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Senators Push DTV Issues Beyond Hard Date

Discussion in 'Legislative and Regulatory Issues' started by Nick, Dec 19, 2005.

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  1. Nick

    Nick Retired, part-time PITA DBSTalk Club

    Apr 23, 2002
    A group of senators are questioning House legislation pertaining
    to the nation's eventual switch to digital television, suggesting
    the bill may contain "extraneous" items.

    In a letter sent Friday to Ted Stevens, the Alaska Republican
    and chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, the senators took
    aim at language in the House DTV bill that would permit cable
    operators to deliver digital broadcast signals in a lesser quality,
    standard-definition format as opposed to high-def.* The
    lawmakers also targeted provisions suggested for the
    labeling of TV sets and mandatory airing of public service

    "Complicated policy issues such as these merit extensive
    review in committee," the senators' letter said. "We urge
    you to oppose additional digital television provisions
    beyond the hard date (which lawmakers in both chambers
    have proposed for 2009), in order to allow for more thorough
    consideration of digital television policy to occur outside the
    budget process."

    Senators signing on to the letter include Norm Coleman
    (R-Minn.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and George Allen

    www.SkyRetailer.com - used with permission

    (ed. note: As a point of clarification, there is no requirement that any broadcaster, cable or satellite provider, transmit any picture or programming in high-definition. Under current law, the requirement is that OTA broadcasters cease transmitting in the analog spectrum by 2009.)
  2. HIPAR

    HIPAR Icon

    May 15, 2005
    I wish Congress wouldn't get envolved with these issues and let the marketplace determine the course of events.

    The editor's note raises some questions:

    Can someone explain where the analog spectrum is? It's my understanding only spectrum in the 700 to 800 MHz band will actually be freed when the DTV transition occurs. Then, all VHF (Low and High bands) and the remaining UHF channels will be available only for DTV.

    What is the minimum requirement for DTV compliance? I'm assuming that a 480 line mode transmission will suffice. But why would a station that has purchased the necessary DTV transmitting equipment no want to implement HDTV? I would think viewers will not watch such a station where HDTV is available from the competition and the idea of making more money from the subchannels will not come to fruition. Is it a matter of expense for acquiring 16:9 format equipment for local productions?

    Merry Christmas and good tidings to all.

    --- CHAS
  3. Tower Guy

    Tower Guy Godfather

    Jul 27, 2005
    Once upon a time the 2-way industry felt that they could sell more radios if only they had more spectrum. In looking around, the broadcasters had more sprectrum than everyone else, so they became the target.

    The NAB said that broadcasters need the frequrencies for uh.... uh.... oh, HDTV.

    The FCC said OK, and a plan was hatched for not just HD, but digital HD. A very smart engineer at the FCC (Bob, now retired) figured out how to give every TV station a second channel to be used during a transition period. That period looks like it will be over on February 17, 2009.

    Meanwhile 2-way radio manufacturers have been decimated by the plethora of cell phones. Taxi cabs and concrete trucks don't want 2-ways anymore.

    The 2-way companies reputed need for spectrum could make them look like fools, so, the next reason for the frequency grab is now on the table, homeland security.

    I've heard about neighboring fire companies argue at a fire over who has juristiction. How do they expect new radios to solve that problem?

    In the next move, all TV stations with assignments above channel 51 must move into the so called "core" group of channels, 2-51.

    Meanwhile, use of CATV and DBS has minimized the relevance of over the air broadcasting. Broadcasters would like to turn off their second, expensive, transmitter. But, no one really knows how many old analog kitchen and bedroom TVs still rely on antennas. Ironically, OTA is very useful during natural disasters when other systems fail and "homeland security" antennas are blown away.

    You can't make up stuff like that!

    (And to all a Good Night!)
  4. News Junky

    News Junky Icon

    Mar 16, 2005
    I also heard the FCC plans to auction off the current TV bandwidth to the highest bidder once the switch is made and "pay off the national debt". The longer it takes, the more they'll be able to get for it at auction. That might be part of the rationale of them dragging their feet.

    WGN News tonight had a good report on this very topic. Its not just 2-way but all sorts of things like wireless Internet turning entire cities into hotspots. The technology we have in our generation is incredible. I just hope and pray our US specrtum doesn't get bought up by foreign investors.
  5. Nick

    Nick Retired, part-time PITA DBSTalk Club

    Apr 23, 2002
    A Senate/House conference committee hammered out the last
    details of a budget reconciliation bill that contains
    language pertaining to the nation's eventual switch to
    digital TV.

    The measure passed the House Monday on a 212-206 vote. As of
    press time Monday, the Senate was working towards the

    The legislation establishes a Feb. 17, 2009, "hard date" for
    the transition from analog to digital television. It also
    allocates up to $1.5 billion in assistance for consumers who
    rely on over-the-air broadcasting and need a converter box in
    order to continue receiving TV signals once the digital
    switch is complete.

    The final bill also stripped out a provision that would have
    permitted cable operators to down-convert HDTV signals into a
    "standard definition" signal. The National Association of
    Broadcasters vigorously fought the proposal.

    NAB President and CEO David Rehr said the organization is
    "pleased that the House included many pro-consumer DTV
    provisions in the budget reconciliation bill. We are
    especially encouraged that the legislation thwarts the cable
    industry's desire to degrade delivery of HDTV pictures to

    www.SkyReport.com - used with permission
  6. Nick

    Nick Retired, part-time PITA DBSTalk Club

    Apr 23, 2002
    Good point -- the market will decide the relative success of HDTV. This is analogous to the introduction of color tv in the '50s -- ultimately, consumer acceptance will drive the technology.
  7. kenglish

    kenglish Icon

    Oct 2, 2004
    Salt Lake...
    It takes a lot more than spectrum to do HD. SDTV can be done with existing analog infrastructure.

    A station can run their analog SD in to their DTV transmitter. They can rebuild their studio plant as an all Digital facility, as part of their continuing costs, and even save a bit of money.

    But, HDTV requires a parallel studio infrastructure (one for HD, one for SD), at a far more expensive investment.
  8. HIPAR

    HIPAR Icon

    May 15, 2005
    There is much misunderstanding about what TV channels will remain after the DTV transition. Only channels 52 - 69 (700 - 800 Mhz) are to be reallocated. A portion of that freed spectrum will be assigned for public saftey interoperability and the rest will be auctioned for use by various wireless services. When it's over, channels 2 - 51 will remain available for television.

    I read somewhere that privately funded buy-out plan has be proposed to move stations currently operating on channels 52 - 69. That would appear to solve the major problem blocking progress on this matter.

    If anone out there wants to bid on spectrum, the FCC website has a section that explains the process.

    That's my current understanding but I often know just enough about these kinds of things to get the facts wrong.

    --- CHAS
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