BBC HD Service Hacked

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rjpobrien
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Joined: Jul 30 2005

Just read this story about someone managing to hack the feed and receive the HD service on their computer. Apparently the video and audio stuttered, even on a high end dual core PC, but for those desperate to see it it might be interesting as apparently you can still receive it outside the Londond catchment area. The full story will appear in the next issue of What Video & High Definition Magazine. The link is here for anyone interested.

http://avzombie.com/blog/2006/05/16/bbc-freeview-hd-service-hacked/

Richard

infocus
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Joined: Jul 18 2003

Surely "hacked" is rather a strong term here? I don't think there was much likelihood of encryption as such, and the hardware needed to receive it, together with the pretty small geographical area means that apart from those supplied with official decoders the number of people likely to be "hacking" is pretty small?

rjpobrien
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Joined: Jul 30 2005

I was mainly going by the title of the article but my understanding of it was that only those with the correct decoder box issued by the BBC could receive it. Surely being able to receive it without this box is a form of hacking? TBH, I was more interested in trying to see the HD footage as I am just outside the area and thought others might also be interested.

Richard

Alan Roberts
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Joined: May 3 1999

No, it's not encrypted. The coding is currently MPEG4 level 10 (H.264). There's no secret about that.

But the tests are being conducted "closed", i.e. to known subjects only, those with the official boxes (not distributed yet). The reason for doing it this way is that it prevents it from being seen as a "new service" for which official permission from the authorities has to be sought, and granted only on a calculation of "value for money" based on guidelines set out by the government. There's nothing to stop anyone decoding and watching it at any time. But, there's no guarantee that there will be decodable signals, or even any signals at all. That's why it's called a test.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

StevenBagley
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Alan Roberts wrote:
But the tests are being conducted "closed", i.e. to known subjects only, those with the official boxes (not distributed yet).

Do tests normally get listings on the BBC website thought? :P

http://www.bbc.co.uk/cgi-perl/whatson/search/daylist.cgi?service_id=2075&DAY=today

Steven

Alan Roberts
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No, there will not be any listing for the public. These tests are closed, so the public "has no need to know" about it. Since it's not a new service (not permitted until the offering passes the government's conditions) anything you find out is entirely by leakage. The satellite transmissions are a little different, because it's not a ubiquitous service (i.e. you get it only if you've already got satellite kit).

Don't regard any of this as a programme service, it isn't, it's transmission tests.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

bobmar
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Joined: May 16 2006

The audio that I can hear via my Pioneer plasma does stutter a bit at times. There's no video so I can't comment on that. As stated this could be because it's not an official BBC HD decoder pumping the bits through at the right time.

infocus
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Joined: Jul 18 2003
Alan Roberts wrote:
Don't regard any of this as a programme service, it isn't, it's transmission tests.

You are, of course, right, but...... I earlier mentioned two reports I'd seen on BBC Breakfast News ( available on line via http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/breakfast/4752017.stm ) and they certainly strongly give the impression that if you want to see the World Cup in high quality, then it's a case of an HD ready set, Hd satellite box, and the BBCs HD transmissions. In which case it's certainly being promoted (via satellite) as a bit more than a pure engineering trial.

As regards Freeview, then as presumably the material is the same as on satellite, there is no need to transmit it encrypted. Why should they bother if anyone with the right equipment who can be bothered should receive the service? That's why I just query the use of the word "hacked" in the magazine article - how can you "hack" something transmitted in the clear? I think the real answer lies in it being a more emotive headline, and more likely to sell copies, and if it gets the service publicity, I doubt the BBC will be too worried........

Alan Roberts
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Just so, the satellite transmissions are not available to everybody, so they don't constitute a new service. But the Freeview transmissions could be, so aren't advertised. As far as I can tell, there's no guarantee that the Freeview and satellite transmissions will be the same, they'll certainly use different bitrates and maybe different resolutions, and maybe the Freeview signal will not exist at times. Because it's an engineering test. Engineering tests are just that, tests, not a service. No-one can expect to be able to decode them unless they are part of the tests, and even then there may be times when a transmitted signal isn't decodable even by the official decoder box, this is what tests are all about. Anything you manage to decode is purely by fortune.

The satellite channel is being pushed as a "taster", to see how much public interest there is. At least that's what I understand the situation to be. Like I said, I'm not in the loop on all this, I pass on what I hear, albeit from more informed sources than are generally available.

And I expect to have something to say about the forthcoming Samsung crt HD 36" set soon. I'm promised a look under controlled conditions, and if I'm impressed, I'm having one.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.