German broadcasters block HDTV recording

Jörn Krieger

Viewers of the HDTV versions of German commercial channels RTL, Sat.1, ProSieben and their sister services on SES Astra’s planned HD+ platform face not being able to record them if they receive the channels with HDTV set-top-boxes containing a current generation common interface slot (CI) through a so-called legacy module.

“A recording function is not anticipated to be possible with these special CI modules, but a time-shift function will probably be permitted for time-delayed television of up to 90 minutes,” Alexander Sacher, vice president receiver technology of APS Astra Platform Services, said in an interview with Astra Germany’s newsletter ASTRAinsider.

He explained that the reason was that the channels whose programmes will be distributed on HD+ insist on certain restrictions to ensure signal protection – for example copying protection – as the CI standard wouldn’t enable a straight-through consistent solution from the module to the receiver.

At the launch of HD+ in late autumn only HDTV receivers and television sets containing the new generation interface CI+ will be able to receive the service. According to Sacher, the legacy modules and software updates for boxes with the “old” CI interface are expected to become available in the first quarter of 2010.

He stressed that a solution is being worked on to ensure that HD+ and the HDTV offer of pay-TV operator Sky Deutschland can be received using a single box. “We hope to see solutions from manufacturers in retail stores in the near future which will allow reception of both Sky and HD+. We are very actively supporting this possibility.”