
B. Exclusive – Under an exclusive CAS system, the broadcaster uses a proprietary encryption system that has the capability of locking their own channels and it can only be unlocked if it is viewed through a DTT device that they own.
This is normally implemented by Pay Cable or Satellite TV companies.
We believe that this will result into consumer confusion and the eventual fragmentation of the Digital TV tuner market.
We fear that HD channels may be used as a "Value-added service".
HD (720p/2K) or UHD (4K/8K) programming should be a part of the Filipino TV industry’s progress.
Exclusive conditional access might make sense for cable or satellite TV, but not for terrestrial TV, that’s why we at DTV Pilipinas are against this practice since we believe that no one shall be deprived to enjoy the benefits of Digital TV."
Television is public service. But when it isn’t put into good use, it will soon be a public disservice.