Archive for March, 2009
Dish Service Takedown Schedule
Programming services that are supported on the Aladin (old) Smart Cards will be taken down based on the staggered schedule below.
The dates in parentheses are when reminder pop-up messages will begin appearing on an affected customer’s TV screen.
4/1/09 = Adult programming (pop-up reminder messages begin 3/18).
4/8/09 = HD programming, Starz, and Encore (pop-up reminder messages begin 3/25).
4/15/09 = Latino programming, Showtime, HBO, and Cinemax (pop-up messages for Latino begin 3/25 and for Showtime, HBO, and Cinemax begin 4/1).
4/22/09 = Classic Gold 250 (pop-up reminder messages begin 4/8).
4/29/09 = Classic Silver 200 (pop-up reminder messages begin 4/15).
5/27/09 = Last round of on-screen messaging begins on 5/6 for any remaining services.
All remaining services (including local network programming) will be shut off to Aladin Smart Cards by 5/27.
Popularity: 2% [?]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government and four states sued Dish Network Corp on Wednesday, accusing the satellite television provider of assisting its authorized dealers in calling consumers with recorded telemarketing messages.
The marketing calls were made to some consumers who signed up for the Federal Trade Commission’s national do-not-call registry to fend off unwanted sales pitches, the agency said.
“Because a few bad actors still don’t get it, we want to make it crystal clear. If you call consumers whose numbers are on the Do Not Call Registry, you’re breaking the law,” said Eileen Harrington, acting director of the FTC’s consumer protection unit.
Dish Network said the company obeyed the law and should not be held responsible for violations by independent retailers.
“An independent audit demonstrates that DISH Network is in compliance with ‘do-not-call’ laws, has proper controls in place, and is well within the safe-harbor provisions of the law,” the Englewood, Colorado-based company said in a statement.
“We also believe that the FTC is equating merely doing business with an independent retailer to ‘causing’ or ‘assisting and facilitating’ violations by that retailer,” Dish Network said. “We look forward to resolving these differences of opinion through the judicial process.”
The FTC said the lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Springfield, Illinois and was joined by state attorneys general from California, Illinois, Ohio and North Carolina.
The federal lawsuit seeks to stop Dish from making the calls either directly or indirectly through its dealers, asks for unspecified civil penalties and asks that the company be required to enforce compliance with the do-not-call registry regulations. Two other related lawsuits were also filed against two of Dish Network’s authorized dealers, the agency said.
The FTC’s do-not-call registry became effective in 1995, allowing consumers to register their telephone numbers without charge. Telemarketers can access the registry via the Internet but are prohibited from calling the phone numbers.
Dish provides service to more than 13.7 million satellite television customers.
Federal Trade Commission v Dish Network, U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois, No. 09-03073.
Popularity: 2% [?]
DISH Network customers who tune to Channel 100 will be able to use the new Fandango application available through their television set. In fact, subscribers will be able to purchase tickets securely using just their remote control and the application will use the customer’s zip code to search for nearby theaters and showtimes. After your tickets are purchased you need only show the credit card used to purchase the tickets in order to pick them up at the movie theater. There’s no confirmation codes to remember.
The new Fandango iPhone application will offer users many of the same abilities. The free application will not only allow users to view movie listings at nearby theaters, but will allow movie fans to get information on movies which are “Coming Soon”. This includes the ability to watch trailers and read a synopses of the movie.
Popularity: 1% [?]
The modern-day pirate doesn’t sport a patch or walk with a limp.
His weapon of choice is an unassuming, pizza-sized satellite dish that can literally harpoon signals from space – and provide lucrative and illicit profit.
And it’s happening across the country. The Canadian Motion Pictures Distribution Association estimates that the total loss to the industry from satellite piracy in 2001 alone was about $1 billion – and that number is likely far higher today.
But lately, satellite companies, including Bell ExpressVu and U.S.-based DISH Network have been fighting back. The companies are switching to a tough new encryption system while using the threat of court action to target end users.
“We take this very seriously and we have taken a number of actions to counter signal theft,” Bell spokesperson Julie Smithers said. Satellite companies like to remind users that theft of signal not only means less subscription revenue for providers, but a fall in ratings for stations which translates into lost advertising revenue, and for artists who are given a portion of profits from subscriptions through the Canadian Television Fund.
Los Angeles-based media analysts The Carmel Group estimates there are at least two million illegal television households in the U.S. and Canada, out of a universe of about 15 million legal households. And the number is growing exponentially.
In the digital age, pirates are likely to look a lot like James, a middle- aged Toronto engineer with two children who happens to enjoy watching the Tennis Channel.
“I can’t believe I was actually paying for cable before,” he enthuses. James has access to a universe of more than 200 channels, including current pay-per-view movies that are only available at the video store for a cost. Last summer he put up a second satellite at his cottage, with a dish and receiver from a computer store in downtown Toronto that he purchased for less than $200.
James is currently watching a live tennis match in his living room which is decorated with trophies from his local club. Flipping through channels on a black set-top box reveals that he has fully unscrambled access to dozens of Hollywood movies (currently playing are The Dark Knight and Milk) for which legitimate subscribers have to pay up to $5.99 each.
At the heart of the problem are “Free To Air” satellite receivers that are widely available throughout Canada. While the possession of the equipment is not a crime, modifying it to access subscription signals is.
Free to Air is a system widely available in Europe, where television and radio broadcasts are typically sent unencrypted. There are some 250 Free to Air channels in North America, typically for ethnic programming.
“The way piracy works in North America is when consumers turn their Free to Air receivers into Free to Air units that steal,” says a Carmel Group report.
A USB port on the system allows consumers to change the internal programming of the module after downloading software from the Internet.
“What the manufacturers and retailers are doing may not be illegal, but it is wilful blindness,” argues Luc Perrault, co-chair of the Coalition Against Satellite Signal Theft and a vice-president of the Weather Network. “These things are being imported by the container load into Canada and it’s a serious issue.”
The coalition, which represents Canadian cable and satellite providers is lobbying government to toughen laws against piracy, including harsher sentences for pirates.
There have been some charges, but they aren’t coming quickly enough for the industry. Chris Frank, vice-president of programming for Bell ExpressVu, says the company has “done everything to ensure the integrity of our platform. Secret services around the world spend billions of dollars upgrading encryption systems to make sure their data is secure,” he told the Star’s Chris Sorensen last year. “We are a commercial company, we can’t spend billions, but we spend what it takes within reasonable bounds.”
Frank would not say how many people steal from Bell only that it was “speculative to try and figure it out. But the illegal reception is well within industry bounds.”
So far, Bell’s electronic countermeasures with a new encryption route introduced last November, seem to be working, blocking access to many channels. DISH Network is also in the process of migrating to the new system.
But hackers have been here before. Hacker groups are currently working on the new system, and some feel it is only a matter of time before the code is broken.
Meanwhile, one final route that would have a powerful deterrent effect is to go after consumers who steal signal.
In a get-tough policy, Bell has targeted end users by threatening legal action against customers who have been sold FTA receivers and are registered members of websites that promote piracy.
“We are contacting you because the operation or possession of illegal signal theft equipment to access Bell ExpressVu’s programming constitutes a violation,” says a letter sent to customers of a distributor selling satellite equipment.
The letter states that Bell is willing to drop legal proceedings if the user pays a $1,000 fine and hands over the equipment to Bell.
But the new tactics aren’t scaring some pirates.
“They’ll have to pry the remote control out of my hands before I give it up,” says James.
Popularity: 2% [?]
DISH Network announced on 12 March that it has launched new high-definition channels with feeds from Showtime Showcase HD, SHO2 HD, The Movie Channel HD and BET HD. The DTH satellite television broadcaster also confirmed additional HD channels will be added to its line-up this spring.
BET, Comedy Central, CMT, MTV, Nickelodeon, Spike TV and VH-1 will join the other 128 HD channels broadcast by DISH Network when they launch later this year. The pay-TV company said that the new channels are a response to subscriber requests for more HD channels.
The company did not disclosed any details of the deals to broadcast the channels. DISH Network subscription details and coverage details are available via the company’s website.
Popularity: 1% [?]
Researchers at the University of Miami and at the Universities of Tokyo and Tohoku, Japan, have been able to prove the existence of a “spin battery,” a battery that is “charged” by applying a large magnetic field to nano-magnets in a device called a magnetic tunnel junction (MTJ).
The new technology is a step towards the creation of computer hard drives with no moving parts, which would be much faster, less expensive and use less energy than current ones. In the future, the new battery could be developed to power cars.
The study is published in the journal Nature.
The device created by University of Miami Physicist Stewart E. Barnes, of the College of Arts and Sciences and his collaborators can store energy in magnets rather than through chemical reactions. Like a winding up toy car, the spin battery is “wound up” by applying a large magnetic field — no chemistry involved. The device is potentially better than anything found so far, said Barnes.
“We had anticipated the effect, but the device produced a voltage over a hundred times too big and for tens of minutes, rather than for milliseconds as we had expected,” Barnes said. “That this was counterintuitive is what lead to our theoretical understanding of what was really going on.”
The secret behind this technology is the use of nano-magnets to induce an electromotive force. It uses the same principles as those in a conventional battery, except in a more direct fashion. The energy stored in a battery, be it in an iPod or an electric car, is in the form of chemical energy. When something is turned “on” there is a chemical reaction which occurs and produces an electric current. The new technology converts the magnetic energy directly into electrical energy, without a chemical reaction. The electrical current made in this process is called a spin polarized current and finds use in a new technology called “spintronics.”
The new discovery advances our understanding of the way magnets work and its immediate application is to use the MTJs as electronic elements which work in different ways to conventional transistors. Although the actual device has a diameter about that of a human hair and cannot even light up an LED (light-emitting diode–a light source used as electronic component), the energy that might be stored in this way could potentially run a car for miles. The possibilities are endless, Barnes said.
“There are magnets hidden away in many things, for example there are several in a mobile telephone, many in a car, and they are what keeps your refrigerator closed,” he said. “There are so many that even a small change in the way we understand of how they work, and which might lead to only a very small improvement in future machines, has a significant financial and energetic impact.”
Popularity: 1% [?]