Satellite Signal Scrambling

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Emery E. Mandel

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Feb 18, 1986, 1:48:02 PM2/18/86
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Earlier this year, HBO and Cinemax started
scrambling their satellite signals. They said that
they were losing millions because people were able
to get their signal and not pay for it through
"relatively inexpensive" backyard satellite
dishes.

Did they think about how much satellite dish sales
would go down? Did they think about how people
might turn to home video rather than cable and
satellite programming? Did they think about
signal distortion because of the additional
scrambling and descrambling taking place? Did
they think about how customers they had on
CABLE might have discontinued service because of
disgust with the greedy attitude of HBO? How
about the black market for satellite signal
descramblers? They probably didn't think much
of that, either.

Congress could pass legislation which would ban
satellite scrambling but what would be the end
result? HBO might file a lawsuit against the
federal government. Oh no! HBO is on the warpath!
They're suing our government for 10 million of
our tax dollars! Meanwhile, that same 10 million
could go to some better cause. One of the first
thoughts to come to mind is to NASA or to
Medicare. Well, HBO might sue...but it would make
them look bad. You wonder if they care what they
look like, though. After all, they've already
scrambled. What will they think of next?

Emery Mandel

"Gee, sure is warm down here in Florida..."

Nelson

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Feb 25, 1986, 4:43:21 PM2/25/86
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Emery Mandel writes:
> Earlier this year, HBO and Cinemax started
> scrambling their satellite signals. They said that
> they were losing millions because people were able
> to get their signal and not pay for it through
> "relatively inexpensive" backyard satellite
> dishes.
>
> Did they think about how much satellite dish sales
> would go down?

(mild dish flame on)

Why should HBO care about sagging dish sales? Those once
flourishing dish sales were literally at HBO's expense. Who do you
think is paying indirectly for HBO's losses? I'll bet I'm paying
more for HBO because of those lost revenues from satellite dishes.

> Did they think about how people
> might turn to home video rather than cable and
> satellite programming?

What people? You mean the people who paid $2000+ for a satellite
dish knowing they would get HBO (and others) free? What about MOST
HBO viewers who regularly pay for the service through their cable
company? Sounds like Mr. Mandel is a satellite dish owner who has
enjoyed HBO "free" and is now upset that he'll have to pay for it
like most people. Note that the $2000+ paid for the dish and the
electronics does not pay for, or contribute to, the programming that
dish owners receive. Furthermore they all knew that when they
paid for them..

> Did they think about
> signal distortion because of the additional
> scrambling and descrambling taking place?

I have not notice ANY audio or video degradation on my cable
since the scrambling started.

> Did they think about how customers they had on
> CABLE might have discontinued service because of
> disgust with the greedy attitude of HBO?

Greedy? Hmmm.. Just who is being greedy here? HBO is just trying
to get everyone who watches it to pay for it. Doesn't sound too
greedy to me. However, dish-owners who get upset because they
can't get HBO free anymore........

> How about the black market for satellite signal
> descramblers? They probably didn't think much
> of that, either.

Oh yes they did. As previously described on the net the
scrambling method is fairly sophisticated (read not cheap).
(flame off)

> ...
> Emery Mandel

A personal retraction to Mr. Mandel IF he is not a dish owner
otherwise it stands.

> "Gee, sure is warm down here in Florida..."

I wish I could say the same for Illinois!!
--

..ihnp4!ihlpm!terry2 =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- "All this is
| Terry Nelson | because of me
Keep | AT&T Bell Laboratories | and not my
It | Naperville, Illinois | employer!"
Warm =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Jim Boland

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Feb 27, 1986, 7:08:43 PM2/27/86
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In article <7...@ihlpm.UUCP>, ter...@ihlpm.UUCP (Nelson) writes:
>
> Emery Mandel writes:
> > Earlier this year, HBO and Cinemax started
> > scrambling their satellite signals. They said that
> > they were losing millions because people were able
> > to get their signal and not pay for it through
> > "relatively inexpensive" backyard satellite
> > dishes.
> >
> > Did they think about how much satellite dish sales
> > would go down?
>
> (mild dish flame on)
>
> Why should HBO care about sagging dish sales? Who do you

> think is paying indirectly for HBO's losses? I'll bet I'm paying
> more for HBO because of those lost revenues from satellite dishes.
I agree. HBO (and other programmers) should not care what happens to
dish sales as that is not the market they are interested in. They are
in the business of supplying programming for cable viewers. That programming
costs money and that money must come from somewhere. Owners of satellite
dishes do not possess any "rights" to view that programming without paying,
contrary to their belief and any laws which have been passed. However, I
doubt that you are paying more for HBO because of lost revenues.
And besides, HBO has publicly stated that they are not after the individual
dish owner. They are after the bars, taverns, hotels, and motels - the ones
who use one dish to feed many people without paying.

>Did they think about how people
> > might turn to home video rather than cable and
> > satellite programming?
>
> What people? You mean the people who paid $2000+ for a satellite
> dish knowing they would get HBO (and others) free? What about MOST
> HBO viewers who regularly pay for the service through their cable
> company? Sounds like Mr. Mandel is a satellite dish owner who has
> enjoyed HBO "free" and is now upset that he'll have to pay for it
> like most people. Note that the $2000+ paid for the dish and the
> electronics does not pay for, or contribute to, the programming that
> dish owners receive. Furthermore they all knew that when they
> paid for them..
>

People would turn whether HBO (and others) scrambled or not. Those
of us who have had dishes for some time (I've had one for four years)
long ago realized that there is nothing on HBO (or the other movie
channels) that we really care to see, anyway. I would much prefer to
rent a movie when I want to for $1 than pay HBO for all the repeats and
other stuff they have. My feeling is to let them scramble. Who really
cares??? They have a right to protect their investment. I realize that
this may be no-no for a dish owner to say, but that's how many of us feel.

>
> > Did they think about how customers they had on
> > CABLE might have discontinued service because of
> > disgust with the greedy attitude of HBO?
>
> Greedy? Hmmm.. Just who is being greedy here? HBO is just trying
> to get everyone who watches it to pay for it. Doesn't sound too
> greedy to me. However, dish-owners who get upset because they
> can't get HBO free anymore........

I agree with your statement completely. Many dish owners feel that since
they have invested $1000 in a satellite dish then they are entitled to
watch everything. They even use the argument that it was american taxpayers
who paid to put up the satellite and therefore the american people should be
able to watch anything that is up there.
Happily, there are also many dish owners who do not agree to any of this
crazy logic.

Besides, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH.

Basically, If I have a dish and happen to see something up there, then I
see it. If that program supplier doesn't want me to see it, he will
scramble it. Fine. No problem. Most of the stuff will be eventually
scrambled. I am not worried. What do I watch, you ask??
Well, I would say that I probably watched about three movies in the last
two months, probably on Movie Channel (cause it's in stereo) - as opposed
to renting about 10-12 movies in the same time frame for $1 each.
(Special dollar nites). I use the dish to watch David Letterman @9:30
instead of staying up. Usually, most of the time, it stays parked on
the ABC east coast feed. I used to park on the NASA feed when they were
up. Sometimes I watch the Dallas station (which is not carried on cables
here). I look at the Mexican stations occasionally. Most of the time
I just scan looking for different things. I also get to see the PBS
programs that aren't carried by our local affiliate.
Sounds like I watch a lot of satellite TV. Not hardly. My total TV
time is less than 4-5 hours a week including rented movies.

And of course, these are only my opinions.

Andre Hut

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Mar 1, 1986, 6:40:30 PM3/1/86
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Well, Showtime has started some scrambling tests, and I have noticed
that whenever they do this, a little black circle appears in the lower
right-hand corner. This is very annoying. Does anyone know what this
is, or what it is for?
--
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

ihnp4-\
sdcsvax-\ \
Andre' Hut sdcrdcf!psivax!nrcvax!andre
hplabs--/ /
ucbvax!calma-/

Network Research Corporation
923 Executive Park Dr. Suite C
Salt Lake City, Utah 84117
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

rex ballard

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Mar 7, 1986, 4:16:42 PM3/7/86
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Scrambling was considered to affect 4 groups of dish owners.

Hotel and Bar owners (who derive indirect revenue from sattelite programs)

Rural owners (who cannot recieve these services any other way - no cable)

Suburban and Urban owners (who have access to cable but use dishes to
get "free cable").

Special interest owners (who wish to recieve services not carried by
their local cable company) in this case, they really fit in the same
catagory as the rural owners.

Hotel and Bar owners should be liable reguardless of whether the
signals are encoded or not, scrambling simply ensures that they
will have to pay for the attractions. Ideally, they should subsidize
the other groups (Rural especially).

Rural owners should be able to get scramblers/codes for nominal fees.
The assumtion is probably that they weren't necessarily pirating the
service, just trying to get it the only way they could. There is
no threat to cable companies in this case. The alternative would have
been to force encryptors to provide cable service to anyone who wanted
it. This is not really practical when "aunt Mable's farm" is 200 miles
from the nearest cable company. In this case, the dish owner might
even consider normal cable rates to be reasonable.

Suburban/Urban dish owners gambled that the dishes would be amortized
before scrambling occurred. Unless the cable companies choose to give
a "distribution discount" to dish owners, it is likely that these dishes
cannot be further amortized.

The bright spot here is that if a single "standard decoder" is adopted,
the dish owner can "shop around" to get the best price for "key codes"
from a cable company. A dish owner in New York can get the codes from
an operator in Denver Colorado and have it charged to his VISA card by
phone. If the local company wants $15/month and Denver wants $5/month,
a $200 decoder would be amortized in less than 2 years. A $1000 dish
would take almost ten years. Of course if the same discounts apply
to a number of services, the amortization would be much faster.

The other bright spot is that programs that couldn't otherwise be shown
(X rated, politically offensive,...) may be allowed because the encryption
makes the signal inoffensive to anyone who has not specifically requested
that program/service.

Whether this is actually how things work out or not, it is worth considering
before flaming at the insensitivity of congress and sattelite owners
to ALL dish owners.

I would be interested in hearing flames if the Rural/Special groups end
up getting burned.

Glenn S. Tenney

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Mar 10, 1986, 4:04:47 PM3/10/86
to
... What is a line eater ...
Since I have recently subscribed to this group, this may have been
answered before, but...

A cable company charges each customer for a premium service (eg. HBO)
a fee; the provider (HBO) charges the cable company that same amount, but
only up to a certain number of subscribers (say 3,000) with the excess
being pure profit for the cable company. (These figures were accurate
when last I checked.) Now the question: When a dish owner subscribes
directly they pay the "full" amount regardless of how many dish owners
subscribe; Why can't there be a dish clearing house (a dish "cable"
company) that pays the fee requested (eg. 3,000 x $13 or whatever) but
charges each dish owner their FAIR SHARE plus a small profit. I think
the amounts HBO are charging dish owners is ludicrous and exhorbitant
($12.95 for just HBO) when they don't have ANY extra costs expended to
provide you that service!

References: from Electronic Engineering Times 3 March 1986 pg 11
HBO Hotline (800) HBO-DISH
The Black Box Solution (a how to build your own descrambler)
4014 Central Ave.
Hot Springs, Ark. 71913 (501)321-1845

-- Glenn Tenney
UUCP: {hplabs,glacier,lll-crg,ihnp4!ptsfa}!well!tenney
ARPA: well!ten...@LLL-CRG.ARPA Delphi and MCI Mail: TENNEY
As Alphonso Bodoya would say... (tnx boulton)
Disclaimers? DISCLAIMERS!? I don' gotta show you no stinking DISCLAIMERS!

Jim Boland

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Mar 11, 1986, 4:16:32 PM3/11/86
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Mr Video claimed:
>> HBO is currently not in stereo.
>>They don't send it out in stereo from New York. Currently, only Movie Channel
>>has stereo.

>HBO is distributed in digital stereo. A direct result of the M/A Comm
>Cypher IIencoding/decoding system. But, not all cable companies (mine
>included) do not put up the stereo audio on the FM band.

>One of the guys at our head-end put up HBO on the FM band, while it was still
>mono. After the scrambling went 24 hours, he put in the spare stereo exciter
>and we had stereo. But, the powers that be said that it had to be pulled, as
>further study was needed. For no extra cost we had stereo. Oh Well!!!

I knew that HBO intended to go digital stereo when they started scrambling.
Therefore, I called them when they did and they said it was in the plans but
they were not stereo as of yet. Occasionally they feed concerts in stereo
for the cable systems, but that is on a separate feed with separate audio.
When David Anthony of DataSpan said (on the net) that he had a Cypher decoder,
I asked if it were in stereo and he said replied no. Then I saw your Mr.
Video's posting that his cable company had it for a while and I said to
myself, "Self, what gives?". So, once again, I called HBO and put the question
to them again. The answer from them is "No. We are not in digital stereo yet.
We have not fed it yet. We intend to but the date is unknown".
I don't know what Mr. Video's cable company did. HBO 1-800-426-3474.


In article <7...@well.UUCP>, ten...@well.UUCP (Glenn S. Tenney) writes:
>
> A cable company charges each customer for a premium service (eg. HBO)
> a fee; the provider (HBO) charges the cable company that same amount,

Nope. I don't know what the fee is now, but a few years ago it was appx.
$3-$4 per customer depending on cable company.

> but only up to a certain number of subscribers (say 3,000) with the excess
> being pure profit for the cable company. (These figures were accurate
> when last I checked.)

Nope. As above, per customer. There may have been special "deals" as
incentives for some operators, but that is not the general rule.

> Now the question: When a dish owner subscribes
> directly they pay the "full" amount regardless of how many dish owners
> subscribe;

That's right. They pay the same average going "retail" price.

> Why can't there be a dish clearing house (a dish "cable" company)

That's being discussed and planned.

> I think
> the amounts HBO are charging dish owners is ludicrous and exhorbitant
> ($12.95 for just HBO) when they don't have ANY extra costs expended to
> provide you that service!

They have the costs of collecting and administering that fee. Perhaps
$12.95 is a little high, but the charge should be higher than the
wholesale price. Remember, part of the cable operators "high" price
includes his collection price.

From <16...@brl-smoke.ARPA> (Brint Cooper)

>Heard on late-night, antenna-received TV: "And with every satellite TV
>system ordered from BirdView, we'll give you a scrambler absolutely
>free!"
>I wonder if they really meant that?
Sales are down. In order to bring them up, they gotta try something.
Either raise the price of the system by about $350 (wholesale price of
descrambler), or cut down your margins. or possibly a combination of
both. It's legit.

from <3...@tikal.UUCP> (Roger Lanphere)
>Referring to an article on pg. 11 of ELECTRONIC ENGINEERING TIMES, issue
>371, March 3, 1986:
> The BLACK BOX SOLUTION company claims it has cracked the MA/COMM Video-
>cypher II technology for decrypting satellite video transmissions.

> BLACK BOX representatives were recently at the conference of Society
>for Private and Commercial Earth Stations (SPACE) selling manuals which
>detailed how to descramble THE VIDEO PORTION ONLY for a price of $49.95.
The details of this were posted to net.video a few months ago. And for
free. There is no black magic to the video portion. They are using the
same basic methods that ON-TV (Oak) and others have used for several
years. There is only so much (analog) that you can do to the video.
However, what good is video without audio???
>An estimated cost of building the
>descrambler circuitry is approximately $90-$100 in components. They also
>claim that their method of descrambling also allows other formats such
>as the OAK and ORION formats currently used by X-rated pay TV services
>and Canadian satellite broadcasts to be descrambled also.
True. In fact, there is a surplus store in Portland that sells old
Oak (On-TV) boxes for $10-$15 that can be modified to do that.

> Please note however that while this method descrambles the video portion
>of the picture, THE AUDIO IS STILL SCRAMBLED. BLACK BOX claims that by
>late March they will have the audio solution worked out
I doubt it.

> BLACK BOX states: "The use of the BLACK BOX solution to decode scrambled
>TV signals may be illegal.
Let me paraphrase that for you. change the words "may be" to "IS".

> Yes, I own a satellite dish and NO WAY will I purchase a videocypher II
>box and then pay a cable company for monthly program service!!! I would
>really like to see someone prove that I'm using an illegal decoder box
As in the case of the rooftop HBO's and court decisions, they didn't have
to prove it.
Granted, It would be difficult to prove, but seeing as how there won't be
any boxes which will have audio, there is no reason to go after you.
Yep, I have a dish and I will get a videocyper II when the rest have started
using it. Right now, I could care less about HBO/Cinemax. I much prefer
the Movie Channel.
These are only my opinions.

Gary Traveis

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Mar 12, 1986, 4:35:50 PM3/12/86
to
> > Why should HBO care about sagging dish sales? Who do you
> > think is paying indirectly for HBO's losses? I'll bet I'm paying
> > more for HBO because of those lost revenues from satellite dishes.
> I agree. HBO (and other programmers) should not care what happens to
> dish sales as that is not the market they are interested in. They are
> in the business of supplying programming for cable viewers. That programming
> costs money and that money must come from somewhere. Owners of satellite
> dishes do not possess any "rights" to view that programming without paying,
> contrary to their belief and any laws which have been passed. However, I
> doubt that you are paying more for HBO because of lost revenues.
> And besides, HBO has publicly stated that they are not after the individual
> dish owner. They are after the bars, taverns, hotels, and motels - the ones
> who use one dish to feed many people without paying.
>

WRONG.
True, programming does cost money, but you will find that the cost of HBO
to customers has been steadily rising. This trend was well on its
way long before the general public had access to the "inexpensive dish"
technology. It's called "what the market will bear".

Also wrong is the line that states that HBO is not after the individuals
with dishes. HBO's standard policy is to use a firm that hires local
geeks (for minimum wage) to drive around neighborhoods taking pictures
of any antennas that look suspicious. How do I know this? Because
I got the chance to see that pictorial list that they carry. If
an antenna looks like one of the drawings on the list -- CLICK.
The photos and addresses are forwarded to a discount trash-bin
legal office that sends out hundreds of letters threatening criminal
prosecution to those who don't settle-up, take down the antennas, and
subscribe. Many HAMs in my area (myself included) have run into this
problem because the mobile zombies can't tell the difference between
a microwave dish for amateur use and a dish used to watch commercial
broadcasts.

> >Did they think about how people
> > > might turn to home video rather than cable and
> > > satellite programming?
> >
> > What people? You mean the people who paid $2000+ for a satellite
> > dish knowing they would get HBO (and others) free?

That avoids the question! As compared to one (1) satellite receiver
store in this immediate area, there are no less than 9 videotape rental
shops within a one mile radius around where I work (in Cupertino).
Why pay HBO's extreme prices for random garbage on at wierd hours when
you can watch what you want, when you want, for $1-$3 ? Yes, the
reason why HBO is getting less subscribers is the same reason why tape
rental places are doing so well.

> They even use the argument that it was american taxpayers
> who paid to put up the satellite and therefore the american people should be
> able to watch anything that is up there.
> Happily, there are also many dish owners who do not agree to any of this
> crazy logic.

>...

> Basically, If I have a dish and happen to see something up there, then I
> see it. If that program supplier doesn't want me to see it, he will
> scramble it. Fine. No problem. Most of the stuff will be eventually

> scrambled. I am not worried...

Unfortunately, sat' movie companies (HBO in particular), and cellular
telephone companies have the idea that (instead of scrambling) they
can push (or buy) the lawmakers into making receiving equipment illegal.
The signals that they claim as their own go through your property (and you)
24 hours a day and, like erecting a drive-in in your back yard, if they
don't want you to watch, they should either scramble the signal or block
your "view". Companies like HBO (or their thugs, I should say), would
rather spend their money on lawyers instead of scramblng equipment.
In the long run, they usually end up doing both.

I personally don't care about HBO, most of their programming if crap.
I DO care about idiot corporate fools trying to make the airwaves
ILLEGAL to receive! Under fire are dishes (microwave), scanners (because
of their ability to receive in the cellular telephone bands), and general
coverage receivers (because they can pick up cordless phones).
There are existing laws about reception for profit and disclosure or
rebroadcast. These older laws are much less hysterical than the laws
that are being pushed-for recently. Unfortunately, companies like HBO
tend to be technologically lazy and legally topheavy.

--->> Amateur Radio from DC to Blue light! --->>

Gary

(The usual disclaimers about employers and such...)

rex ballard

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Mar 12, 1986, 6:40:32 PM3/12/86
to
In article <7...@well.UUCP> ten...@well.UUCP (Glenn S. Tenney) writes:
>... What is a line eater ...
>Since I have recently subscribed to this group, this may have been
>answered before, but...
>
>A cable company charges each customer for a premium service (eg. HBO)
>a fee; the provider (HBO) charges the cable company that same amount, but
>only up to a certain number of subscribers (say 3,000) with the excess
>being pure profit for the cable company. (These figures were accurate
>when last I checked.) Now the question: When a dish owner subscribes
>directly they pay the "full" amount regardless of how many dish owners
>subscribe; Why can't there be a dish clearing house (a dish "cable"
>company) that pays the fee requested (eg. 3,000 x $13 or whatever) but
>charges each dish owner their FAIR SHARE plus a small profit. I think
>the amounts HBO are charging dish owners is ludicrous and exhorbitant
>($12.95 for just HBO) when they don't have ANY extra costs expended to
>provide you that service!

This is actually a very good idea, considering that it actually costs
MORE for HBO to process billings from each subscriber. Since all that
is required is to have the monthly code change sent/phoned to each
dish owner, there might be a good profit in a "dish code clearing house"!
Actually, a cable company or two could actually start competing in
national magazines for the lowest "dish code" prices :-)
Seriously, it's a good idea!! Any cable operators like it?

John Moore

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Mar 13, 1986, 10:10:39 AM3/13/86
to
In article <7...@well.UUCP> ten...@well.UUCP (Glenn S. Tenney) writes:
>subscribe; Why can't there be a dish clearing house (a dish "cable"
>company) that pays the fee requested (eg. 3,000 x $13 or whatever) but
>charges each dish owner their FAIR SHARE plus a small profit. I think
>the amounts HBO are charging dish owners is ludicrous and exhorbitant
>($12.95 for just HBO) when they don't have ANY extra costs expended to
>provide you that service!
>
>References: from Electronic Engineering Times 3 March 1986 pg 11
> HBO Hotline (800) HBO-DISH
> The Black Box Solution (a how to build your own descrambler)
Such things exist. Here in the Phoenix metropolitan area,
Golden West Cablevision will sell you HBO for $8.00/month. It seems
natural that such services will evolve.
The real danger to those of us owning dishes is that the
satellite providers will use different unscramblers. Then, the capital
cost rather than the monthly charge will kill you eventually. I have
read that the justice department is investigating the "scrambling
consortium" for antitrust. This could cause them to use different
unscramblers!

> 4014 Central Ave.
> Hot Springs, Ark. 71913 (501)321-1845

I heard that someone was showing a pirate descrambler at the
recent Las Vegas show, but that all they were showing was a videotape
of the result. Is this the group? I smell a scam. They could be doing
one of the following:
(1) Showing how to unscramble the video (easy anyway) but not
how to do the audio (apparently very difficult).
(2) Showing how to build an unscrambler but not how to get
the keys (build your own Videocipher II). That would technically
satisfy their claims but not be of any use.
(3) Taking the money and running.
(4) Showing you how to rip off HBO.

Has anyone yet determined which of these is true?

--
John Moore (NJ7E/XE1HDO)
{decvax|ihnp4|hao}!noao!terak!anasazi!john
{hao!noao|decvax|ihnp4|seismo}!terak!anasazi!john
terak!anasazi!jo...@SEISMO.CSS.GOV
(602) 861-7607 (day or evening)
7525 Clearwater Pkwy, Paradise Valley, AZ, 85253 (Home Address)

The opinions expressed here are obviously not mine, so they must be
someone else's.

br...@nicmad.uucp

unread,
Mar 13, 1986, 12:47:23 PM3/13/86
to
In article <5...@tekcbi.UUCP> ji...@tekcbi.UUCP (Jim Boland) writes:
>Mr Video claimed:
>>> HBO is currently not in stereo.
>>>They don't send it out in stereo from New York.
>>>Currently, only Movie Channel has stereo.
>
>>HBO is distributed in digital stereo. A direct result of the M/A Comm
>>Cypher II encoding/decoding system. But, not all cable companies (mine
>>included) put up the stereo audio on the FM band.
>
>>One of the guys at our head-end put up HBO on the FM band, while it was still
>>mono. After the scrambling went 24 hours, he put in the spare stereo exciter
>>and we had stereo. But, the powers that be said that it had to be pulled, as
>>further study was needed. For no extra cost we had stereo. Oh Well!!!
>
>I knew that HBO intended to go digital stereo when they started scrambling.
>Therefore, I called them when they did and they said it was in the plans but
>they were not stereo as of yet. Occasionally they feed concerts in stereo
>for the cable systems, but that is on a separate feed with separate audio.
>When David Anthony of DataSpan said (on the net) that he had a Cypher decoder,
>I asked if it were in stereo and he said replied no. Then I saw your Mr.
>Video's posting that his cable company had it for a while and I said to
>myself, "Self, what gives?". So, once again, I called HBO and put the question
>to them again. The answer from them is "No. We are not in digital stereo yet.
>We have not fed it yet. We intend to but the date is unknown".
>I don't know what Mr. Video's cable company did. HBO 1-800-426-3474.

I still claim it. Here is the reason why. About a week after HBO went full
time scrambling, I tuned in HBO on the FM receiver. The first thing I found
was that it changed frequency. I believe that was because of logistics.
90.5 and 90.9 were swapped, no big deal. Anyway, when I found HBO again,
I sat and watched "Starman" in FULL stereo sound. I had already watched
it in VHS Hi-Fi stereo, so I knew what it was like. Obviously "Starman"
is not one of HBO's concert specials. A few days later I watched another
movie in stereo. I do not know what it was, sorry. But, I have been taping
and keeping "The Hitchhiker". That program was also in stereo, at least the
music was. The lead-in music wasn't, but the program music was. I have the
VHS Hi-Fi stereo tape to prove it. It wasn't one of these false stereo type
of things. I know what our cable company has for equipment, as I know the
engineer in charge of the head-end equipment.

I just got the off phone with HBO Network Operations (1-212-512-1000) and she
verified the fact that if the tape is stereo, it goes out in stereo.
Also, she said that a release is going out to all affiliates on how to get
the stereo audio to their customers.

I knew my ears weren't fooling me.
--

ihnp4------\
harvard-\ \
Mr. Video seismo!uwvax!nicmad!brown
topaz-/ /
decvax------/

Lauren Weinstein

unread,
Mar 13, 1986, 9:25:59 PM3/13/86
to
I haven't heard of very many cases of HBO (or other program suppliers)
hiring people to drive around finding TVRO (satellite receiver) antennas.
I have heard of cases where they were looking for MDS receivers, which
are small and aimed horizontally at the transmitter site (normally on a
tall building or hill). While a TVRO owner can legally own the
equipment and watch a variety of legal material, it would appear that
the vast majority of "oddball" MDS receivers you see around are
aimed directly at the premium program transmitters and were installed
solely for that purpose. Yes, there are some hams with similar looking
gear. But (before the MDS services went off the air here in L.A.)
I used to see hundreds of bizarre MDS receivers scattered all over the
place as I drove around, and they were all aimed at the premium
programming MDS transmitter in the Hollywood Hills.

So no matter what else is said, it's pretty clear that the vast majority
of those MDS receivers were people receiving the progamming without
subscribing.

--Lauren--

Steve Miller

unread,
Mar 14, 1986, 10:28:59 AM3/14/86
to
>
> So no matter what else is said, it's pretty clear that the vast majority
> of those MDS receivers were people receiving the progamming without
> subscribing.
>
I'm sure that's true, but the rights of those whose dishes weren't
used for pirating programs are what's at stake. Back in the 70's,
when CB radio was at its peak, many unethical CB hobbyists discovered
that an amateur radio linear amplifier designed to operate on the
10 meter band would work on 11 meters as well. This made it easy for
unscrupulous CB operators to run 1000 watt stations (the limit is five).
Amateur operation on 10 meters at 1000 watts is legal. But... the
law was changed to make it illegal to sell any kind of amplifier that
could be used on 11 meters. Consequently, amplifiers that allowed
10 meter operation were withdrawn from the market. Whose interests
were served?

-Steve Miller WA4LDA ihnp4!bambi!steve

Will Martin -- AMXAL-RI

unread,
Mar 14, 1986, 11:07:46 AM3/14/86
to
I seem to be gathering this impression from this discussion -- that there
will be a single "code word", to be changed each month, which is to be
punched into everybody's home top-of-set descrambler to decode HBO. If this
is true, I can't see how this will ever be workable. There is now a problem
with BBS's and other info sources (bathroom walls, etc.) contining
charge card numbers and calling-card numbers, which are used fraudulently
by some people. If there is one nation-wide "special code number" each month
for HBO, I predict confidently that, within 4 hours of its being given out
to the first paying customer, that code number will be posted on BBS's,
college and office bulletin boards, scribbled on scraps of paper passed
among co-workers and friends and neighbors, and relayed via phone calls all
over the nation and to any other areas the satellite footprint reaches.

Surely there must be more to the descrambling than just expecting
everyone to honestly pay each month for getting this code-word?

Will

Doug Evans

unread,
Mar 14, 1986, 4:18:00 PM3/14/86
to

Date: Fri, 14 Mar 86 10:07:46 CST
From: Will Martin -- AMXAL-RI <wma...@ALMSA-1.ARPA>

Will

No, no, no! - None of the above stuff will ever happen. This is both
simpler and more high-tech at the same time. HBO doesn't require that
you do anything at all other than pay your bill and give them some info
on your box. There is almost no difference between what HBO is doing
and what your local cable company does with premium channels.

The M/A Com boxes are all addressable, just like your cable boxes. When
you have paid HBO and given them you box serial number, they can then
program their master computer to send a secret code to your own box (via
their satellite link) and enable it. If you don't pay your bill, they
disable your box from their computer.

Encoding keys are not changed once a month - they are changed every
couple of minutes. That's part of the digital scrambling process for
the audio. The video scrambling is the same simple stuff as the cable
companies use right now.

A few people have already broken the scrambling for the video portion of
the signal. The real challenge will be to decode the audio.

Will Martin -- AMXAL-RI

unread,
Mar 14, 1986, 5:02:25 PM3/14/86
to
Thanks for the response! That sounds *much* more sensible than the
methodology that those other postings implied. Does this mean that
everybody who watches HBO, either from off their local cable system
or off their own backyard dish, has an addressable descrambler box
in their home, and, for the ones on the cable, the enabling signal
comes down the cable line along with HBO's signal? That is the only way
I can envision that the previously-discussed concept (of a home dish owner
in Outer Nowhere, Montana, calling a cable system somewhere in, say,
Alabama, to get a good rate for that month's worth of HBO) would
work -- that that cable system sends off his decoder serial number,
along with the serial numbers of the decoder boxes of its hardwired
subscribers, to HBO HQ each month, so they are all entered into the
HBO "enabling" database.

If the cable system had only one descrambler at its head end, it
wouldn't be interested in re-selling the authorization to receive HBO
to other people not on its own wires, would it? Right now, are there
then two types of cable systems operating -- one with a single head-end
descrambler, and others with in-home descramblers? And this second type
are the ones who are selling authorizations over the phone via chargecard?

What keeps people from paying the going rate for one descrambler box,
but then feeding that recovered and now "normal" signal into local,
"unofficial" cable, MATV, or other distribution systems? That way,
some hundreds or more TVs could get HBO for the cost of one. The only way
I can see HBO catching this is physically investigating and looking
at the installation.

Will

ARPA/MILNET: wma...@almsa-1.ARPA USENET: seismo!brl-bmd!wmartin

Jim Boland

unread,
Mar 14, 1986, 5:33:12 PM3/14/86
to
In article <7...@olivee.UUCP>, gn...@olivee.UUCP (Gary Traveis) writes:
>
> Also wrong is the line that states that HBO is not after the individuals
> with dishes. HBO's standard policy is to use a firm that hires local
> geeks (for minimum wage) to drive around neighborhoods taking pictures
> of any antennas that look suspicious. How do I know this? Because
> I got the chance to see that pictorial list that they carry. If
> an antenna looks like one of the drawings on the list -- CLICK.
> The photos and addresses are forwarded to a discount trash-bin
> legal office that sends out hundreds of letters threatening criminal
> prosecution to those who don't settle-up, take down the antennas, and
> subscribe.
It is true that this task is performed. I can't comment on the type of
people they employ but in this town they did the picture taking by
helicopter. They got a good lawyer, took the cases to court and "basically"
won. All rooftop antennas were to come down. Microwave dish Distributors
were ordered to pay fines.
This was done not by HBO but by the local outfit who had the franchise to
distribute the programming. Notice that this is for microwave fed
programming from a local station on 2GHz. This did not apply to satellite
signals as we have been discussing.

> Many HAMs in my area (myself included) have run into this
> problem because the mobile zombies can't tell the difference between
> a microwave dish for amateur use and a dish used to watch commercial
> broadcasts.
You are absolutely correct. The problem then stems from the point of proving
that you are "hammin'" and not "stealin'". However, those with a ham license
and demonstrating that they had the proper equipment for ham tv were not
pursued.

Snoopy

unread,
Mar 18, 1986, 10:20:53 AM3/18/86
to
In article <86031413...@SHAPIERON.SCH.Symbolics.COM> D...@SCRC-STONY-BROOK.ARPA writes:

>No, no, no! - None of the above stuff will ever happen. This is both
>simpler and more high-tech at the same time. HBO doesn't require that
>you do anything at all other than pay your bill and give them some info
>on your box. There is almost no difference between what HBO is doing
>and what your local cable company does with premium channels.
>
>The M/A Com boxes are all addressable, just like your cable boxes. When
>you have paid HBO and given them you box serial number, they can then
>program their master computer to send a secret code to your own box (via
>their satellite link) and enable it. If you don't pay your bill, they
>disable your box from their computer.

If this is in fact what they're doing, what's the big stink? Just
modify the box to ignore HBO's enable/disable feature.

Snoopy
tektronix!tekecs!doghouse.TEK!snoopy

HBO's legal-eagles will please note that I do not own a satellite
dish, and have no plans to buy one.

Dave Emery, Software

unread,
Mar 19, 1986, 12:49:09 AM3/19/86
to
--
David I. Emery Charles River Data Systems
983 Concord St., Framingham, MA 01701 (617) 626-1102 uucp: decvax!frog!die

uhclem@trsvax

unread,
Mar 19, 1986, 11:28:00 AM3/19/86
to

<That's not a screwdriver, it's a torque-inducing, shear-initiator!>

In case you hadn't noticed, the FCC (you know, those guys) removed
the UHF 83 channel rule for TV makers. The last channel you are supposed
to put on the dial is UHF 69 now. The UHF 69-83... range now contains
cellular phone traffic.

If the legislation you speak of goes into effect, you will be breaking
the law if you punch in a channel number above UHF 69 on your TV set,
as that is no longer a civilian band. Next thing twe know they will
require us to buy new tuners that stop at UHF 69!

For those of us in the border states, there are a few Mexican stations
that are above UHF 69. I was visiting friends in south Texas and
they were watching the bullfights on Mexican TV, some station right
around UHF 80. (ASPCA Note: I do not watch bullfights or bet on them.)

Remember when Wayne Green wanted to turn the UHF band above 40 over
to the Hammies? Now we go the other way! (I think the Hammies would
make better use of it.)

"Now children, do not play around or stand near the power pole, or you
might inductively receive cable signals and have to go to jail under
Texas law."

<The above opinions are those of me and possibly my employer. I know
they are fighting for the constitutional right for citizens to carry
and bear frequency scanners, as well as their right to sell them.>

"Thank you, Uh Clem."
Frank Durda IV
@ <trsvax!uhclem>

John Moore

unread,
Mar 21, 1986, 5:20:24 PM3/21/86
to
>You are absolutely correct. The problem then stems from the point of proving
>that you are "hammin'" and not "stealin'". However, those with a ham license
>and demonstrating that they had the proper equipment for ham tv were not
>pursued.
Wrong! THEY have to PROVE that you were stealin and not hammin!

Larry Lippman

unread,
Mar 23, 1986, 4:08:52 PM3/23/86
to
In article <6...@anasazi.UUCP>, jo...@anasazi.UUCP (John Moore) writes:
> >You are absolutely correct. The problem then stems from the point of proving
> >that you are "hammin'" and not "stealin'". However, those with a ham license
> >and demonstrating that they had the proper equipment for ham tv were not
> >pursued.
> Wrong! THEY have to PROVE that you were stealin and not hammin!

The method of proving unauthorized reception of MDS services is rather
easy: using a directional antenna aimed at the "suspect antenna", the RF energy
radiating from its local oscillator can be easily measured. If the difference
between the measured frequency and the MDS broadcast frequency corresponds to
an IF frequency of a television channel (usually channel 6 or 7), this is
presumptive evidence (along with antenna azimuth) of unauthorized reception,
and is probable cause to seek a search warrant for criminal prosecution.
One "nice" thing about criminal prosecution (as opposed to a civil law
suit) in these matters is that the MDS company incurs no legal expenses; the
county and state pay for the criminal prosecution.
So, I suppose that people bent upon unauthorized MDS reception can
solve this "detection problem" by means of a double conversion system which
effectively renders it impossible to determine the receiving frequency from
the first oscillator radiation. :-) :-) :-)

==> Larry Lippman @ Recognition Research Corp., Clarence, New York <==
==> UUCP {decvax|dual|rocksanne|rocksvax|watmath}!sunybcs!kitty!larry <==
==> VOICE 716/688-1231 {rice|shell}!baylor!/ <==
==> FAX 716/741-9635 {G1, G2, G3 modes} duke!ethos!/ <==
==> seismo!/ <==
==> "Have you hugged your cat today?" ihnp4!/ <==

Snoopy

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Mar 24, 1986, 8:57:58 PM3/24/86
to
In article <58300043@trsvax> uhclem@trsvax writes:

>In case you hadn't noticed, the FCC (you know, those guys) removed
>the UHF 83 channel rule for TV makers. The last channel you are supposed
>to put on the dial is UHF 69 now. The UHF 69-83... range now contains
>cellular phone traffic.
>
>If the legislation you speak of goes into effect, you will be breaking
>the law if you punch in a channel number above UHF 69 on your TV set,
>as that is no longer a civilian band. Next thing twe know they will
>require us to buy new tuners that stop at UHF 69!

I can see it now: Captain Kangaroo gets arrested for watching
channel one, the FCC is buried under a mountain of protest letters
written in crayon...

Snoopy
tektronix!tekecs!doghouse.TEK!snoopy

"Freedom's just another word for
nothin' left to lose."

John Moore

unread,
Mar 28, 1986, 9:54:12 AM3/28/86
to
In article <9...@kitty.UUCP> la...@kitty.UUCP (Larry Lippman) writes:
>In article <6...@anasazi.UUCP>, jo...@anasazi.UUCP (John Moore) writes:
>> >You are absolutely correct. The problem then stems from the point of proving
>> >that you are "hammin'" and not "stealin'". However, those with a ham license
>> >and demonstrating that they had the proper equipment for ham tv were not
>> >pursued.
>> Wrong! THEY have to PROVE that you were stealin and not hammin!
>
> The method of proving unauthorized reception of MDS services is rather
>easy: using a directional antenna aimed at the "suspect antenna", the RF energy
>radiating from its local oscillator can be easily measured. If the difference
>between the measured frequency and the MDS broadcast frequency corresponds to
>an IF frequency of a television channel (usually channel 6 or 7), this is
>presumptive evidence (along with antenna azimuth) of unauthorized reception,
>and is probable cause to seek a search warrant for criminal prosecution.
Were I attempting to steal MDS and such an argument was issued, I
would point out that I was listening to amateur TV on [LO + IF] (2300 Mhz
ham band) rather than MDS on [LO - IF]. So much for presumptive evidence. The
prosecution would have to show that that is now IMPOSSIBLE. I am only trying
here to point out that there is a significant difference between information
which hints at a violation and EVIDENCE which PROVES a violation.
A better method would be to use a directional antenna on 40 Mhz
in an attempt to pull out the TV IF, or to try to find the baseband
video. Then you could show that the actual program content was being
watched.
By the way, consider that it really is possible for a ham to
be unjustly prosecuted if your method of evidence were accepted. I have
had friends who were threatened by the local MDS operator for having
450 Mhz corner reflectors pointed at the same mountain as the MDS site!
Those people care nothing for the rights of other users of the spectrum
in their attempts to stop piracy.
As far as I am concerned, I have no sympathy for someone who uses
the public airways to transmit UNENCRYPTED data, and then uses the public
police agencies to keep people from watching it! If they want privacy, let
them encrypt. (I realize that there is no legal validity to that
viewpoint).
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