Crestron’s Analog Sunset Ads Seem Misleading and Deceptive

I recognize that a large segment of high-end customers don’t want to be bothered with the licensing and legislative details of digital content protection on their devices and content, but that’s no reason for Crestron to be spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt by making false claims in ads. Crestron’s latest ads make the following statements:

Analog audio and video is being killed. By the end of the year component outputs will only support standard definition signals, and by 2013 component outputs and analog video will be gone forever.

These statements are false. Are they lies designed to mislead the otherwise ignorant public? The reality–the truth–is that the “analog sunset” to which these ads allude affects only Blu-ray players manufactured and some Blu-ray content distributed after December 2010. The AACS License Agreement that Blu-ray uses stipulates that after 31 December, 2010, manufacturers must stop designing Blu-ray players with analog component HD output capability, and content providers will have the option (but are not required) to disable analog HD output on new Blu-ray discs. Further, Blu-ray players with any analog output capabilities cannot be sold after December 2013. This is a digital rights management restriction imposed only on Blu-ray technology and nothing else. That’s all.

What doesn’t this affect?

  • Consumers’ current Blu-ray discs played on Blu-ray players manufactured by December 2010 (or, more realistically, as late as December 2011, depending on how quickly existing pipelines and stock are depleted)
  • HD and SD content from satellite and cable providers, with the singular possible exception of some new FCC-permitted constraints on first-run content like movies that are still in theaters
  • Content on or recorded to DVRs
  • Standard, progressive, and upscaling DVD players
  • HD and SD output from game consoles
  • Any content from Internet media streaming devices like RoKu, Media Center, Apple TV, and others
  • Existing HD and SD content on installed media distribution systems from Crestron or any of its competitors
  • Consumers’ existing high definition monitors and TVs that have any digital input options
  • Any other pre-existing component device in a consumer’s home

It’s baffling to me that Crestron would resort to such deceptive advertising practices. I understand that times are tough, but is misleading customers really the solution? These ads likely violate the Federal Trade Commission’s truth-in-advertising rules, satisfying key criteria in its policy statement against deceptive advertising. Primarily, consumers’ existing audio/video equipment is not going to suddenly stop working on 1 January, 2011, and the term Blu-ray doesn’t appear anywhere in these ads, even though that’s the only technology potentially affected by these ridiculous, fear-mongering claims.

I can hope that people wise up and see through Crestron’s false statements. But I can also help. I can share this very information with Crestron, on my blog, on Twitter, and with the FTC.

So that’s exactly what I’m doing.

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    • Douglas Williamson
    • November 22nd, 2010

    I agree that the wording is maybe a little harsh but I suggest you look at the satellite company in Europe that has already enabled the constraint bit. Most Digital boxes manufactured after 2005 can recognise the contraint bit and have thier analog ports limited to 480i (We turn on and off ports on boxes and change thier spec all the time) I work in conjuction with a number of cable television providers and the roll out for the contraint bit is scheduled for next summer. since most of our boxes with an HDMI port will stop sending anything non digital over 480i when this is enabled then this is a very realistic problem. You are incorrect about the set top boxes and Sony will for sure make sure their playstation acknoldeges the contraint bit for any content they have anything to do with. I think you missed the sneaky sections in the aacs license about updates. Most manufacturers in the last 5 years have made thier systems to be update compliant to this. The manufacturing guys will tell you that you are only a firmware update away from loosing your HD via analog. I realize this is a crappy problem but it is going to efect more things in the next year or two than you expect.

      • Douglas Williamson
      • November 22nd, 2010

      Slight correction to my comment. There is no planned date to turn on the ability of a digital set top box to limit the output of it’s analog ports. However both Satellite and Cable boxes have thier port setting modified by firmware delivered over the broadcast network so when a change does happen you can’t stop those kind of updates. My concern would be that the founders of aacs are mixed with content creators and manufacturers of hardware and since player is how they define it then the argument sometimes involves DVRs.

  1. Extron Electronics has published a very informative white paper, “Analog Sunset” Demystified, available at http://www.extron.com/company/article.aspx?id=analogsunsetwp.

  2. The debate over the Analog Sunset is heating up! Commercial Integrator, a new publication targeted to integration professionals is presenting a live webcast, “Debating the Analog Sunset”, on Wednesday, March 30, 2011. Get details at the Commercial Integrator site.

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