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The End of HDTV Broadcasting?


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80 replies to this topic

#41 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 11:57 AM

I believe you're seriously mistaken: The private sector did indeed push for HDTV. The CES specifically was very vocal in their insistence that the move to digital go forward.

While I respect your desire to have society "supply infrastructure and support to citizens with archaic receivers", there is no such duty on society. I suggest that if you wish to consider it a duty, you take it onto yourself and others of like mind, and as many of us do with regard to other things we feel strongly about, donate your time and finances to address that need, through private efforts.

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#42 OFFLINE   FogCutter

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 06:05 PM

I believe you're seriously mistaken: The private sector did indeed push for HDTV. The CES specifically was very vocal in their insistence that the move to digital go forward.


http://en.wikipedia...._Alliance_(HDTV)

Sorry about resorting to wikipedia, but this sums it up pretty well. The TV broadcasters at the time wanted nothing to do with it. The Feds wanted to establish a US HDTV standard that the Japanese did not own. HDTV from Japan at that time was still analog and no universal digital HD standard existed.

To make it stick, the Feds set up rules to pull the plug on standard OTA, which has happened at long last.

Much of the private sector were against HDTV and without the Feds it would not have happened. The broadcasters and networks were against it, the set makers and hardware people were for it, but not if there wasn't a drop dead date for OTA. In fact, the Feds pumped millions into display and broadcast technologies for this, DLP being one of the most notable results.

No, I have to say that the government did OK by giving us HDTV, and it wouldn't have happened for a very long time without them.

#43 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 11:06 AM

The TV broadcasters at the time wanted nothing to do with it.

That's not what you claimed before. Of course the broadcasters didn't want it. It represented a door opening that would inevitably lead to additional costs for them.

What you claimed before was, "The private market fought it tooth and nail." As I said, that not true. The private market wanted HDTV. Big time.

#44 OFFLINE   FogCutter

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 11:23 AM

That's not what you claimed before. Of course the broadcasters didn't want it. It represented a door opening that would inevitably lead to additional costs for them.

What you claimed before was, "The private market fought it tooth and nail." As I said, that not true. The private market wanted HDTV. Big time.


Sorry, that is what I meant, and I thought it was what I said fairly clearly.
My bad.

And at the time there was a tremendous amount of effort to kill HDTV before it started -- tooth and nail -- well, that's a matter of perception.

If the government hadn't pushed it through rules and legislation it would not have happened.

The private market didn't want it badly enough to make the investment, but the government did so as not to cede yet another market to the Japanese.

Only late in the process after the lobbying failed did everyone come on board.
I think that's what you're seeing.

The private market may have wanted HDTV 'big time', but they were doing nothing to make it happen, and fought the government when the regulations were imposed.

Interpret history however you need to.

And why are you so cranky?

#45 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 04:49 PM

If the government hadn't pushed it through rules and legislation it would not have happened.

Considering that the broadcast spectrum is a national resource, it would of course have to require government legislation to make the kinds of changes to support a transition to digital. You're not saying anything that is as remarkable as you're trying to make it sound.

Again, the private market wanted HD. You're simply wrong about that.

And why are you so cranky?

It's not crankiness. It's lack of patience for distortion.

#46 OFFLINE   FogCutter

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 05:13 PM

Considering that the broadcast spectrum is a national resource, it would of course have to require government legislation to make the kinds of changes to support a transition to digital. You're not saying anything that is as remarkable as you're trying to make it sound.

Again, the private market wanted HD. You're simply wrong about that.

It's not crankiness. It's lack of patience for distortion.


No, it's crankiness. I know it when I see it.

The march to HDTV was nearly derailed several times by the station owners and networks. From their perspective, they were going to spend billions and not add a single viewer.

But the Feds held fast. The final end of SD OTA was pushed back at bit, but without the heavy hand of the government, we would still be on NTSC OTA.

One of the big beefs from the broadcasters was that the only HD TVs were coming from Japan, were 36" diag or smaller, and cost $10-15K. Who the heck would buy something like that?

So the FCC sponsored a competition for new display technologies, handing out $10M grants. Texas Instruments submitted a request for money to develop a new display tech that used near microscopic moving mirrors.

The FCC called them and said that they should only submit serious entries. TI said that they were serious, the grant went through, and now we have DLP displays.

I remember following HDTV with great interest, waiting for someone to kill it, but the Feds held the tiller firm and eventually it happened.

Of all the players, the station owners yelled the loudest. They had the shallowest pockets and were expected to make massive equipment outlays at a time when there were no viewers due to lack of sets and no content because nobody was filming in HD.

OK, lest you feel more offended let me change 'tooth and nail' to 'significant protests and impediments to implementation'.

Sure, I wanted HDTV badly and anyone who had been to CES in the early 90s who had seen it wanted it too, but there was no market driven groundswell that brought it about, as I'm interpreting your comments to mean. Nope, just wasn't there. Only muuccchhh later, and even that was very slow at first.

If there had been massive demand, people could have gray marketed Japanese HD gear at least a decade before we had HD. That also didn't happen.

Read about 'Japan, Inc.' and the Ministry of Industry and Trade (I believe) that inspired the Feds to push industry into HDTV while offering funding and regulatory guidance.

Really interesting.

Ok, you aren't cranky, but I'm not distorting.

What were we arguing about anyway? Nothing important I'm sure.

#47 OFFLINE   Skyboss

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 05:19 PM

Here's a matter of concern for all of us who receive HD broadcasts over the air. While it may not be a primary concern to people who receive their TV via cable or satellite, it may impact at least some of the programming they receive.
http://www.hdtvmagaz...roadcasting.php


Right now its too soon, but 10-15 years from now I can see it the way broadband is going. Could even see an end to Cable TV and Satellite as we know it. Just hook up a big bandwidth pipe to the house and let her rip....

Excellent point. Local stations could still exist as internet sites.

Clearly such a move would rattle the economics of the networks, but the benefit to society would be considerable.

Nice idea -- I like it.


The locals are good for one thing: Local news - which I never watch. Sports can go fully pay per view. Everything else could be a national feed and I wouldn't know the difference as all of that programing is on the DVR. Maybe someone like Apple will start selling channel/network packages that give you access to the programing and said channels that you can just set to download to your DVR and watch later.

Edited by Skyboss, 23 March 2010 - 05:32 PM.


#48 OFFLINE   brant

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 06:15 PM

No, it's crankiness. I know it when I see it.

The march to HDTV was nearly derailed several times by the station owners and networks. From their perspective, they were going to spend billions and not add a single viewer.

But the Feds held fast. The final end of SD OTA was pushed back at bit, but without the heavy hand of the government, we would still be on NTSC OTA. . . . . .



Of all the players, the station owners yelled the loudest. They had the shallowest pockets and were expected to make massive equipment outlays at a time when there were no viewers due to lack of sets and no content because nobody was filming in HD. . . . . . .


To be clear, there is no requirement for HDTV that I've seen; the requirement was only to transmit a digital signal to free up spectrum so the gov't could auction it for other purposes.

No one made the station owners purchase HD cameras and equipment. I still get several OTA channels that broadcast standard definition content, but its over the ATSC standards.

I have a 480p tube TV in a weekend house that has an ATSC tuner built-in.

Its not as if the gov't "saved the day" to bring us high def television.

#49 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 03:53 AM

No, it's crankiness. I know it when I see it.

Just like I know myopic revisionism when I see it?

The march to HDTV was nearly derailed several times by the station owners and networks.

You've said that already. Pretty much every other business in the industry welcomed the digital transition. You keep trying to get people to think that the general sentiment was against HD, when the reality is the exact opposite of what you are claiming.

Ok, you aren't cranky, but I'm not distorting.

Yes, you're distorting. No I'm not cranky. How much do you want the thread to be about those things instead of being about HDTV?

What were we arguing about anyway? Nothing important I'm sure.

I don't know what the heck you were talking about, but the rest of us were talking about reasonable proposals to reallocate limited portions of the spectrum to more productive uses that better serve the needs of more citizens -- we were talking about progress.

#50 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 04:09 AM

The locals are good for one thing: Local news - which I never watch. Sports can go fully pay per view. Everything else could be a national feed and I wouldn't know the difference as all of that programing is on the DVR. .

This is a really good point. A lot of folks looking at broadcasting and objecting to, really, any changes anyone suggests whatsoever, talk about watching the Super Bowl, and watching Grey's Anatomy, as if they were entitlements instead of services offered for a price paid (in the case of OTA broadcast television, the price paid is the value of the viewers' attention and consideration of sponsor's commercial messages -- I know that comes as a really big shock to some people). The entitlement mentality does tend to obscure the reality of the issue for these folks. It drives them to see fairness as unfairness; to see progress as something (that was never actually theirs) being taken away from them.

Access to news is an entitlement, and news can be provided from as few as two or three channels in each market (and generally is only provided by that many channels, today). Beyond that, what should govern where we get our entertainment (including live sports) from, and how, and how much we have to pay for them, is the marketplace, not some proprietary notion that OTA broadcast channels should be providing some measure of these discretionary diversions.

#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.

#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.
Myopic Direc Lo Def Warrior (D12-300 x3, R16-300 x1)

#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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