Revealed: BBC, ITV and Channel 4's Freeview HD DRM

Freeview HD playing nice with Blu-ray
Freeview HD playing nice with Blu-ray

At the UK launch of Panasonic's VT20 plasma 3D TV series, TechRadar was also given the opportunity to see the company's Freeview HD / Blu-ray recorders in action – the DMR-BW880 and the DMR-BW870.

With Freeview only officially launching this week, it meant that we were among the first to see what restrictions are being put into place by the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 to make sure their HD content isn't pirated.

This is a real concern for broadcasters as, with devices like Panasonic's recorder, it is easy to rip the HD content from the Freeview signal and burn it to disc.

Panasonic wants you to use its machines for personal archiving purposes – as you would a DVD recorder – but it does seem that some restrictions have been put into place to stop you from making multiple copies.


From the demo given, it was shown that all of the HD broadcasters for Freeview HD will be using a Copy Once system when it comes to burning Blu-ray discs, but not for all of their content.

Interestingly, the BBC is being the most lenient with its protection, with a Panasonic spokesperson explaining that the broadcaster is only going to use the Copy Once option for its premium programmes like Doctor Who, which will eventually come out on Blu-ray.

As a system it is not perfect – say the copying fails halfway through, what happens then? – but at least it shows that there won't be complete restriction for copying shows to Blu-ray.

No restrictions will be put into place for standard-def content, so this really is a quality issue.


Interestingly, as the DMR-BW870 and DMR-BW880 have the ability to stream video to other DLNA devices, it won't allow this to happen unless you use an encrypted signal.

The BBC is still wrangling with Ofcom over copy protection, so this may change in the future. But, for now, you will be able to archive Freeview HD content without fear that you are breaking the law.

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.