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All non-FTV channels copy protected via Sky+

Teppic

Established Member
Hi, I know there have been threads of a similar nature in the past having just spent over an hour reading through search results, but they're all quite old and this problem is constantly drawing a blank with Sky, who just insist there's nothing wrong and constantly contradict their own official documentation and press statements. There's a thread on another well known forum where several people are currently being given the complete run-around by Sky, and I thought I'd check in here to try and gauge how wide-spread this issue is, or to see if anyone has some advice to give?

The problem: All channels which can not be watched without a Sky subscription are copy protected, regardless of if copied 'live' or from recordings to the internal hard drive. Any calls to Sky result in them insisting that all the programmes you try recording just happen to be "one of the programmes which is protected", or in some people's cases being told it must be the fault of their recording equipment. If you persist, Sky will then send signals to the box which they insist will fix the problem (contradicting all the claims it wasn't a problem). These signals never seem to work for anyone. Their next step is to send a new viewing card (as detailed as a fix for a similar issue in this thread: "Can`t record from sky+ to dvd recorder". However, the result of the new card is to make the problem worse - what was an intermittent problem with the old card (a copy protect signal being picked up roughly once or twice every hour or so) suddenly becomes a complete copy protection lockdown of all channels with the exception of those which are available without a viewing card. Other people have had their box swapped - in every case I know of never for a Pace unit which is the only make of box not to have lots of reports of this problem - which has never seemed to help matters at all. Where engineers have been sent out to investigate, it only ever seems to result in a confused engineer unable to help.

Copying to a DVD recorder causes the recorder to stop with an alert that a copy protection signal has been detected. Copying to a VCR results in the usual Macrovision effects ruining the recording.

Last October Sky admitted to sending out a faulty software update which caused this fault on certain models of Sky+ boxes (link: "Sky+ glitch sparks fears for programme backups"), but Sky claimed to have fixed this last year and mentioning it to anyone you can get on the phone results in nothing but denials that the problem could be related to the system software and them continuing to force you down the same path as everyone else experiencing this issue. Not a single person I'm aware of who has developed this problem since Sky admitted to having done a software rollback in the link provided has managed to get Sky to fix the fault. Indeed, I've seen examples of Sky willing to lose a customer rather than continue to try and resolve the issue.

I've contacted Sky about this via the [email protected] address after the last call I made to them resulted in me being put through a viewing card replacement which the person I spoke to even eventually openly admitted wouldn't solve the problem, and then discovering that the new card made the fault so much worse (just as I had tried to explain would likely be the result from what other people had experienced). It's now been almost two weeks and I've not received anything in reply, despite people with other problems regularly reporting increased help when using that address.

My Sky+ box details:
Manufacturer: Amstrad
Model Number: A2P0524
Version Number: 4F2109
Operating System Version: 1.31B03
EPG Software Version: 5.02.f

This box was a replacement from Sky when my old Pace box lost all Sky+ features after the last software update they sent out (costing me another £65 of course). Right now I'm wishing I'd tried replacing the hard drive in my old box rather than calling Sky. Especially as the Amstrad has a couple of other faults (switching itself to letterbox mode regardless of being set to 16:9 if you try to use the 'Copy' feature, and the box randomly freezing on playback from its internal hard drive and in one case it also doing so during live viewing).

Recording to VHS tapes via the multiroom standard box we have works perfectly. Pointing this out is the only way I ever get Sky to accept that their regular channels shouldn't be copy protected and begin to take me seriously, but every call ends with yet another dead end of them insisting "the problem you have is not a fault!". Overall, Sky seem content to allow any customer with the problem to either leave due to it being 'unfixable', or have their customers buy equipment to strip the copy protection from their whole system (which you would think they would be falling over themselves to prevent).
 

Teppic

Established Member
I know there have been no replies to this so far, but I thought I would add that I've now had a direct reply from someone within Sky regarding the fault:

Regarding the problems you are experiencing with the copy functionality on your main box I can confirm a business decision has been made not to rectify this issue at present with another software download as further issues are outstanding and as the copy functionality is not a main service we provide further attention is being placed on more pressing issues.

Wonderful. :rolleyes:

I've been offered a callout for the other problems I have with the box due to it being within 3 months of them giving me this one, or the option of speaking with someone from the technical team to "try and resolve all issues". All issues would include the problem the same email directly tells me they have decided not to fix though, so what would be the point? :confused:

So if anyone else here has this problem, Sky apparently have decided you're stuck with a box you can only record to, and never from.
 

SamRadford

Prominent Member
It rather begs the question: what are the "more pressing issues"?
 

Teppic

Established Member
Indeed it does. :confused:

However, in what looks like good news (finally!), immediately after I sent a reply to Sky last night I turned around as I switched the PC off and the box was in standby. Sky have sent out a new update, and so far, from what little testing I've had chance to do, it looks like they may have actually fixed the problem.

May still need a callout regarding the freezing issue, although I've not seen it do that either on the one programme I've had chance to watch since the update, so fingers crossed maybe it also fixed that too.

This update must have been in place before I was sent the message confirming the fault and saying they didn't intend to fix it for the time being, so I find it a little odd that the 'Service Excellence Consultant' who contacted me was told the issue wouldn't be fixed. Very strange, but I'm glad the update was sent out even if I did end up wasting a huge amount of time composing a very long email in response.

My new (at first glance seemingly fixed) details:

Model Number: A2S0609
Version Number: 4F2109
Operating System Version: 1.31B07
EPG Software Version: 5.04.e
 

ZeroRam

Standard Member
Thank you for posting this topic:thumbsup: I've wasted ages trying to find a solution as to why my Sky box would no longer record to my Sony DVD recorder, looked at solutions such as Macrovison blockers and a very old devices was pulled out of the attic and tested to no avail :mad:. Read your post, looked at the settings of my Thomson box, and Hey Presto, I've got the same Operating System Version and EPG Software Version as you had!

OK, did system update, and then I get the same version as you have now, and now I can record!

Thank you again:thumbsup:

Just to reiterate :-

Prior to forcing update
Could not record ANY sky channel (also five for some reason)

After Update
Seem to be able to record all channels as before:clap:

ps. we only experienced the problem after getting our new Sky card - hmmm wonders if this will come back and bite us in the bum some time!
 
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Teppic

Established Member
Hi ZeroRam, no problem - glad it saved someone else the hellish task of trying to talk to Sky about it. :)

From everything I've read about the bug, it sounded like there were a few different things which trigger the same problem. One of the first reports about the copy protection going haywire was apparently traced back to how older cards were being paired with Sky+ boxes when the system was first introduced, and certainly in the case of the problem being triggered by faulty system software a new viewing card makes the problem much worse. So there's definitely a combination of model of box/version of system software/viewing card which can cause it, although it seems Sky have decided they have bigger problems to deal with for now. It'll be interesting to see if the problem gets any worse with the new cards, and if Sky will be a bit more open about things if they do (especially since there are still people stuck with the fault, and as it would seem it can also be triggered via an issue on Sky's side with a customer's account which people have said Sky have been unable to fix and have had to go as far as closing their account and opening a new one under a different name as a work around).

The good news for you is that it sounds like your issue was due to a conflict between old system software and new card, and the newer system software fixes that particular reason for it happening. So in theory at least, Sky should be able to avoid it happening again in that way. The slightly bad news is that this is the second time in twelve months they've managed to load this fault onto certain Sky+ boxes via bad updates, so it's difficult not to find yourself holding your breath when you wake up to find the box on reset or channel 998. Fingers crossed that they don't make the same mistake a third time however.
 

nikbj68

Standard Member
Well, 6 months on from your issues, and now I find mine doing the same.
I don`t have Sky+, but what started out as just a channel or 2 not recording to my Panasonic HDD/DVD a few days ago has now become all non-F.T.V channels.
I was trying to get through to Sky for 45 minutes last night...once you`ve been on hold for 10 minutes you tend to feel like you must continue to hang on coz they`re bound to pick up any second now, but I cooked my supper in the time I was on the phone, then decided to eat in peace without their hideous hold music on 'speaker'! :mad:
Will try the forced update, assuming it will work with no phoneline connected (as it hasn`t been since 1998, due to poor installation!)
I`ll report back any results in due course.
 

Teppic

Established Member
The updates are downloaded via the dish, so the lack of a phone line being plugged in shouldn't be an issue for you. I've not heard of this happening with standard Sky boxes however, although admittedly I've not been looking around since my problems were finally fixed so here's hoping they've not sent out a bad update again. There's supposedly a couple of different ways for this problem to occur if it's not a system software issue you're having, in particular one of the reasons was claimed to be on Sky's side in one person's case and required a whole new account to be set up as a work-around.

Hopefully you'll find a quick fix, but in the case of having to deal with Sky don't let them get away with the standard reply of "That's how it should be". The only advice I can give you if you have to phone them is to try to keep calm (far easier said than done, but it increases the chance of getting someone to listen), keep pointing out that only Box Office channels are supposed to be fully encrypted, that recording to external devices is included within their own manuals, and that if a programme is encrypted it's supposed to have the relevant symbol within the EPG guide. It can be a bit like banging your head against a wall - at one point I even had a call centre employee insisting he had a list of the programmes which were encrypted and that everything I happened to say the name of was on that list - but I've heard the occasional rare story of more help being given. Oh, and just to warn you that calling Sky about this problem can result in them issuing you with a new viewing card which will mean losing all subscription channels from the moment you phone until the new card arrives, so you might want to try heading them off from doing that if possible (if you get the chance anyway - in my case it was done before they even mentioned it).

If all else fails then that email address really is the best route to go in the hope of being taken seriously. Good luck!
 

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