Kevin Vance - So comcast decided to encrypt a bunch of digital cable channels that…

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01:02 am

Sunday, May 7th, 2006
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So comcast decided to encrypt a bunch of digital cable channels that were previously in the clear over QAM. Fuck you, Comcast. My cable is horrible, so even though the digital has this terrible noise reduction filter run over it, it still looks better than the analog. And I didn't have to waste CPU transcoding it.

I checked a few of these channels out in the diagnostic menu on our cable box, and they suspiciously all have DRM=0x01. So, I think that confirms my theory.

Also, it looks like other people from the area are having the same problem.

Here's a list of what got the DRMhammer. There doesn't seem to be any pattern (Telemundo encrypted, but not Univision!) except that no shopping channels were encrypted. Some QAM channels are totally gone, others have only some subchannels tunable. (Bold for ones I care about.)

Channels that are now encrypted:
A&E, AMC, BET, Cartoon Network, CMT, CNBC, CNNs, Comedy Central, CourtTV, CSN, Discovery, Disney, E!!!!!!!!!, ESPNs, EWTN 25, FoodTV, FOX News, FX, Golf, GSN, History, MTV, Nickelodeon, OLN, PBS 39, PCN, Sci-Fi, SpikeTV, Style, TCM, Telemundo, TLC, TNT, TVLAND, SPEED, USA, VH1, WYBE

Channels that are left:
ABC Family, Animal Planet, Bravo, Christian Channel, CN8, Comcast Community Bulletin Board, C-SPANs, ESPN Classic, HSN, "Jewelry Television"?, MSNBC, NJN, QVC, TBS, Travel, TVGUIDE, Univision, "WELCOME TO COMCAST", WFMZ, WHYY, WMCNDT, WPPX, and all the broadcast networks except for non-Philadelphia PBS.
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Comments
[User Picture]From: gregw
2006-05-07 05:17 am (UTC)
Eventually, they all will be. Comcast has been slowly converting all our stuff to digital, I suppose mainly to counter DirecTV's claim about them being the only all-digital TV provider. And to thart people who like to record stuff on their PC.

We just got a letter from Comcast saying that all their channels are now digital; before only the ones from 100 on up were.
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[User Picture]From: kvance
2006-05-07 05:27 am (UTC)
Yeah, definitely. Our Comcast box doesn't even have an analog tuner. Until recently, almost all of those digital channels were sent over the clear. Just the extra stuff like HBO was encrypted. I'd love to know why they decided to start encypting just half of their regular channels.
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[User Picture]From: wikle
2006-05-07 07:12 pm (UTC)
I'm not really sure what your talking about, but it doesn't sound happy. Are you saying that if a channel is "digital" it cant be run through a computer. Cause if thats the case that might explain why my mythtv setup has contiously failed me since moving to Baltimore except on two channels.
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[User Picture]From: kvance
2006-05-07 07:44 pm (UTC)
Nope, you have an analog tuner. Right now, the cable company is sending analog and digital versions of the same channels on different frequencies. All the analog ones are in the clear, but the digital ones have optional DRM. Until recently, only the extra digital channels like HBO were DRM'd. Now they enabled the DRM on a bunch of regular digital channels.
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[User Picture]From: wikle
2006-05-07 10:51 pm (UTC)
shucks I was hoping this would magically solve all my problems. Oh well.

Can you get access to those other channels (the drm'ed ones) by running a line off your digital cable box?
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[User Picture]From: kvance
2006-05-07 11:37 pm (UTC)
Not really. Some of the cable boxes have firewire out, but it doesn't allow DRM'd programs through that port. You'd need some kind of component- or DVI-capture card on the PC and (for HDTV) a ton of CPU to transcode the now unencrypted but *uncompressed* video. And of course, that's the reason why HDMI was invented. So the video is still encrypted over the HDMI cable.

The answer is probably for someone to write a DeCSS-alike for the raw video stream on the cable, but I doubt anyone will do it until analog cable starts getting phased out.
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