[opendtv] Re: Qualcomm

At 8:51 PM -0500 11/15/04, Tom Barry wrote:
>While local content is needed I have never understood why it is needed
>by every single channel.  In many ways it would make more sense to have
>a few national channels that make no pretense of being local and let
>people switch to a local channel when they really want local.  Then we
>can find out which one really gets watched most of the time.  I realize
>there are politics involved but it might be a useful experiment.

In a sense, this is already starting to happen, thanks to the tenuous 
relationships between the networks and their affiliates. As examples, 
we now have KRON in San Francisco and WJXT in Jacksonville, both of 
which were network affiliates that are now essentially focusing on 
local programming opportunities (mostly news). They still fill out 
the schedules with syndicated programming, but localism is what they 
are selling.

 From a historical perspective, the need for local content comes back 
to the deal between the government and the licensees for "free" use 
of the spectrum. Specifically the Public Interest obligations of 
broadcasters.  This has been given additional credence by the NAB, 
which regularly points out the economic value of the public services 
that are provided.

The reality, however, is that few stations are making money with 
local programming, other than news; and now, many stations are not 
making money with news. It is just too easy to make money with 
syndicated programming that will draw a larger audience.

The other major problem is that licensees need to program the station 
7 days a week. This is very difficult with local content, although 
24/7 local news channels on cable seem to be able to do this.

Ironically, the area where local content does breakthru is when 
someone comes to a station and buys a block of time for their own 
programming. local Church services are a good example. There might be 
other opportunities for local content producers to develop 
programming, but it is difficult to buy time from local broadcasters 
at rates that are commensurate with the audience that might be 
attracted.

>
>An interesting but impossible twist on this might be a single national
>channel that carried ALL the big 4-6 networks in SDTV.  With a modern
>codec that could probably be done very nicely on a single ATSC or COFDM
>or satellite channel.  And if your car had a PVR with a cheap 250 GB
>hard drive in it you could constantly cache the entire most recent 24
>hours of ALL national network channels (in SDTV) plus a few saved shows.
>   Of course to do this would likely be illegal, immoral, and impossible
>to negotiate for various reasons.  But the technology is probably not
>what's stopping it.

This is an interesting idea that I have given much consideration to. 
I have often wondered if it would now be possible to create a 
national ANALOG television service in the VHF spectrum. This would 
"kill two birds with one stone."

First, there would be no need to turn off analog until nobody is 
watching anymore. No subsidies for  digital set-top boxes...just a 
handful of channels that everyone could receive with existing TVs.

Second, We could give these channels to the networks and let them 
ride down the "analog" ship.

The concept I have been tossing around would be to use the UHF 
spectrum for the Spectrum utility I have been promoting. This would 
become a market driven DTV service WITHOUT individual station 
licensees. Anyone would be able to buy time on the utility to deliver 
their content, including existing local broadcasters and the national 
networks (both broadcast and cable).

At some point in the future the CHFG spectrum could be recovered, or 
used for some other NATIONAL digital service.

Any Thoughts?

Regards
Craig
 
 
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