New Yorkers For Fair Use

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*** 2003/10/14 ***

FCC to Place Restrictions on How Americans Watch Television

Send a fax to the FCC to let them know where you stand on the "broadcast flag" issue. Now is not the time to be a couch potato--in just days, the Federal Communications Commission will make a decision that may place new restrictions on how you are able to watch television. At the urging of large movie studios, the FCC is considering mandating use of a "broadcast flag" that the studios claim will only prevent piracy of high definition television programs over the Internet.

Unfortunately, the flag will do much more than that, including preventing activities that consumers have taken for granted for years. Plain and simple, the broadcast flag is an attempt by Hollywood not only to control what you watch, but how, when and where you watch it.

If the FCC adopts the broadcast flag, this is what you will loose:

  • Portability. In a recent Senate hearing, Motion Picture Association of America President Jack Valenti admitted that the broadcast flag may prevent you from taking a television show that you recorded in your living room to your bedroom or to a friend's house. You'd be prevented from doing reasonable things that consumers do regularly today, such as taking a segment showing your daughter on the evening news to watch at your mother's house.

  • The Fun and Flexibility of Computers. More and more, people are using computers and digital devices other than television sets to watch television programs. This practice shouldn't end when the country finally transitions to digital television. But the flag will prevent acts that we now take for granted, like using a computer to watch television shows on a plane, or sending a clip of a televised high school football game to family and friends.

  • New, Innovative Products that Consumers Enjoy. Computers have and "open architecture" that allows anyone to create new products that consumers can use to view, modify and create content in exciting ways. The broadcast flag would stifle this kind of innovation, which brought you products like: TiVo, ReplayTV, Microsoft Windows Media Center Edition and EyeTV.

Most of us assumed that as our television becomes more "digital", consumers would be able to to more with television programming, not less. Hollywood and the FCC seem to have other ideas. Tell the FCC now that it should be you, and not Hollywood, that should be able to control your television set, your computer and the programming that appears over the public airwaves.

Take Action

Follow this link and fill in the form to send the FCC commisioners an email telling them how you feel!

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