I write to urge you to reject the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking #02-230, which
would limit the functionality of digital television sets. As currently
constructed, this “broadcast flag” proposal would hamper innovation
in digital televisions and other electronic equipment capable of receiving
digital broadcasts.
The broadcast flag proposal before the commission was the product of the
“Broadcast Protection Discussion Group,” an select group of industry
insiders who brokered the deal. It would be unfortunate if the FCC were to
codify this pact at the expense of consumer flexibility and choice.
While piracy is a valid concern, it is not the only issue that should be
considered. Entertainment industry protections must be weighed against
consumers’ freedom to purchase and employ technology to enhance and
utilize content. If enacted, the broadcast flag proposal would ignore these
concerns and turn technological development over to an all-powerful subset of
the entertainment industry.
In recent years, the entertainment industry has become acutely aware of the
challenges it faces in the digital era. But these challenges do not give it the
right to restrict consumers’ abilities to record their favorite programs,
or purchase electronic devices that allow them to record and save memorable
family moments. The market is best suited to address and weigh these competitng
concerns and the FCC should give it time to work - particularly in a nascent
industry like digital television -- before handing over consumer autonomy to
the whims of entertainment industry executives.