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DirecTV Approaches FCC on Local TV, HD Issues


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#1 OFFLINE   Steve Mehs

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Posted 13 March 2003 - 05:39 AM

In February, representatives with DirecTV met with Federal Communications Commission staff concerning issues associated with continuing carriage of local TV signals, including local HDTV.

In a presentation filed at the FCC, the company said mandating digital must-carry with format and multi-casting obligations - known as full ATSC must-carry - "would dramatically limit DirecTV's ability to continue providing local channel service in the markets where such service is currently offered." DirecTV added that if full ATSC must-carry becomes mandatory, it could deliver local TV service only to one average-sized market.

DirecTV also said in its FCC presentation that HDTV's bandwidth consumption may result in the reduction or elimination of satellite-delivered local TV service if mandatory carriage requires full HD broadcast signal coverage. While digital standard-definition TV typically allows 12 channels per satellite transponder, high-definition would significantly reduce the number of channels allowed on each transponder, the company said.

"HD bandwidth consumption effectively undermines the ability of DBS to provide satellite-delivered local channels on a wide-scale basis," DirecTV said in its presentation.

The comments and meetings at the FCC come on the heels of a debate at the FCC concerning carriage of local HD signals. The effort also is tied to growing efforts at the commission and on Capitol Hill concerning the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act, which is up for renewal in 2004.

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#2 OFFLINE   RAD

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Posted 13 March 2003 - 06:34 AM

I think this issue could be a killer for DBS, if cable get's off their duff's and provides all or not more of the programming that DBS offers. There's no way that DBS could provide HDTV coverage of all the DMA's that their now offering.

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#3 OFFLINE   Mike123abc

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Posted 13 March 2003 - 10:59 AM

Actually they could provide LIL HDTV to all markets, it is possible in theory but not economical. They would have to build a fleet of high power KA band spot satellites. It is also something that would not be cooked up overnight. If they decided they were going to do it today it would probably be 5 years before they would have the satellites built and launched.

#4 OFFLINE   Mark Lamutt

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Posted 13 March 2003 - 11:11 AM

Hmmm...I seem to recall posting this exact problem last year as my primary reason for supporting the merger. HD carriage requirements will absolutely kill DBS.

I can see only 2 solutions to the issue (that both Directv and Dish are facing, although Directv is hurting right now more than Dish in this regard): DBS stops broadcasting locals completely or DBS broadcasts a national east coast HD network feed and a national west coast HD network feed. The first solution also kills DBS in my opinion, and the second one requires the laws to be changed.

Dish has a slight advantate with the 8PSK modulation, but that's not nearly enough to solve the problem either. Once all broadcasting goes digital ATSC, DBS becomes a niche market downconverting ATSC broadcasts to NTSC standards for those people that won't upgrade to the new standard.
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