ATSC 3.O: Death of OTA free tv?

Discussion in 'Local Reception' started by 1948GG, Jan 22, 2020.

  1. 1948GG

    1948GG Icon

    Aug 4, 2007
    A big story from this years CES is the impending roll-out of atsc 3.0. Getting past the usual hype of transitioning from mpeg2 and 8vsb to HEVC and ofdm (digital encoding and rf physical layer) which allows expanded resolution (4k) and sub-channel support, one particular 'feature' that most either skip over or say it will never be used is the capability to encrypt the transmitted stream, turning the atsc 3.0 station into a virtual pay-TV outlet. Avoiding high cable tv fees by putting up an ota antenna? Do so until your local station decides to upgrade to 3.0 and passes on the revenue it gets from cable, satellite, and streaming services to the ota folks.

    Again, virtually all the commentary I've read says this will never happen, but really, these stations have gotten very used to the revenue stream from the cablecos and others, revenue that was zero until they got the federal law changed in the 90's. I remember when stations were jumping for joy that cable companies came to remote towns and enabled folks to increase their viewership. Then they were sold the idea that doing so was piracy.
    What do you think it will take to convince them that ota viewers are doing the same thing, stealing their signal without paying for it?
    grover517 and jimmie57 like this.
  2. grover517

    grover517 AllStar

    Sep 29, 2007
    I myself wondered the same thing but do you really think they would dare to do something like that before ATSC 3.0 is not only widespread but ATSC 1.0 is a distant memory? I am not saying it won't happen "ever", I just don't think it will be anytime soon.

    But with the current, staggered and voluntary migration to ATSC 3.0, requirements to continue to broadcast 1.0 for "at least" 5 years once they begin 3.0 transmissions, current regulations/legislation needing to be changed to allow them to encrypt all their signals while still using the airwaves for free, wider adaption of 3.0 capable sets and converter boxes, etc., I just don't see current HD OTA signals being encrypted anytime soon.

    I think a more likely scenario is that station owners will try to become yet another way to get content that people already pay for such as on demand, PPV events, previously aired content, possibly putting all ATSC 3.0 UHD content behind a paywall while leaving HD in the clear or even offering current on demand services like Netflix, etc. via OTA before they take that final jump off the cliff and try encrypting what is already free.
  3. VARTV

    VARTV Godfather

    Dec 14, 2006
    With NextGen TV, there are a lot of new possibilities and I can see broadcasters taking advantage of them. Their license, their right. But I never thought of this scenario! 4K content behind a paywall. Pay a la carte or buy a subscription to a station's 4K feed. Just like these BS DIRECTV charges:
    Advanced Receiver Service - HD 10.00
    Advanced Receiver Service - DVR 10.00
    DIRECTV Whole-Home DVR Service 3.00
  4. Nick

    Nick Charter Gold Club Member DBSTalk Club

    Apr 23, 2002
    Let's not forget that, under law, the public broadcast airwaves belong to the people. Use of said public airwaves by broadcasters, regardless of the technical configuration of the signal, must be free to the public. Unless Congress, in its infinite wisdom, were to enact changes in law to permit broadcasters to charge for certain technical signal configurations and/or programming. Let's hope that that never happens, of course, but with Congress under the influence of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and other powerful special interests, who knows.
    AZ. likes this.
  5. MysteryMan

    MysteryMan Well-Known Member DBSTalk Club

    May 17, 2010
    Least we forget that Congress is the opposite of Progress.
  6. Mark Holtz

    Mark Holtz New Texan

    Mar 23, 2002
    Never underestimate the cheapness of some people, and I emphasize the word "cheap", not "frugal". These are the folks who spend the money on a new HDTV, but don't want to spend $5 more per month for HDTV service or still hook up their 480i DVD players.
  7. AZ.

    AZ. Legend

    Mar 27, 2011
    Only because they are polar opposites......Look no farther than the Net-Neutrality...Big business wins again, and look what privacy we lost and other things.
  8. TheRatPatrol

    TheRatPatrol Hall Of Fame

    Oct 1, 2003
    Phoenix, AZ
    Couldn’t they scramble ATSC 1.0 now that would require a receiver to unscramble it?
  9. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2003
    Yes. And some stations have done that for years ... Scrambled channels existed before the digital switch.

    One unencrypted stream per station is required by the FCC. Other than providing the ability to have more subchannels, 3.0 doesn't change what already can be done.
  10. 1948GG

    1948GG Icon

    Aug 4, 2007
    It is doable, but lots of technical hoops to jump through for the broadcaster, which is why the number of stations giving it a try is extremely small. With atsc3.0 it's baked into the standard, which means not much more than a s/w switch.

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