Author Topic: Have you ever heard of a licensed TV station playing pirated TV shows?  (Read 729 times)

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Offline MaximRecoil

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I haven't watched TV in about 20 years, primarily due to lack of interest, but also, it's hard to get any reception where I live. Over the years I've tried connecting a couple of indoor antennas a few times (rabbit ears and twin-lead folded dipole), and before the switch to digital, I got only one station like that, and the reception was so weak that it wasn't really watchable. Since the switchover to digital, channel scans have always turned up 0 channels.

Last night I decided to put an antenna outside, thinking maybe the aluminum siding on this house was the problem (one of the problems anyway; this house is also in a valley). I hastily tacked a twin-lead folded dipole (the kind intended for FM reception that's often included with new tuners/receivers) to the ceiling of my porch, did a channel scan, and it actually found 4 channels, 3 of them being on channel 13 (211.25 MHz for the video carrier) and 1 being on channel 5 (77.25 MHz for the video carrier). The channel 13 ones would only play okay for a minute or so at a time before glitching out, but channel 5 was rock solid. It was broadcasting old TV shows in 480i. The FCC categorizes that station as "Low Power Digital TV," and they are broadcasting from a city that's about 25 miles away (straight line distance).

The first odd thing I noticed was that there were no commercials whatsoever, which made me wonder how the station made any money. Then I saw something bizarre: in between shows they played a short station ID/promo video, and it had music and people dancing. One of the people dancing I recognized as "Rebelindustry" from YouTube, and then I recognized Elena Cruz and Magga Braco, as well as various other dancers from YouTube. I doubt highly that any of them know their videos are being used by a TV station in their station promo videos.

Then Dragnet came on, and it was stretched to 16:9 (wrong aspect ratio), and had heavy compression artifacts (macroblocking, color banding, smearing). At first I thought they were just broadcasting a very low bitrate, but the previous show didn't have any noticeable compression artifacts, and neither did the following show. This, combined with the almost-certainly pirated YouTube videos, got me thinking that maybe the shows they were airing were pirated internet downloads too, but whoever heard of a licensed TV station doing such a thing?

A little while later I got confirmation that that's exactly what they are doing. An episode of Columbo came on, and it had even worse compression artifacts than Dragnet, but the real kicker is that it had a watermark/logo from "The Biography Channel" in the lower right-hand corner, which is a network that has been defunct since 2014, and that version of the logo was last used in 2007. It even had a voiceover at the end of the episode, along with overlaid graphics telling what show was coming up next on The Biography Channel (Murder, She Wrote). Here's the exact video that they broadcast:

https://youtu.be/K7z6zVn2XaU?t=5330

I Googled the station owner's name and it turns out he lives in my town, the next street over from me, and I also found a "Notice of unlicensed operation" FCC Enforcement Bureau document from about 15 years ago, addressed to him, regarding a pirate AM radio station that they had found to be operating from his address. They told him he had ten days to provide proof of his license or authority to operate.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2019, 06:11:02 pm by MaximRecoil »
 

Offline Ampera

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Re: Have you ever heard of a licensed TV station playing pirated TV shows?
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2019, 06:24:21 pm »
Perhaps the best pirate radio station is one that has a license.
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Offline SkyMaster

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Re: Have you ever heard of a licensed TV station playing pirated TV shows?
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2019, 02:06:06 am »
So, you didn't watch TV for 20 years.

One day, you setup an outside antenna; and you are getting one channel from a local station.

And you want to shut down the only station you can receive signal from?  :-//

 ;)
 
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Offline alpher

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Re: Have you ever heard of a licensed TV station playing pirated TV shows?
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2019, 02:21:42 am »
In the 80's legitimate  italian TV stations used to broadcast hardcore porn during the wee hours and  weekends.
Just a piece of now useless knowledge.
 8)
 

Offline blacksheeplogic

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Re: Have you ever heard of a licensed TV station playing pirated TV shows?
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2019, 02:36:10 am »
So, you didn't watch TV for 20 years.

One day, you setup an outside antenna; and you are getting one channel from a local station.

And you want to shut down the only station you can receive signal from?  :-//

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Online tautech

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Re: Have you ever heard of a licensed TV station playing pirated TV shows?
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2019, 02:59:32 am »
Who has to be licensed to broadcast ?

The story of our NZ Radio Hauraki makes interesting reading:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_Hauraki

I remember the all fuss very well when I was a kid and the authorities could do a bloody thing as they were transmitting from a ship just outside our territorial waters.  :-DD
Public support and the sad loss of life in a storm gained them a license and they still operate to this day, some 50+ years later.  :clap:
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Online T3sl4co1l

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Re: Have you ever heard of a licensed TV station playing pirated TV shows?
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2019, 03:17:55 am »
OP didn't mention if they reported to the authorities.  I would guess it's very unlikely any authorities read this forum.  I would not go so far as to call OP a rat. ::)  A possible rat, yes.

I guess it makes sense that, with analog TV gone, DTV being cheaper, and serving smaller areas (fringe is something like 20 miles?), there would also be less oversight, and more "mom & pop" stations, airing whatever the hell they want to, which may not necessarily respect the rights of the materials they're showing.  Because, yeah.

It would seem a far easier thing to go after though, than kids torrenting videos.  Maybe there's an untapped copyright troll market in un/licensed broadcasts?

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Online Ian.M

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Re: Have you ever heard of a licensed TV station playing pirated TV shows?
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2019, 04:38:41 am »
Its also possible that a bootleg recording is the only copy existing of some old shows, and that the TV station is paying the copyright holder for rebroadcasting rights.

e.g. back in the early days of videotape, many production companies did not retain archive copies of their shows due to the high cost of tapes and proper storage for them, and if there is a revived interest in the show, have had to resort to recovering episodes from wherever they could obtain them including bootleg recordings made by fans.

Even the British BBC has been caught out by this for one of their most famous SciFi shows. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_Who_missing_episodes
 

Offline JPortici

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Re: Have you ever heard of a licensed TV station playing pirated TV shows?
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2019, 05:58:54 am »
In the 80's legitimate  italian TV stations used to broadcast hardcore porn during the wee hours and  weekends.
Just a piece of now useless knowledge.
 8)

up until the early 2000s

those were the times

Still better than the game shows or the realities you can catch now at those hours
 

Offline MaximRecoil

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Re: Have you ever heard of a licensed TV station playing pirated TV shows?
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2019, 05:15:32 pm »
So, you didn't watch TV for 20 years.

One day, you setup an outside antenna; and you are getting one channel from a local station.

And you want to shut down the only station you can receive signal from?  :-//

I didn't say anything about wanting to shut the station down. I don't even agree with modern copyright law in the US. These old shows this station is airing would have long passed into public domain under the original US copyright law:

Quote
The Congress first exercised its copyright powers with the Copyright Act of 1790. This act granted authors the exclusive right to publish and vend "maps, charts and books" for a term of 14 years. This 14-year term was renewable for one additional 14-year term, if the author was alive at the end of the first time.


I've never encountered a TV station before that didn't operate with a high level of professionalism, and I'm wondering if stations like this one are a common thing now that we're well into the internet era, where most any movie or TV show can be easily obtained.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2019, 05:29:21 pm by MaximRecoil »
 

Offline Lord of nothing

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Re: Have you ever heard of a licensed TV station playing pirated TV shows?
« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2019, 05:35:14 pm »
Quote
they were transmitting from a ship just outside our territorial waters.
Here in Austria a very long Time no Private Radio Station where Permit so some Station from the other Side of the Boarder was broad up.  >:D
Quote
I didn't say anything about wanting to shut the station down.
Here its very easy no transmission Permit = illegal = shut down in Hours.  :=\
Made in Japan, destroyed in Sulz im Wienerwald.
 

Offline MaximRecoil

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Re: Have you ever heard of a licensed TV station playing pirated TV shows?
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2019, 06:14:22 pm »
Here its very easy no transmission Permit = illegal = shut down in Hours.  :=\

The TV station I'm talking about is licensed to broadcast by the FCC.
 

Offline Lord of nothing

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Re: Have you ever heard of a licensed TV station playing pirated TV shows?
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2019, 06:34:11 pm »
How could the Transmit illegally?
Quote
Over the years I've tried connecting a couple of indoor antennas a few times
Get a Sat Dish and enjoy Hundred or Thousand different Channels for free.  ^-^
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Offline MaximRecoil

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Re: Have you ever heard of a licensed TV station playing pirated TV shows?
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2019, 07:42:20 pm »
How could the Transmit illegally?

They aren't transmitting illegally because they are licensed to transmit, but they appear to be transmitting pirated content. I suppose it's technically possible that the station has permission from the copyright holders to broadcast those shows, albeit highly unlikely, because when you have permission you'd normally be provided with a broadcast-quality copy of the content, not, e.g., a home TV recording from the defunct Biography Channel from 2007 or earlier that some random person uploaded to YouTube.

Quote
Get a Sat Dish and enjoy Hundred or Thousand different Channels for free.  ^-^

As I said before, lack of interest was the primary reason that I haven't watched TV in ~20 years, and I still have that lack of interest. The few times that I've tried to get reception here over the past ~20 years was because of something specific that I wanted to watch, such as presidential election coverage or the Olympic Games. This time I tried it just as an experiment, which came about because I recently bought a vintage AM/FM stereo tuner and I tried putting the twin-lead antenna outside to see if it improved reception, and I was surprised at just how much it did improve reception. There was a station I liked that was only at about 25% on the signal strength meter, but it went to about 75% just by putting the antenna out on my porch (which made the noise floor on that station inaudible). That made me wonder if I could get any TV reception with the same antenna being outside. In other words, I didn't do it because I wanted to watch TV, I did it to see if it would work.
 

Offline SkyMaster

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Re: Have you ever heard of a licensed TV station playing pirated TV shows?
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2019, 10:58:43 pm »
So, you didn't watch TV for 20 years.

One day, you setup an outside antenna; and you are getting one channel from a local station.

And you want to shut down the only station you can receive signal from?  :-//

I didn't say anything about wanting to shut the station down. I don't even agree with modern copyright law in the US. These old shows this station is airing would have long passed into public domain under the original US copyright law:


I was pulling your leg. Notice that my post (reply #2) was ending with  ;)

 :)
 

Offline Psi

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Re: Have you ever heard of a licensed TV station playing pirated TV shows?
« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2019, 11:16:03 pm »
10 years ago i heard the hosts of a radio show talking about how cool a new TV show was.
They could only have watched it locally by pirating it. It had not come out in the country and there was no streaming services available at the time.
They had lots of people calling in to ask what channel it was on so they could tune in.  :-DD
Got awkward real fast
« Last Edit: August 21, 2019, 11:19:17 pm by Psi »
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Online tautech

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Re: Have you ever heard of a licensed TV station playing pirated TV shows?
« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2019, 11:33:26 pm »
10 years ago i heard the hosts of a radio show talking about how cool a new TV show was.
They could only have watched it locally by pirating it. It had not come out in the country and there was no streaming services available at the time.
They had lots of people calling in to ask what channel it was on so they could tune in.  :-DD
Got awkward real fast
Yes and no.
If Sky want to stream their feed from Aussie via a satellite and we can tune into their signal with a Freeview dish then that's their problem, not mine !
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Offline SkyMaster

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Re: Have you ever heard of a licensed TV station playing pirated TV shows?
« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2019, 12:04:04 am »
10 years ago i heard the hosts of a radio show talking about how cool a new TV show was.
They could only have watched it locally by pirating it. It had not come out in the country and there was no streaming services available at the time.
They had lots of people calling in to ask what channel it was on so they could tune in.  :-DD
Got awkward real fast

Pirating something that is not available otherwise... All I can say... is...  :-+

 :)
 


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