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Burning the Broadcast Flag

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The broadcast flag was perhaps the most egregious example of this--perhaps the worst thing I've seen come out of the FCC in the last five years. I wrote about what a dumb idea the flag was when the FCC adopted it in November of 2003.

I returned to the topic last summer when I discussed how TiVo had to grovel before the FCC for permission to add new video-sharing features to its products.

Now the flag is history. No manufacturer has to build it into their TV sets (or any other device that can tune into a digital-TV broadcast) by July 31. (I wonder how the manufacturers that rushed to get flag-compliant sets into the market ahead of time, such as RCA, feel about that now. Hope you kept the receipt for that work, guys!) Companies can put their engineers back to work on things that people actually want, like better reception or a sharper picture. With no guarantee of hardware on the market that will respond to the flag, I doubt broadcasters will bother flagging their broadcasts either.

This doesn't mean that the entertainment industry can't come back and ask Congress to enact the same sort of rules. But instead of making requests to unelected FCC commissioners, they'll have to ask people who must stand for re-election every two or six years, who work directly for you. Make sure you let your employees in the House and the Senate know that you're not interested in having the government try to break your next TV.

Rebate Runaround, Redux

My long rebate nightmare has ended as strangely as it began. Two weeks after I documented my thus-far unsuccessful attempts to collect a rebate I'd applied for in January, I got an e-mail from rebatestatus.com. The April 14 message read:

"Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding the status of your rebate. We have been unable to locate your rebate submission in our system. If you have retained copies of your rebate submission form, sales receipt and proof of purchase or UPC, please fax or mail these documents."

The message counseled me to include my e-mail address, full name, full address, item purchased, amount of rebate and daytime phone number.

Being the coordinated, disciplined fellow that I am, I made a mental note to do that and then forgot entirely about it for another two weeks. My inattentiveness was rewarded when I came back from a weekend trip two Sundays ago to find a letter from "TCA Rebate Center" of New Rochelle, N.Y., in my mailbox, consisting of that long-awaited $30 check.

My last name on that check was spelled "Pegorano," but when I searched for that spelling at rebatestatus.com, I still got a "no records found" result. So the mystery continues. But at least the check didn't bounce!


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