The high definition TV squabble goes on and on and on.
The latest sparring affects the PC industry even more than the consumer set makers and broadcasters. Hopefully the warring sides will reach a compromise, another in the long tumultuous path to full HDTV deployment in the country.
It took 15 years to thrash out the ATSC (Advanced TV Systems Committee) HDTV standard now in operation. Three passionate consortia backing widely varying technology had to finally get together to make the ATSC standard happen.
There is intense pressure to speed up the broadcast adoption, with legislation now in Congress that would bar all present analog TV transmission after Dec. 31, 2006. The FCC last August also ruled that all 36-inch or larger TV sets must have HDTV tuners by July, 2004 and all smaller sets must be so equipped by 2007.
But now the battle has turned to consumer use of HDTV, specifically the recording of very high quality digital content on CD and DVD recorders and PC hard disks. And that impacts the PC and related chip industry head-on.
The PC vision is a 802.11 wireless home network linking computer setup with home entertainment to allow content to be accessed by a bevy of systems throughout the residence. As part of this network, HDTV could be played or recorded for playback on any of the media products in the home.
The motion picture industry, broadcasters and video content providers are divided on just how much HDTV recording should be allowed. They are paranoid about recorded HDTV content being sent out pervasively over the Internet, creating a video Napster.
Some factions want to add digital protection to prevent any recording of copyrighted HDTV content. That runs directly counter to consumer advocates and the PC and chip suppliers who claim "fair use" of home recording for personal use must be allowed.
The current Digital Millennium Copyright Act now on the books could be interpreted as barring all home recording of HDTV content, even for personal use, according to many observers. In fact that law is seen as so strict that the Library of Congress copyright office is now soliciting public comment about possible relaxed interpretation of some aspects of the legislation.
The consumer electronics and PC industries believe banning home HDTV recording kills the full robust digital experience unleashed by the new media. It makes no sense to create a vivid new visual and audio technology, only to build a Maginot Line to tightly constrain it.
There are feasible techniques to allow HDTV recording for home use only and prevent any relay over the Internet. One proposal is the so-called " broadcast flag", a digital code inserted into the HDTV image and audio stream that permits home recording but senses and bars any connection to the Internet.
Consumer electronic firms are hoping the FCC will adopt a rule implementing the HDTV broadcast flag. But copyright power brokers haven't signed on, and yet another round of HDTV feuding is in the offing.
An increasingly stalled PC market could use the sales spark of the home networked computer and consumer electronic appliances. That can happen in the present analog TV world, but could be zapped if HDTV throws a monkey wrench into the home complex.
Having struggled so long to make high resolution TV a reality, all the special interest forces must allow the new technology reach its fullest potential.