[opendtv] Re: 20050509 Mark's Monday Memo

Craig Birkmaier wrote:

> > Which is what I'm also arguing. For terrestrial OTA
> > television, you don't need a monopoly to provide the
> > infrastucture. Not saying it CAN'T be done that way,
> > just saying that there are better alternatives.
> I have yet to see you propose one that does not retain
> the broadcaster as gatekeeper.

It's all a matter of perspective. In practice, there is
no clear advantage with your proposal, but there are
drawbacks. Here are two ways to look at it:

1. Your "utility" would become the gatekeeper, Whether
they set the fees, or whether they use other criteria
to allow access, they will accept or reject applicants
for bandwidth. Bandwidth will be limited for the same
reasons it is now. Physics. No, you don't get to
violate any laws with the "utility" concept.

2. The "utility" is the spectrum the FCC assigns to TV.
Therefore, with DTT, more entities can get a 6 MHz slice.
So that's the "utility," and the FCC is the manager. And
yes, there will be multiple gatekeepers.

I've made these points on numerous occasions, so I have
in fact already responded to your question on
gatekeepers. In short, better have many rather than just
one, better let them compete against each other rather
than create another bureaucracy.

> I generally favor the marketplace and a hands off
> approach with respect to regulation. But we are talking
> about a scarce public resource here, and markets can be
> distorted by the actions of a few powerful companies,
> as we see today with the big media congloms.

What about oil? Should we go back to regulating oil
production and prices? I think that the best the govt can
do here is shut down analog, thereby increasing
availability of spectrum to newcomers, and *keep* the
existing local ownership caps. This achieves the same
goals as your utility without the socialist flavor.

> If broadcasters wanted to pool spectrum in small
> markets and create a cable competitor, I suspect that
> they could do it cheaper that cable.

In very small markets there is no cable competitor at
all. There is DBS or OTA. And again, if the govt sees a
need, they can give broadcasters tax incentives to
operate in such rural markets. This is preferable to
an artificial "utility" structure.

> Sooner or later, a bypass technology comes along and
> upsets the applecart. This is why the TV industry is
> so concerned about broadband and the Internet.

This is irrelevant to the discussion here. Depending on
copy protection technology and laws, the "bypass
technology" you talk about could threaten your OTA
"utility" concept, as it threatens cable, DBS, telco
IPTV systems, rental businesses, and advertizing
businesses. So I'm not sure what point you're trying to


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