reichstag fireman wrote:I am genuinely interested in this topic, Mickey. However, what you describe is not relevant to the thread.
It is absolutely relevant, since we are talking about how NYC may have been under various levels of media blackout. Let me explain as I may not have gone into details in my previous post.
In 2001, there were at least
3 MAJOR ways of receiving Television signals over the air
(so this excludes Cable TV, IPTV, web based CNN/BBC/ABC/NBC/CBS/FOX broadcasts etc)
1) Terrestrial TV signals.
This is the oldest method. It involves the popular directional antenna on top of the homes(or sometimes even inside) pointing at the local transmitter of the city. Signals can be received sometimes even 60-70 miles away. One could only get the local stations though, which would be about maybe a total of 20 stations for NYC in 2001. CBS/NBC/FOX/ABC would be carried by the local affiliates and broadcasted from this central powerful transmitter. All were analog at that time I believe. Channel #2 = CBS, Channel #4 = NBC, Channel #5 = FOX, Channel #7 - ABC etc. None of these channels are encrypted so that wholes masses can just point to the transmitter and watch the limited selection of channels for free.
2) Direct To Home Pay TV
Two of the most popular carriers in the US were(and still are) DirecTV (DTV) and DishNetwork(DN). They were popular because of the small dish size required so it could be easily mounted on roof tops of individual homes. Both DTV and DishNet would provide customers with all necessary equipment including the Dish, LNB, receiver and the most important part of it all, the Conditional Access Module aka the CAM aka Access Card that would go inside the receivers and was uniquely identified for each customer as each card had a unique number on the back of it.
In 2001 DishNetwork had satellites in orbital locations 61.5, 110, 119 and 148. It used Nagravision for the encryption/decryption scheme and access cards called ROM2, ROM3, ROM10 or ROMX in general.
In 2001, DirecTV had satellites in 101, 110 and 119. It used DSS encryption and H card (aka P2 card) and HU card(aka P3 card) for decryption in the receivers.
It is important to note that both the companies use different encryption schemes, hardware and software for their purposes, however why am I going into details about their encryption etc? It is far more important to note that both DTV and DishNetwork's encryption systems were compromised
during those days and satellite piracy was rampant. So much so that DTV and Dish had started taking the help of federal authorities to crack down on the dealers and hackers who were profiting from this whole ring of mess, since their own electronic countermeasures were proving to be ineffective. One of the most infamous countermeasures was done during Super Bowl 2001 in January which eliminated several hundred thousand of DTV pirates from accessing encrypted content. With a compromised system, pirates from all of North America that could receive either DN or DTV signals could simply buy the equipment needed to descramble content and watch TV. NYC, LA and Chicago local stations were the most popular local channels and were widely accessible throughout the country because of this compromised backdoor. So NYC locals weren't just confined to those in the NYC.
This backdoor had to be closed or at least be accounted for before the grand show. In an ideal world, the NYC local stations should have been accessible only to those customers who were legitimately paying for DN or Dish with NYC zip codes in the billing system.
3) Free To Air aka Unscrambled TV aka Free To View (Will be referred as FTA)
This one is oddly not popular enough among Americans(it doesn't have the pop culture HBO, Cinemax, MTV, ESPN etc
) except at the hobby level for satellite enthusiasts even though the number of satellites that have unencrypted content is far more than the encrypted ones (http://gofastmotorsports.com/satellitechart.htm
72 degree through 139 degrees in North America). There are two types of dishes involved to receive programming through FTA, the 8 feet-14 feet Big Ugly Dish (BUD) for C-Band and the 90CM+ Ku band. Dishes upto 1M can be installed on rooftops legally in the US. The FTA KU band dishes are slightly bigger than the Pay TV DTV and DN dishes and very much look alike except that the FTA dishes use linear polarity LNB vs the circular polarity LNB used by the encrypted providers DTV and DN. FTA also doesn't require any conditional access module or access card. It just needs the dish, the linear polarity lnb and the fta receiver. Because of the polarity issues and lack of CAMs, by definition FTA cannot be used for intercepting any encrypted content in North America (keeping modulation differences on the side for simplicity purposes)
So why is FTA important for our discussion? All live news/sports/media and many special events are actually first broadcasted to the satellites unencrypted by "backhaul" trucks. An example of a backhaul truck is http://www.flickr.com/photos/markfaloon/637541716/meta/
These guys "uplink" the live feed to a predetermined transponder/satellite combination and sometimes even publish this info through social media outlets or the most popular Rick's backhaul forums http://rickcaylor.websitetoolbox.com/
. The Pay content providers are the actual intended customers of this live feed. They receive the signal, compress it, encrypt it and then rebroadcast it to their specific satellites from where the mass consumers watch it through their paid access cards. However if you have the requisite equipment to catch the unencrypted stream and the information where the backhaul is being broadcasted, you can very well watch it, typically at very high quality as it is not compressed at this stage and also unedited/commercial free. You can even get behind the scenes audio and video when the pay tv consumers are watching commercials. This can include swearing by anchors, commentators and a whole lot of other obnoxiousness.
So for 911, whatever happened to the backhauls broadcasting live events as they were unfolding? There are many FTA sat enthusiasts who would have caught something. But if the networks already had the theatrics in DVDs, there were no live events and no backhauls and nothing to worry about for this mode of communication.