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The End of HDTV Broadcasting?


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#51 OFFLINE   V'ger

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Posted 30 March 2010 - 07:24 PM

If OTA is no longer necessary, then, why (less than six months ago) did Congress pump millions of dollars into the digital conversion in order to make sure people could still use OTA?

(because they are idiots is not an acceptable answer).


Analog TV could not be packed, channel next to channel due to original design of transmitters. DTV can, as long as adjacent channels are in the same direction and roughly the same power. If the original plan was to get rid of OTA, they needed time to pick OTA's bones a few MHz at a time. They had to do the converter boxes to fool people into buying into the program. It was a total waste of money, but is it that much in the grand scheme of things?

Satellite will be happy to provide some form of TV to rural. As soon as locals go off the airwaves, cable and satellite will claim they don't have to be carried. I can see a lawsuit with the FCC as how can a provider be required to carry an internet feed, when there are hundreds of internet feeds in local areas? Just because they were a former TV station won't cut it with the courts.

With dramatically reduced viewership, many local channels will simply go out of business because of lack of ad revenue. That will cause the loss of syndicated programming, as they can't make money. Some programming will go to ppv internet downloads, some will die.

The networks will become cable channels at best. With reduced viewership, will ABC, and CBS continue to have a network news operation when they are competing with a dozen other well established 24/7 cable news channels? I assume NBC news will fold into MSNBC and CNBC.

The dramatic reduction in local channels means that there will be a lot of extra space on satellites and cable for additional services. The only issue is that the satellite companies have spent billions of dollars in putting up spacecraft to supply those 1000s of local channels mandated by the FCC. they might be upset with the FCC and want some sort of compensation.

Finally, there will be an issue of not having the ability to get disaster warnings, school closings, etc out to people if there are no local channels anymore. I can see the government mandating software installs on our PCs to ensure we get those alerts (shades of the Chinese, wanting internet filters on their people's PCs), or the government run internet will inject the warnings in our web pages.

It's going to be a rosy future.

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#52 OFFLINE   FogCutter

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 07:04 AM

The networks will become cable channels at best. With reduced viewership, will ABC, and CBS continue to have a network news operation when they are competing with a dozen other well established 24/7 cable news channels? I assume NBC news will fold into MSNBC and CNBC.

It's going to be a rosy future.


Well said.

#53 OFFLINE   cousinofjah

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 01:59 PM

I can't see them doing away with ALL OTA bands.
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#54 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 02:07 PM

Yup: Simply not going to happen. The reason why it comes up is that cynical folks who are jealous of very last kH of spectrum have to make the proposals to better utilize a portion of the spectrum sound like humongous catastrophes on the horizon. Essentially, they know that unless they deceive people into thinking there is really a danger of losing OTA broadcasting entirely, that they're not going to be able to foster the kind of mob-mentality necessary to apply sufficient pressure on the FCC to leave things the way the cynics personally want them to be.

#55 OFFLINE   Gloria_Chavez

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 02:15 PM

"to better utilize a portion of the spectrum "

I would argue that there is no more efficient user of the radiospectrum than today's OTA broadcast TV stations. Think about it.

Moreover, the OTA broadcasters already gave the government 25% of their spectrum.

I believe that today's OTA broadcasters will become tomorrow's OTA digital broadcasters to mobile devices. And they'll do so MUCH more efficiently than Verizon or Google can narrowcast content.

#56 OFFLINE   FogCutter

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 02:54 PM

I believe that today's OTA broadcasters will become tomorrow's OTA digital broadcasters to mobile devices. And they'll do so MUCH more efficiently than Verizon or Google can narrowcast content.


Interesting. From a business standpoint that is quite a transition, but it would make perfect sense. Maybe they could morph some of their web efforts into something of value OTA.

Personally I think OTA will eventually vanish but an argument against that is of course radio. Good old AM and FM. They are still out there, still going strong (ish), and they have landed in a durable niche.

My thoughts are driven by the hypothetical 'killer app' that will give us mobile instant whatever everywhere, and that will take lots of frequencies and lots of bandwidth. People will pay for that. Many, many OTA devotees hang on because it's free to them. They feel strongly about it to hear them talk, but they would drop it very quickly if they had to pay.

That's part of the network conundrum -- they're customers will take their services as long as they are free. Not a robust business model in a world of growing acceptance of pay services that offer vastly wider offerings.

What of advertisers -- sure, but they are seeing a decline on their investment with OTA adverts. Remember, the OTA audience is watching because it is free -- they value free over wider content -- they aren't the key demographic that they used to be unless the advertisers are offering free services. Not a robust business model if covering costs and making a profit is an issue.

Be fun to see how it unfolds.

#57 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 04:11 PM

I would argue that there is no more efficient user of the radiospectrum than today's OTA broadcast TV stations. Think about it.

If you think about it, you'll realize that that is only true of a small percentage of the available spectrum, perhaps as little as 24-30 MHz per DMA.

Moreover, the OTA broadcasters already gave the government 25% of their spectrum.

Uh, no they didn't. The broadcasters never had any spectrum: It was always the government's spectrum.

I'm curious: Whatever gave you the idea that it was the broadcasters' spectrum?

I believe that today's OTA broadcasters will become tomorrow's OTA digital broadcasters to mobile devices.

Only if there is bandwidth for that application.

#58 OFFLINE   Gloria_Chavez

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 09:23 AM

Hi Bicker.

(i) Let's say that ESPN wants to broadcast the SuperBowl via the Internet. What's more effective use of frequency, ESPN narrowcasting the game to 110 million households across the nation, or Fox broadcasting the game in major cities using its radiospectrum?

(ii) You're right about the spectrum being given to broadcasters decades ago. I would be open to a surtax on broadcaster revenue, in exchange for allowing them to continue exploiting the frequencies.

(iii) Why wouldn't there be bandwidth for the application?

(iv) FogCutter, the "network conundrum" problem you mention is interesting. Today, CPMs (cost to reach 1000 viewers) are higher on broadcast network television than cable. Materially higher. If you want to reach a critical mass of educated, affluent Americans, you do so on network TV, advertising on dramas like 24.

It will be interesting to see how all this unfolds. I'm a firm believer in broadcast network TV, and I hope it survives.

Also, I'd like to ask, anyone that live in LA, what do you think of Sezmi?

http://www.sezmi.com/

#59 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 01:31 PM

(i) Let's say that ESPN wants to broadcast the SuperBowl via the Internet. What's more effective use of frequency, ESPN narrowcasting the game to 110 million households across the nation, or Fox broadcasting the game in major cities using its radiospectrum?

The latter. And you could broadcast more than six different camera angles of the SuperBowl, simultaneously, in the 24-30 MHz of bandwidth that I mentioned in the message you're replying to. Did you miss that?

(I'm not saying that that is how all of that bandwidth should be used -- I'm just saying that there is enough capacity in that bandwidth to do that.)

(ii) You're right about the spectrum being given to broadcasters decades ago.

That's not what I said. Indeed, What I said was the exact opposite: "The broadcasters never had any spectrum: It was always the government's spectrum."

I would be open to a surtax on broadcaster revenue, in exchange for allowing them to continue exploiting the frequencies.

I don't think that's necessary, really. That's a tax for taxing sake. It doesn't actually serve a valuable purpose, like retasking a portion of the spectrum for other uses.

(iii) Why wouldn't there be bandwidth for the application?

There wouldn't be unless some was retasked for that purpose.

#60 ONLINE   Nick

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 02:39 PM

"...The broadcasters never had any spectrum: It was always the government's spectrum."

Sorry, but you have that wrong.

The public airwaves belong to we, the American people, the "public" as it were. We elect representatives to pass laws that regulate the use of the publicly-owned airwaves and they hire (inefficient and ineffectual) bureaucrats to administer those laws and create a snake's nest ofregulations. We are the bosses of the government and the rightful owners of the airwaves, not the other way around.

Yes, you and I own the airwaves...isn't that great?

Only problem is, except for a few of very narrow exceptions we (the people) can't use our own airwaves, and we (the people) can't derive any revenue from them. Our elected representatives and those (inefficient and ineffectual) bureaucrats whose salaries we (involuntary) pay (at the point of a gun) out of our own earnings in the form of taxes have given our airwaves away.

Living in America is just like living in a great big HOA. Oh, and then there's the NAB.

Edited by Nick, 06 April 2010 - 02:51 PM.

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#61 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 07:48 PM

Sorry, but you have that wrong.

No I had it right. The PP said that the broadcasters had the spectrum. I said that the PP was wrong. I'm correct.

The public airwaves belong to we, the American people, the "public" as it were.

Some news for you: "We the People of the United States ... do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." Just in case you thought there was someone else behind this magical thing called "government". :rolleyes:

Yes, you and I own the airwaves...isn't that great? Only problem is, except for a few of very narrow exceptions we (the people) can't use our own airwaves, and we (the people) can't derive any revenue from them.

I think I understand your confusion: You seem to think that you and I own the airwaves, ourselves, individually, in some way, instead of the reality, that we own them collectively (hence my earlier mention about the "government"). As such, "we" absolutely can and do use our own airwaves and even derive revenue from them.

#62 OFFLINE   FogCutter

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 07:59 AM

Gloria,
As long as the OTA networks give us something we want to watch they will stay in the game. But the fraction of viewers watching the networks via dbs and cable is growing, making the analysis more challenging. With this segment comes fees from the dbs/cable companies to pay by the viewer for content from the networks. The networks have the incentive to increase non-OTA viewers for that reason.

Personally, I wouldn't want to own a television station right now.

#63 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 12:01 PM

Me neither. The whole sector of the economy, I feel, is unstable from the perspective of folks taking the long-term view. Why invest in a television drama, when you can make more money investing in a new pharmaceutical that will likely pay a better return? The only thing that seems to offer a chance for regaining some stability in this regard is the ascendancy of retransmission fees, but even that's under attack.

#64 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 13 April 2010 - 09:26 AM

Very interesting blog post today....

http://tvbythenumber...dience-go/47976

The chart is very informative, especially if you just look at the over-the-air audience numbers, for a minute: It not only shows the obvious, i.e., how the over-the-air network affiliate audience has contracted, but it also very clearly shows how the independent television station audience has utterly evaporated, by comparison to the over-the-air network affiliate audience. This speaks directly to the point that perhaps a lot of over-the-air television bandwidth is wasted, serving fewer and fewer viewers year-after-year, with the drop far more precipitous on a percentage basis than the drop that over-the-air network affiliates are experiencing. (About 18% of the over-the-air audience watched independent stations in 1985-1986, as compared to only 5% of the over-the-air audience today.) This helps foster calls for perhaps using multicasting (perhaps 4 x 480i streams) to serve independent stations, instead of devoting full channels to each.

#65 OFFLINE   FogCutter

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Posted 13 April 2010 - 03:44 PM

bicker1,
Very cool. It's empirically obvious, but seeing the numbers graphed like that is striking. Down she goes.

I have to say again, OTA is dying and needs to go away. The tiny handful of folks who can't connect via IP or DBS will just have to read the newspaper if there are any of those left. It looks like the market will take care of OTA before long.

#66 OFFLINE   kenglish

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 08:33 AM

When OTA is gone, there will be nothing left but PAY TV.
(What do you think will happen then?) :eek2:

TV for only the wealthy?
TV "stamps" for the poor.
Middle class viewers squeezed out?
Everything in YouTube quality?
Amateur local journalists?

#67 OFFLINE   FogCutter

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 11:11 AM

Dogs and cats sleeping together?

I could say that TV is not a right, but that chord has been struck enough on other issues. Like anything, if no one is willing to pay (viewer or advertisers) and the service cannot support itself somehow -- it will just have to go dark.

Like CDs and LPs. Even before music downloads took over, it was up to the consumer to upgrade to a CD player if they wanted the newer music. The record companies should not and were not required to issue everything in both formats.

Something I just found out -- in some communities the cable companies give free basic service -- just plug into the wall and there are 15 channels or something like that. Perhaps the DBS folks will be pressured into such an arrangement.

You and I will pay for it even though we won't benefit, but someone has to pay. And no we don't get to vote on it. We just pay --

#68 OFFLINE   Jtaylor1

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 01:19 PM


NAB 2010: Broadcasters Announce Mobile DTV Joint Venture


Source: Broadcasting & Cable

#69 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 05:16 AM

We do get to vote on it -- every November we have a chance to start spinning the nation to the left or to the right. The decision that most people make -- talking about members of both parties -- is to give a certain amount for the good of all, and keep most of the rest of what they earn for themselves.

#70 OFFLINE   cousinofjah

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 10:36 AM

Very interesting blog post today....

http://tvbythenumber...dience-go/47976

The chart is very informative, especially if you just look at the over-the-air audience numbers, for a minute: It not only shows the obvious, i.e., how the over-the-air network affiliate audience has contracted, but it also very clearly shows how the independent television station audience has utterly evaporated, by comparison to the over-the-air network affiliate audience.

well, the article does qualify that most of the independent stations have become network affiliates over the years (Fox, UPN, PAX, Telefutura, ION, etc.)
Myopic Direc Lo Def Warrior (D12-300 x3, R16-300 x1)

#71 OFFLINE   kevinturcotte

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 10:50 AM

If they get rid of OTA, what are people going to do about local news? Find out about local parking bans when it snows, if school is canceled or gets out early, if certain streets are closed. What the weather is going to be (Not that you can actually rely on that,I know lol). What if there's some sort of emergency (I notice they still broadcast that Emergency Alert thing)?

#72 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 11:30 AM

If they get rid of OTA, what are people going to do about local news?

That's a red herring. No one is seriously suggesting getting rid of OTA entirely.

#73 OFFLINE   FogCutter

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 12:05 PM

That's a red herring. No one is seriously suggesting getting rid of OTA entirely.


I find it ironic that so much effort went into defining the HD standard in terms of OTA transmissions only to see the broadcasters wither away just as things become fully implemented.

One thought -- there is a big push to spread real broadband IP across the nation. The final service is supposed to be cheap or free and very inclusive. That might just end the need for OTA. It would be easy enough to give the holdouts a converter box to take IP content to NTSC or whatever they have.

Be fun to see what happens.

#74 OFFLINE   kevinturcotte

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 12:08 PM

I find it ironic that so much effort went into defining the HD standard in terms of OTA transmissions only to see the broadcasters wither away just as things become fully implemented.

One thought -- there is a big push to spread real broadband IP across the nation. The final service is supposed to be cheap or free and very inclusive. That might just end the need for OTA. It would be easy enough to give the holdouts a converter box to take IP content to NTSC or whatever they have.

Be fun to see what happens.


For somebody like my Mother and her b/f, they've got to get that signal there wirelessly, and display it on their TV (They don't have computer, internet, or cell phones). They also need to do it free, or if they're going to charge like $10, allow them to somehow pay with cash, or with a money order (They don't have credit cards either).

#75 OFFLINE   FogCutter

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 12:36 PM

For somebody like my Mother and her b/f, they've got to get that signal there wirelessly, and display it on their TV (They don't have computer, internet, or cell phones). They also need to do it free, or if they're going to charge like $10, allow them to somehow pay with cash, or with a money order (They don't have credit cards either).


http://www2.ntia.doc.gov/about

This website doesn't mention it, but I've seen it discussed that by taking the OTA bandwidth a good portion will be given over to national free broadband, which implies that it will take place wirelessly. Then it's just a matter of another converter box to service TVs, radios, whatever.

I'm stuck with 1.5 meg download with enough streaming pauses to kill Netflix for me, so there is lots of room for improvement.

Your Mom could still wind up in the dark if the broadcast/advertiser model collapses. Somebody, somewhere has to pay for content. Some vendors are charging more to take cash payments, and it's not hard to imagine cash going away, too.

To be alive is to live with change. . .




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