CBS threatens to stop HDTV

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Faced with a hostile reaction to the broadcast industry's preferred
copy-protection method, Viacom Inc.-owned CBS is threatening to cease all
high-definition programming during the 2003-2004 season.

A CBS boycott of HDTV would be a blow to the government's effort to generate
consumer and equipment-maker interest in the switch to digital transmissions.

Besides airing all 18 of its prime time comedies and dramas in HD, CBS has
offered an impressive lineup of HD sports. That includes the 2001 Super Bowl,
the NCAA Men's Final Four and the Masters Golf tournament during the last three
years.

A variety of industry groups, including Silicon Valley companies and
consumer-equipment makers, argued that the so-called broadcast flag will not
be effective in preventing unauthorized streaming of copied programming over the
net and is not necessary to ensure that high-quality digital programming is made
available for free over-the-air broadcasts.

In the meantime, consumers might face diminished home recording rights, the
critics said.

Broadcasters and Hollywood, however, said HD movies and other valuable
programming will not be made available to stations unless the government imposes
an effective copy-protection mechanism for over-the-air
transmissions.

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