Premiere considering change to Videoguard -Media analyst Freyer demanding CAM for an

Within the next four weeks, the pay-TV channel Premiere will decide whether it will use NDS Videoguard as its encryption system in the future. Digitalmagazin.weekly talked to the media analyst Ulrich Freyer about these plans. In the exclusive interview with DM, the expert demands that for every Conditional Access (CA) system - thus also for NDS Videoguard - corresponding Conditional Access Modules (CAM) have to be available in order "to make a fair competition possible and to prevent the foreclosure of markets". Until March 2007, Ulrich Freyer was head of the technological department of the Media Authority of North Rhine-Westphalia (LfM). He is the author of numerous publications, analyst for media technology and works as consultant and specialised journalist. Mr. Freyer is chairman of the advisory board of the dibkom (Deutsches Institut for Breitbandkommunikation - the German institute for broadband communications). Premiere considers switching to the encryption system NDS Videoguard. Why is the crypt change necessary? Freyer: Crypt changes are always due when the present system has been "cracked" and thus a significant number of "TV pirates" exists. For Premiere as a provider, this implicates negative effects on the economic conditions. Thus, the crypt change marks a restart (reset) by means of which the occurred problem should be solved. How can such a change proceed efficiently - with regard to the very heterogeneous population of Premiere boxes? Freyer: In any case, the change represents a substantial organisational and logistical challenge. As Premiere knows due to its customer relations where which box is used, the appropriate required measure is purposefully possible. It should also be pointed out that Premiere is already experienced due to previous comparable actions. Thus, a relative efficiency could be achieved. Do all boxes have to be replaced or are software updates also easily conceivable to bring Videoguard on existing receivers? Freyer: Both versions are possible, change of boxes and software update. The latter might under certain marginal conditions even be possible with regard to the old d-box. Perhaps, the change of the boxes will be the "safest" solution because each software update always includes an indefinite quantity of imponderables and the update needs to be specifically set up for each family of boxes. Premiere will therefore estimate the possible risks for the individual measures before initialising actions. There is no official Conditional Access Module (CAM) for NDS Videoguard. What happens to the viewers who so far received Premiere with CI receivers and CAM? Freyer: These viewers need a new receiver with integrated (embedded) NDS Videoguard. Such a solution is not only needlessly complex but also constitutes discrimination from the regulation's point of view. There is a fundamental requirement that for every CA system also CAMs have to be available in order to allow fair competition and to prevent the foreclosure of markets. What could be the reason that Premiere can earlier contract out of the long-term agreement with Kudelski, the provider of the current encryption system Nagravision? Freyer: One reason could be specific contractual conditions which are now becoming effective because the system has been "cracked". Perhaps, the exit out of the agreement was also enabled by corresponding compensation payments. Premiere also announced a new marketing strategy with low entry level prices. How do you judge this? Freyer: Low entry level prices mean a low entry barrier for the potential user. Therefore, such a measure for customer retention first of all has to be seen positively. However, the entire offer has to be individually examined critically if it meets the personal expectations.