Published: 09.15 Europe/London, April 20, 2011

Television manufacturers that are beginning to take a direct role in the delivery of content need to ensure they are adequately dealing with security issues.

In her first media interview since becoming the executive director of the European Association for the Protection of Encrypted Works and Services (AEPOC), Sheila Cassells told Broadband TV News it was paramount that content was provided securely.

“I know from the discussions that are going on that this is an area that everybody has seized on. The question will be whether the manufacturers that have argued for single solutions in the past, propose that in some markets again. Having a single DRM solution is not necessarily the safest way to do business.” Cassells said there were already talks in progress between broadcasters and manufacturers and platform operators about how to secure the content, alongside rules for overlays and metadata. “The pay-TV model based on conditional access has been successful in securing content. What we need to do is ensure that connected TV manufacturers also have security at the heart of their product and service design and deployments.”

Cassells said that work was also being done within the European High Definition Forum, which had progressed onto issues including 3D and connected TV, now that HD deployments were well underway.

Insiders say that Cassells and the team of Chairman Philippe-Olivier Rousseau and VPs Christine Maury-Panis (Viaccess) and Michael Barley (BSkyB) have brought a new energy to AEPOC, using standing committees to ensure progress on issues.

There remains a series of ongoing issues, such as the recent opinion from the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that broadcasters cannot stop people from buying cheaper foreign satellite packages. The case was sparked by the Portsmouth landlady that has been using a subscription to the Greek Nova platform rather than pay Sky’s retail charges.

Cassells said the opinion appears to suggest that if Member States had national laws preventing the sale of cards where addresses had been falsely given then the current arrangements would prevail. A final ruling – which may not necessarily follow the Advocate General’s opinion – may still be several months away.

“If the opinion was endorsed by the Court this could mean that the current arrangements for licensing rights, including conditional access licensing, would change dramatically,” said Cassells. “The question then becomes how do you license rights, what are the terms of CA agreements, and on the face of it you wouldn’t be able to do that on a territorial basis.”

There is also the European Commission’s consultation on the enforcement directive that centres on intellectual property rights (IPR). AEPOC wants to stress the importance of harmonisation and effective implementation across the EU..

“The Commission recognises that digital distribution is a fast moving area and that they need to try and make sure the legislation can keep pace. They also recognise that they are not doing that,” she says. “We need to ensure also that the Commission rigorously assesses the implications for piracy of any new legislation and policy initiatives. Educating and informing the Member States, including their customs authorities, becomes hugely important. What we’re talking about here is a global issue and we would encourage the Commission to look for other instruments to help them tackle the issue”.

AEPOC is planning to intensify work with other groups such as CASBAA (Cable And Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia), particularly on areas like card sharing and working with local enforcement agencies.