The Federal Communications Commission has put certain limits on how bad the DRM can get for cable and satellite TV. If you think your provider has violated one of these rules, visit this page and submit a complaint to the FCC at this URL:

http://esupport.fcc.gov/complaints.htm

The FCC's rules are...

  • No copying restrictions can be put on any unencrypted over-the-air broadcast content carried via cable or satellite, including shows like Lost, 24, Desperate Housewives, and The Office.
  • "Pay television, non-premium subscription television, and free conditional access" must allow at least one generation of copies for programming, though all copying can be prohibited for video-on-demand, pay-per-view, and subscription-on-demand programming.
  • Cable and satellite providers cannot block use of particular outputs on a program-by-program basis ("selectable output control").
  • Providers cannot purposely reduce the resolution of broadcast content carried over cable or satellite, and they must notify the FCC before "down-rezzing" other programming.
  • Basic tier cable must be provided unencrypted.

In addition, cable providers must make CableCARDs available as a way to unscramble digital cable. If cable providers frustrate your attempt to get a CableCARD, file a complaint via the URL above. You should also take action now to stop cable providers from dragging their feet on CableCARD.

You can learn more about these restrictions in our white paper on cable and satellite DRM.