Channels DVR + DRM

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tmm1
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Channels DVR + DRM

Post by tmm1 » Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:03 pm

TL;DR: No, we're not adding support for DRM. But: if you have a PRIME and many of your basic cable channels are DRMd, we may have a solution for you!

Hi everyone. Some of you may recognize me as one of the devs behind the Channels app and Channels DVR. Channels started as a way to improve our own living room experience, and we've always built features for ourselves first. For the past three years I was lucky enough to live in an Xfinity area, with virtually no DRM. With my trusty PRIME and Comcast CableCARD, I could freely record and watch all my favorite network and cable shows in the Channels ecosystem.

Then last year I moved, and the only cable provider in my new area is Cox. Almost every single channel is DRM. Even some OTA channels like the CW have DRM! And on top of that, antenna reception is really bad so the only way to get my locals is with a Cox CableCARD. I really wanted to keep using Channels DVR, so I came up with the most ridiculous and hilarious setup: I used my PRIME to record locals, and I used my QUATRO to record cable channels via HDHomeRun Premium TV. This worked remarkably well, and is a testament to SiliconDust's stackable network tuner design.

Unfortunately, when Premium TV was discontinued my rube golberg DVR came crashing down. My only option, it seemed, was to abandon Channels and switch to one of the OTT providers. But even that didn't make sense because I was paying Cox for a full cable package as part of the promotional price they offered me, and had to keep doing so for the next two years!

Fortunately we discovered another solution, which is now available as a beta feature in Channels DVR: TV Everywhere support. Now Channels DVR can use your cable account login to directly access many cable channel live streams over the internet, letting you watch and record them in Channels just like with your HDHomeRun. And since Channels DVR fully supports multiple sources, you can mix and match these new TVE streams with your existing HDHomeRuns using the DVR's priority and favoriting features.

As you may have guessed, there are caveats. Not all channels are available through TVE, and TVE support varies depending on your Cable provider. These streams also come over the internet, unlike the PRIME, so they count against your bandwidth caps. In practice however, it works surprisingly well. Using my Cox login I have access to more channels than I had with Premium TV, and the streams are in better quality!

You can read all the caveats, requirements and details about this feature our forum: TV Everywhere Beta

P.S. After Premium TV was discontinued, we briefly looked again into DTCP-IP support. There are SO many roadblocks in the licensing, certification, and development process, that it is essentially impossible for us to ever add support for DRM playback or recording.

spencer777
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Re: Channels DVR + DRM

Post by spencer777 » Fri Jun 21, 2019 7:20 pm

Can say this tv everywhere beta is working great. I was paying $5 a month for Spectrum’s crappy cloud Dvr. Channels blows Spectrum away. A@E channels are the only ones that don’t work because they don’t provide a live stream.
Last edited by spencer777 on Sat Jun 22, 2019 10:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

daniel2744
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Re: Channels DVR + DRM

Post by daniel2744 » Sat Jun 22, 2019 9:26 am

I just become aware of this new feature yesterday when I was reading the periodic email I get from you guys. I got home from work and set it up. took me only minutes to get it going on my WD MyCloud PR2100 NAS. used it for awhile and some channels had some buffering issues at first but that was just at the beginning and afterwards had no problems. I set some recordings to test and everything worked great. i thought something like this was dead when premium tv sadly was forced to go away. thanks for always looking to improve the experience with channels dvr.

jasonl
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Re: Channels DVR + DRM

Post by jasonl » Sun Jun 23, 2019 1:28 pm

tmm1 wrote:
Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:03 pm
Then last year I moved, and the only cable provider in my new area is Cox. Almost every single channel is DRM. Even some OTA channels like the CW have DRM! And on top of that, antenna reception is really bad so the only way to get my locals is with a Cox CableCARD.
You really ought to complain to them about that, and file an FCC complaint if you don't get anywhere. It's a violation of federal code to DRM protect local broadcast channels.
47 CFR 76.1904
(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.

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rrussis82
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Re: Channels DVR + DRM

Post by rrussis82 » Sun Jun 23, 2019 3:39 pm

This is the type of thing I had mentioned in past posts that SD should do, allow other sources into their APP. Although I am not a Channels subscriber due to the fact I already subscribe to SD, have a lifetime Plex Pass, and paid for a year of Emby Premier to test it out, the cost of another DVR service did not make sense to me, but I applaud the developer for thinking outside the box and accomplishing something that has been requested multiple times to SD.

jasonmcroy
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Re: Channels DVR + DRM

Post by jasonmcroy » Sun Jun 23, 2019 9:10 pm

I can add my experience with this as well. When the Beta was announced I HAD to try it out. I was super bummed when Premium TV went away over here. So, I was still looking and trying other solutions. It required me to have to use several different apps to get what I wanted at a price I was willing to pay.

Anyway, I signed up for Spectrum Choice TV which gives me the option of 10 cable channels for 25.00 per month. There are really only about 6 cable channels we care about. I signed up and now I have all my channels via TVE coming into my Channels DVR alongside my OTA antenna all in one interface! It's ridiculously easy.

Since it is in Beta there were a few bumps here and there but nothing major. I am very pleased with the service and setup.

tmm1
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Re: Channels DVR + DRM

Post by tmm1 » Mon Jun 24, 2019 12:58 pm

jasonl wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 1:28 pm
You really ought to complain to them about that, and file an FCC complaint if you don't get anywhere. It's a violation of federal code to DRM protect local broadcast channels.
47 CFR 76.1904
(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.
Thanks for the tip. I will try, as even PBS is DRM.

Is there a good way to reach someone at the local office who will actually be able to do something about this?

jasonl
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Re: Channels DVR + DRM

Post by jasonl » Mon Jun 24, 2019 1:28 pm

tmm1 wrote:
Mon Jun 24, 2019 12:58 pm
Thanks for the tip. I will try, as even PBS is DRM.

Is there a good way to reach someone at the local office who will actually be able to do something about this?
Not that I know of. You just have to go through the normal support channels, and hope. Getting a tech out would have a better chance of success since they might be able to directly contact local people, where the phone support is probably in Las Vegas and may not be able to reach them directly.

Occasionally, I have seen cases where a card just somehow gets configured wrong and protects everything even when it isn't for other subscribers, and sometimes they can fix that by just wiping it off the account and starting over from scratch. The only way to know if that's the case would be to compare against someone else's CableCARD.

By the way, I sent you a PM on another topic.

wellthatsnotgood
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Re: Channels DVR + DRM

Post by wellthatsnotgood » Tue Jun 25, 2019 12:09 am

jasonl wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 1:28 pm
47 CFR 76.1904
(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.
Except the FCC allows them to encrypt broadcast channels. So since they aren't unencrypted (ClearQAM) anymore, wouldn't they technically be allowed to apply the copy-once flag?

gtb
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Re: Channels DVR + DRM

Post by gtb » Tue Jun 25, 2019 10:39 am

wellthatsnotgood wrote:
Tue Jun 25, 2019 12:09 am
jasonl wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 1:28 pm
47 CFR 76.1904
(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.
Except the FCC allows them to encrypt broadcast channels. So since they aren't unencrypted (ClearQAM) anymore, wouldn't they technically be allowed to apply the copy-once flag?
No, and possible yes. Jason is correct regarding the regs he quoted. However, there is another section of the regs that allow content for which the provider has to pay (including retransmission consent, which is 90%+ of OTA) to restrict access. AFAIK there has never been a provider which has asked the FCC to decide on which reg takes precedence. And in any case, tracking individual stations current contract status (in each and every market, for each and every contract) and assigning protections to the cable content is something no provider apparently wants to do. So, in practice, OTAs are set copy-freely, even if they might not need to be with a better lawyer. That means, in practice, when the OTAs are set copy-once, it is something the local engineers have to fix, and there is no way to easily get to them. Sometimes you can contact the TV station engineer to push from one end while you open tickets from the cable provider end. Neither has any assurance of anything getting done quickly.

There is a different reg which required that as long as analogue was made available, those channels (on analogue) must be broadcast ClearQAM, but as most providers have eliminated analogue, everything is mostly encrypted (requiring a CableCARD).

jasonl
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Re: Channels DVR + DRM

Post by jasonl » Tue Jun 25, 2019 12:52 pm

The "unencrypted broadcast television" refers to being unencrypted when transmitted over the air, not over the cable line. The definition explicitly includes cases where the cable provider employs access control (i.e. encryption).
47 CFR 76.1902
(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.
(emphasis mine)

wellthatsnotgood
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Re: Channels DVR + DRM

Post by wellthatsnotgood » Tue Jun 25, 2019 10:51 pm

Ah, that's good to know. Glad they can't get out of the requirement on a technicality.

tmm1
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Re: Channels DVR + DRM

Post by tmm1 » Wed Jul 24, 2019 12:29 pm

Quick update here on my DRM situation. I tried to contact Cox customer service to complain about CW and PBS being DRM, but it went nowhere. So last month, on Jun 24, I filed a complaint with the FCC:
Cox is applying copy-once protection to several OTA broadcast station streams via their cable service.

For example channel 1005 CW and 105 PBSW

It's a violation of federal code to DRM protect local broadcast channels.
47 CFR 76.1904
(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.

Today, exactly 30 days later I received a response:
Thank you again for your submission to the FCC. The FCC's role in this process is to facilitate a conversation between you and your provider. We received a response from your provider to your Ticket No. 3348961.

Here's what happens next:

We reviewed the provider's response and based on the information submitted, we believe your provider has responded to your concerns.

Your provider is required to send you a written copy of its response by postal mail. Keep in mind it could take up to 10 days for you to receive the response.

Please review your provider's response. If the issues you raised in your ticket remain unresolved, you can reply directly to this email with a short description of the problem.

Keep in mind that billing adjustments or other actions by your provider could take time to implement.

If we do not hear from you within 30 days, your ticket will be closed.

If you have new issues with your provider, you can file an additional complaint by going to: consumercomplaints.fcc.gov
I checked my PRIME's lineup and both CW and PBS are no longer DRM!!

Sammy2
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Re: Channels DVR + DRM

Post by Sammy2 » Fri Jul 26, 2019 3:45 pm

tmm1 wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 12:29 pm
Quick update here on my DRM situation. I tried to contact Cox customer service to complain about CW and PBS being DRM, but it went nowhere. So last month, on Jun 24, I filed a complaint with the FCC:
Cox is applying copy-once protection to several OTA broadcast station streams via their cable service.

For example channel 1005 CW and 105 PBSW

It's a violation of federal code to DRM protect local broadcast channels.
47 CFR 76.1904
(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.

Today, exactly 30 days later I received a response:
Thank you again for your submission to the FCC. The FCC's role in this process is to facilitate a conversation between you and your provider. We received a response from your provider to your Ticket No. 3348961.

Here's what happens next:

We reviewed the provider's response and based on the information submitted, we believe your provider has responded to your concerns.

Your provider is required to send you a written copy of its response by postal mail. Keep in mind it could take up to 10 days for you to receive the response.

Please review your provider's response. If the issues you raised in your ticket remain unresolved, you can reply directly to this email with a short description of the problem.

Keep in mind that billing adjustments or other actions by your provider could take time to implement.

If we do not hear from you within 30 days, your ticket will be closed.

If you have new issues with your provider, you can file an additional complaint by going to: consumercomplaints.fcc.gov
I checked my PRIME's lineup and both CW and PBS are no longer DRM!!
WOW!! Amazing!

Now about that TV Everywhere.. Any chance in the heavens you'd work with Emby on Implementation in their DVR? Fortunately for me I have very few DRM'd channels but a few I like so I "record" them using PlayOn and my Spectrum Credentials but sometimes you just want to flip channels.

tmm1
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Re: Channels DVR + DRM

Post by tmm1 » Sun Jul 28, 2019 10:28 am

I got an official response from Cox in the mail:

Image

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