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Ambition vs. Feasibility
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Ambition vs. Feasibility

DCAS in danger of running into a dead end if the legal questions remain unanswered

By their nature, system changes are always faced with immense challenges extending over a number of levels. There is often a risk of getting bogged down in turf wars without ever laying a solid foundation. Core questions should always be asked at the beginning – and DCAS is no exception.

It is an open secret that advertising alone is less and less capable of securing the refinancing of TV content in its broadest sense. A number of studies and experts are in agreement on this point. This trend is demonstrated as well in the increasing numbers and growing success of pay-per-view and video-on-demand services such as iTunes, maxdome, or Lovefilm. Part of the international effort expended to realize digitalization has gone into firmly establishing the business model of pay TV: content providers sell their content to closed user groups, which means that unless you pay, you don’t get to see the content.

As simple as it may sound, the task of securing this content technologically is actually highly complex. “End customers themselves have absolutely no interest in stopping hackers!” comments Holger Ippach, SVP Northern, Central, and Eastern Europe for Nagra. “Yet, on the other hand, an absolutely secure system is the fundamental requirement and motivation of the business model behind pay TV.” A look at the market for access to content based on the fulfillment of certain conditions (conditional access system, CAS) reveals that both large and small providers generally make similar use of self-contained or proprietary systems comprising a number of levels and containing elements such as middleware, encryption systems, and certified end devices.

From the viewpoint of the German Federal Network Agency (BNetzA), this has created a problem field entailing hindrances to both the competition among the CA systems and to consumers’ freedom of choice. This prompted the initiation of the “Aktionsbündnis verbraucherfreundliche Endgeräte für horizontale Märkte – Austauschabare CA/DRM Systeme” (Action Pact Consumer-Friendly End Devices for Horizontal Markets – Interchangeable CA/DRM Systems) in December 2010. As was described in the DMR article “Towards perceived Simplicity” (03/2011), 15 large international market players are at the  head of this alliance whose members represent a broad range of sectors from industry and media policies. “The Action Pact has set itself the goal of raising the level of competition at the interface to the consumers.”, states Rudolf Boll, press secretary of the BNetzA. No easy task, as the BNetzA itself knows, admitting: “The factors motivating these market players are manifold. For example, one interest group focuses primarily on the cost development and reduction of lock-in effects which come with the increase in competition, but others see an opportunity to expand their market share by implementing this solution concept.”

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