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Old 10-22-2012, 05:57 PM   #1
thekitten
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Is it time for a class action lawsuit against Comcast for copy protection?

Hello,

I've been battling this problem for years with both my Tivo and now Windows Media Center. It seems Comcast is getting worse, not better. This must be a "secret" effort for them to continue their monopoly and control the TV recording market as well.

As of late, just about every channel and any show I try to record outside of broadcast local television is blocked by CCI flag. This occurs with analog cable and with the digital box. I recently raised a tech support issue with Comcast, but I don't think that will go anywhere. Also, when and if Comcast "fixes" this, it appears they are fixing only for people that spend lots of time to complain?

Definitely not fair, and how it is within Comcast's legal right to block all these channels from being recorded?
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Old 10-22-2012, 09:09 PM   #2
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Do you mean copy NEVER? That is only allowed for PPV.

If you mean copy once (e.g. can't transfer between Tivos or download to computer), that is unfortunately definitely allowed except for rebroadcast of OTA channels.

In the past, some here have said that they HAVE successfully complained and gotten channels UN-blocked when the channel itself said it didn't want them blocked.

I suggest you complain to the cable company AND the FCC, to make your voice heard. Don't just whine, explain exactly why you want to do what you want to do (use your own PVR or whatever).
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Old 10-22-2012, 11:17 PM   #3
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Class action lawsuit = lawyers getting 80% of settlement with the remaining 20% divided equally among all plaintiffs.
Am I exaggerating?

Seriously, this is not something that can be resolved by the court system. Comcast is doing nothing illegal.

If you want to make a change, you need to petition the FCC and have the constituency and the funds to back up your position.
I'm sure you could get the constituency from people who suffer from the same plight, but the content owners will fight tooth and nail against it. Getting funding for your position might be a problem.
I'm sure Comcast has funds readily available to fight such a petition.
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Old 10-22-2012, 11:35 PM   #4
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I've been battling this problem for years with both my Tivo and now Windows Media Center. It seems Comcast is getting worse, not better. This must be a "secret" effort for them to continue their monopoly and control the TV recording market as well.

As of late, just about every channel and any show I try to record outside of broadcast local television is blocked by CCI flag. This occurs with analog cable and with the digital box.
Explain more about your situation, please. Are you talking about recording digital cable using a TiVo S3 or Premiere equipped with a CableCARD? When you say, "analog cable" what exactly are you referring to? (I didn't think that there was any analog cable left anywhere). What sort of equipment are your using to record with WMC? Tuner card with CableCARD?
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Old 10-22-2012, 11:54 PM   #5
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Explain more about your situation, please. Are you talking about recording digital cable using a TiVo S3 or Premiere equipped with a CableCARD? When you say, "analog cable" what exactly are you referring to? (I didn't think that there was any analog cable left anywhere). What sort of equipment are your using to record with WMC? Tuner card with CableCARD?

I am not currently using a Tivo, but I get a flag message for just about every show I try to record. I can't "record once". I can't record at all! From everything I've read, this is not an error with Windows. It's a flag being sent down from Comcast. I'm in NE Florida, so if anyone is from NE Florida and able to record without a "Comcast approved" device - I'd like to know.

I am using a comcast cable box with a hauppage usb receiver, although I do believe any cable card would show the same message.
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Old 10-23-2012, 06:39 AM   #6
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Class action lawsuit = lawyers getting 80% of settlement with the remaining 20% divided equally among all plaintiffs.
Am I exaggerating?
Maybe just a bit. I believe the lawyers get one-third of any settlement and the rest is divided amongst the plaintiffs. The bottom line is that the lawyers reap the largest single payout whereas the plaintiffs each get a small slice of the pie. Believe me, if there was any chance that a class action suit of this nature could be won there'd be shysters lined up jumping at the chance to sign you up. I get solicited all the time to join in class action suits, but I toss them directly into the shredder. The only real winners in these suits are the lawyers.

If you're unhappy with Comcast's policies, ask them to change or you'll go with another provider. Even if they're the only cable provider in your area, you always have the option to switch to either DirecTV or Dish.
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Old 10-23-2012, 08:43 AM   #7
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I am not currently using a Tivo, but I get a flag message for just about every show I try to record. I can't "record once". I can't record at all! From everything I've read, this is not an error with Windows. It's a flag being sent down from Comcast. I'm in NE Florida, so if anyone is from NE Florida and able to record without a "Comcast approved" device - I'd like to know.

I am using a comcast cable box with a hauppage usb receiver, although I do believe any cable card would show the same message.
Is the usb tuner connected directly to the cable box or to the cable itself? Is this a cable card device with a cable card installed? Or is this a plain usb tuner stick? Those sticks won't record encrypted channels. You haven't givin us enough information to help you out. Tell us what exactly your set-up is.
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Old 10-23-2012, 08:55 AM   #8
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Don't be ridiculous. In order to win any malice lawsuit, one must prove one has suffered damages and also prove the defendant has engaged in some other than legal activity. Since you cannot show damages and since the law specifically states Comcast can give the CCI byte any value it chooses below 0x03, you haven't even the faintest glimmer of a case.

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I've been battling this problem for years with both my Tivo and now Windows Media Center. It seems Comcast is getting worse, not better. This must be a "secret" effort for them to continue their monopoly and control the TV recording market as well.
There is nothing secret about it, and it is not spearheaded by Comcast or the CATV companies, or at least not the ones that are not lackeys of the MPAA.

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As of late, just about every channel and any show I try to record outside of broadcast local television is blocked by CCI flag. This occurs with analog cable and with the digital box.
No, it does not. The CCI byte is a digital signature. As the name implies, it is an 8 bit number that is part of the payload of a digital video bitstream. It is not possible to make it part of an analog video. There is no place in the analog signal for it to exist, and no industry standard device could make any use of it, if it could.

In many areas, Comcast has converted to 100% digital. Is your area one of them? What makes you think any of your channels are analog?

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Definitely not fair, and how it is within Comcast's legal right to block all these channels from being recorded?
It is within the legal right of Comcast to set the CCI byte to whatever value less than 0x03 on any non-broadcast channel they choose because FCC regulations explicitly say they can. That is how.

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Originally Posted by thekitten View Post
I am not currently using a Tivo, but I get a flag message for just about every show I try to record. I can't "record once". I can't record at all! From everything I've read, this is not an error with Windows. It's a flag being sent down from Comcast. I'm in NE Florida, so if anyone is from NE Florida and able to record without a "Comcast approved" device - I'd like to know.
There is no such thing as a "Comcast approved" device. There is such a thing as a "CableLabs approved device", and indeed every CableCard device must be approved by CableLabs certification, or the CATV company does not have to provide a CableCard for the device. By law they must do so for any approved device.

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I am using a comcast cable box with a hauppage usb receiver, although I do believe any cable card would show the same message.
You are not being clear about what you are doing, the details of your setup, or exactly what you are seeing, but if you are using a Comcast STB, then it is virtually 100% certain you are not watching any analog video. You also haven't provided the details of the device you are using, but it sounds to me a little like you are experiencing issues with Macrovision, not the CCI byte, per se. It sounds almost as if Comcast is implementing Macrovision based upon the CCI byte, and you are attempting to record that stream. It is 100% certain that any CableCard equipped DVR would be able to record any channel whose CCI byte is set to less than 0x03. The CATV company is not allowed to set the byte higher than 0x02 on any ordinary cable channels. It can on pay-per-view and other specialized content.

Last edited by lrhorer : 10-23-2012 at 09:06 AM.
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Old 10-23-2012, 09:16 AM   #9
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Maybe just a bit. I believe the lawyers get one-third of any settlement and the rest is divided amongst the plaintiffs.
The point is, as you say, the lawyers *AS A GROUP* get 1/3 of what may be several million dollars. There may be far fewer than 100 lawyers and legal assistants splitting up the proceeds, while at the same time, there may be tens of thousands of litigants splitting up the rest. Not only does that dilute the proceeds, but since the lawyers are such a small group, they are very willing to settle for pennies on the dollar. They get millions, while the litigants get lunch. I think the settlement from the AT&T Wireless lawsuit got me $63, IIRC. I lost more than $3000.

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Old 10-23-2012, 10:56 AM   #10
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My bet is that OP has a signal level issue and not a CCI one. Comcast does not protect anything but the premium and movie channels and if the local is setting the byte this way they're doing it wrong.

If it's not a signal level issue, OP needs to escalate the matter to the regional ops VP (IMO), nobody is going to know what to do at the first/second level of help. Google the number. Also contact we_can_help@cable.comcast.com or call corporate and escalate.
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Old 10-23-2012, 12:01 PM   #11
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Time Warner Cable, NYC area locks down anything and everything. No copy once, no copy freely, nothing.

There's nothing you can do but change providers if you can.
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Old 10-23-2012, 04:49 PM   #12
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Time Warner Cable, NYC area locks down anything and everything. No copy once, no copy freely, nothing.
Well, not broadcast locals. That would be illegal. It's not just the NYC area, though. It is nationwide TWC policy.
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Old 10-23-2012, 04:57 PM   #13
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Time Warner Cable, NYC area locks down anything and everything. No copy once, no copy freely, nothing.
You're a bit confused on the terminology. If the show was not flagged at least "copy once" then your TiVo wouldn't even be able to record it, because the TiVo recording it counts as a "copy". Cable companies are only allowed to use something stricter then "copy once" on PPV channels. Also they are required to mark anything from local broadcast stations "copy freely" which is what allows shows to be transferred between TiVos or copied to a PC.

TW uses the strictest implementation they're allowed to by law. Which means they mark all channels except the locals as "copy once". As Irhorer pointed out this is a national policy and not just limited to NYC. Some Comcast areas do the same thing, but for them it's by market so only some markets are effected. Most other cable companies adhere to the restrictions imposed by the channel provider. Which mostly means that only premium channels are flagged "copy once" and everything else is flagged "copy freely".

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Old 10-23-2012, 05:44 PM   #14
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As Irhorer pointed out
That's lrhorer, if you please, not irhorer.

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Most other cable companies adhere to the restrictions imposed by the channel provider. Which mostly means that only premium channels are flagged "copy once" and everything else is flagged "copy freely".
Well, I'm not sure that it is "most" and the two are not the same. Time Warner / HBO is the only one typically requiring their content to be protected. Thus, for example, the HBO and Cinemax channels are the only ones protected on Verizon FIOS and also on my provider, Grande Cable TV. Other systems do indeed protect all their premium channels, but not reportedly by any requirement from the content providers, other than Time Warner, of course.
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Old 10-23-2012, 05:53 PM   #15
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That's funny I always thought that was a capital I. Stupid non-serif fonts.

I thought all the premiums required that. If it is just HBO requiring it, then I wonder why my cable company (Charter) protects all premiums but nothing else. Perhaps the MPAA is putting pressure on them to do it? Or maybe it's to promote their own VOD offerings rather then people archiving movies for themselves?

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Old 10-23-2012, 10:21 PM   #16
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Start an online petition. I'll sign it.
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Old 10-24-2012, 06:36 AM   #17
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I'd bet a cold beer that it's an RNG110 cable box. There have been several posts over at TiVo lately from S2 users.

The pattern seems to be Comcast + RNG110 = wildly inappropriate Macrovision signals.
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Old 10-24-2012, 01:32 PM   #18
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That's funny I always thought that was a capital I. Stupid non-serif fonts.
Yeah. Traditionally, user IDs in *nix have been all lower case.

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I thought all the premiums required that.
No. Some, like HDNETMV and AXSTV actually require their customers *NOT* to copy protect their content. TWC and Brightouse would rather die than admit it, but it is highly likely that is why they both dropped Mark Cuban's channels immediately when he made it part of the contract agreement.

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If it is just HBO requiring it, then I wonder why my cable company (Charter) protects all premiums but nothing else.
Who knows? Such things should be required to be part of the public record, but they are not.

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Perhaps the MPAA is putting pressure on them to do it?
Perhaps, or perhaps if you dig into the backgrounds of the senior management team and / or the board of directors, you may find members or former members of the MPAA and its constituent companies. That is most definitely the case with TWC.

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Or maybe it's to promote their own VOD offerings rather then people archiving movies for themselves?
Or perhaps all of the above. Whatever the actual set of reasons, there is no particular finanical down-side to copy protecting everything in sight, so even the slightest whim is sufficient cause for doing it. For those rare occasions when someone complains, they can merely lie and say the content providers are demanding it, like TWC does.
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Old 10-24-2012, 01:34 PM   #19
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I'd bet a cold beer that it's an RNG110 cable box. There have been several posts over at TiVo lately from S2 users.

The pattern seems to be Comcast + RNG110 = wildly inappropriate Macrovision signals.
That is rather what it sounds like, yes.
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Old 10-24-2012, 02:23 PM   #20
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For a S2 there is ant least a solution. If your cable company abuses Macrovision for cable box output you can just put a Macrovision stripper between the box and the TiVo and the TiVo will never even get the signal to protect the show. With an HD TiVo the protection bit is part of the signal and can not be stripped.

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Old 10-24-2012, 03:13 PM   #21
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With an HD TiVo the protection bit is part of the signal and can not be stripped.
Protection byte, actually, not bit, and don't tell that to my HD TiVos.

It can't be done on an unmodified S3 class TiVo. Fortunately, I don't have any unmodified S3 class TiVos.
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Old 10-25-2012, 07:36 AM   #22
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You're a bit confused on the terminology. If the show was not flagged at least "copy once" then your TiVo wouldn't even be able to record it, because the TiVo recording it counts as a "copy". Cable companies are only allowed to use something stricter then "copy once" on PPV channels. Also they are required to mark anything from local broadcast stations "copy freely" which is what allows shows to be transferred between TiVos or copied to a PC.

TW uses the strictest implementation they're allowed to by law. Which means they mark all channels except the locals as "copy once". As Irhorer pointed out this is a national policy and not just limited to NYC. Some Comcast areas do the same thing, but for them it's by market so only some markets are effected. Most other cable companies adhere to the restrictions imposed by the channel provider. Which mostly means that only premium channels are flagged "copy once" and everything else is flagged "copy freely".

Dan
Dan and lrhorer - I beg to differ. They block EVERYTHING, even broadcast. Specific example? If I record CSI or CSI:NY on CBS or CBSHD in my family room (Premiere), I cannot transfer it to my bedroom to watch (HDXL). Same thing vice versa. I tried. Every single thing TiVo records gets the nasty red NO COPY icon. Yes, even the SD channels, I tried that too. Does not work either way. Locked. Locked. Locked.

As I recently switched to FiOS as I was sick and tired of this, along with their slow internet and cumbersome tuning adapters, I no longer have this problem. I can copy from one box to another without any restriction. I do have several shows still on my HDXL and HD DVRs that I havent watched yet that still show they are local broadcast channels and cannot be copied.

I would be happy to snap a few pictures and show the flags if youd like in a proper thread. I understand you are saying its against the law, but this is just one example of the nightmares I dealt with. Once my 2-year commitment to them was done, I was on the phone with Verizon.
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Old 10-25-2012, 09:25 AM   #23
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Dan and lrhorer - I beg to differ. They block EVERYTHING, even broadcast. Specific example? If I record CSI or CSI:NY on CBS or CBSHD in my family room (Premiere), I cannot transfer it to my bedroom to watch (HDXL). Same thing vice versa. I tried. Every single thing TiVo records gets the nasty red NO COPY icon. Yes, even the SD channels, I tried that too. Does not work either way. Locked. Locked. Locked.

As I recently switched to FiOS as I was sick and tired of this, along with their slow internet and cumbersome tuning adapters, I no longer have this problem. I can copy from one box to another without any restriction. I do have several shows still on my HDXL and HD DVRs that I havent watched yet that still show they are local broadcast channels and cannot be copied.

I would be happy to snap a few pictures and show the flags if youd like in a proper thread. I understand you are saying its against the law, but this is just one example of the nightmares I dealt with. Once my 2-year commitment to them was done, I was on the phone with Verizon.
Are the CBS channels you mentioned cable copies of local OTA channels that can be received via antenna at your location? If so you need to contact your provider and insist they are violating FCC regulations. If they don't respond satisfactorily complain to the FCC, which can be done on the web.
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Old 10-25-2012, 11:34 AM   #24
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Are the CBS channels you mentioned cable copies of local OTA channels that can be received via antenna at your location? If so you need to contact your provider and insist they are violating FCC regulations. If they don't respond satisfactorily complain to the FCC, which can be done on the web.
Yes they are copies, and as I stated above, I dumped TWC altogether. No point in calling, their customer service is incompetent anyway and wouldn't have the faintest idea what I was talking about anyway.
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Old 10-25-2012, 04:36 PM   #25
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Dan and lrhorer - I beg to differ. They block EVERYTHING, even broadcast. Specific example? If I record CSI or CSI:NY on CBS or CBSHD in my family room (Premiere), I cannot transfer it to my bedroom to watch (HDXL). Same thing vice versa. I tried. Every single thing TiVo records gets the nasty red NO COPY icon. Yes, even the SD channels, I tried that too. Does not work either way. Locked. Locked. Locked.
You missed Dan's point. If it were flagged "copy never" then you would not even be able to record it on your family room DVR.

That said, it is definitely illegal for the CATV company to flag any locally broadcast channel - which definitely includes the national network channels like CBS. The FCC is very quick to stomp on any such violation, and stomp really hard. A single complaint to the FCC in such a case usually produces results in a matter of a few weeks, at most.

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As I recently switched to FiOS as I was sick and tired of this, along with their slow internet and cumbersome tuning adapters, I no longer have this problem. I can copy from one box to another without any restriction.
Not if you have HBO or Cinemax, or at least not for long. FIOS is locking down content on those channels. Indeed, I was of the impression they had completed the process, but I may be mistaken about that.

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I do have several shows still on my HDXL and HD DVRs that I havent watched yet that still show they are local broadcast channels and cannot be copied.
Your evidence seems compelling. It sounds like someone at the local headend screwed up. TWC is most definitely aware they are not allowed to do this.

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I would be happy to snap a few pictures and show the flags if youd like in a proper thread.
If you like. I have no reason to disbelieve you, and there is no question that it is possible for a CATV engineer to make a mistake.

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I understand you are saying its against the law, but this is just one example of the nightmares I dealt with.
You are preaching to the choir. The overwhelmingly primary reason I dumped TWC a few months ago was their lousy customer service.

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Once my 2-year commitment to them was done, I was on the phone with Verizon.
What committment? Time Warner does not have contracts.
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Old 10-25-2012, 04:40 PM   #26
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If so you need to contact your provider and insist they are violating FCC regulations. If they don't respond satisfactorily complain to the FCC, which can be done on the web.
As he said, he is no longer with TWC, but even if he were, I wouldn't recommend he bother calling TWC. 'Just report them to the FCC. It's a lot less trouble. Indeed, even though he is no longer with TWC, he can still report them, just for spite.
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Old 10-25-2012, 06:10 PM   #27
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Just report them to the FCC. It's a lot less trouble. Indeed, even though he is no longer with TWC, he can still report them, just for spite.
Sending copies to TWC and the local cable franchising authority .
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Old 10-26-2012, 06:08 AM   #28
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What committment? Time Warner does not have contracts.
OK, "contract" is a bad word. The "discounts" ran out after 24 months. And being fed up with their nonsense, I couldn't wait to run away from them.
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Old 10-26-2012, 08:20 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NotNowChief View Post
Yes they are copies, and as I stated above, I dumped TWC altogether. No point in calling, their customer service is incompetent anyway and wouldn't have the faintest idea what I was talking about anyway.
If you are so POd, then I would suggest you go to the FCC anyway. Just for fun. The form is easy to complete.
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Old 11-12-2012, 11:51 AM   #30
thekitten
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 21
I haven't been able to deal with this problem, as I have little time for TV. However, I am very surprised by the posts, and a bit confused.

Can someone please clarify some points on this whole "equipment" issue, and from what I am reading the fact that I may get a CCI related message (e.g. broadcaster restrictions) due to the tuner device I am using?

Right now, I'm just using one tuner device for comcast cable, as my other two devices I use for OTA. That device is an older external USB hauppage dvr device. I don't have the exact model in front of me, but suffice it to say it's older and it DOES work fine for watching live television. It is very simply connected from the analog coax output of the comcast cable box to the usb tuner. Then, the usb tuner is plugged directly into the computer. At least, I'm pretty sure it is, but I can check on that again. I am also able to rewind any channel, get sound, etc. However, as previously stated, in Media Center, I get these warnings when I try to record ANYTHING, and years ago, I didn't get them with the SAME equipment.

So, before I file my complaint with the FCC and the BBB, I'd like to better understand these technical issues, and how they might relate to my setup. What exactly is meant by "cable card", etc.?
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