[opendtv] Re: 20040726 Mark's Monday Memo

  • From: "Manfredi, Albert E" <albert.e.manfredi@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 27 Jul 2004 12:05:38 -0400

>           - Here's the testimony of cabler Michael Willner of Insight
> Communications:
> <http://www.ncta.com/pdf_files/Willner%20DTV%20Testimony.pdf>
>      He noted that his company, with 1,297,900 subscribers,
> has 26,184
> HD subscribers (even though 94% have access to HD).

The initial parts of this testimonial sort of miss the point
in some substantial ways.

Tying the shutoff date to acceptance of HDTV per se is not the
issue, I don't think. HDTV is not the point -- OTA DTV is the
only thing that matters. How many people with cheap-o analog
sets will be affected, and to what extent? They don't need to
migrate to HDTV, or even know it exists. Since much of his
initial testimony addresses HDTV and how cable is carrying
HDTV, I wonder how many people in the audience got impatient.

I think Michael Willner is concerned about digital must-carry,
primarily. What effect would analog shutoff have on digital
must-carry? That's his concern, IMO.

In the latter parts, I think his comments are to the point.
He wants to retain the capability to transmit analog over
cable. As far as I know, nothing the FCC said would deny him
that, but obviously it would require more bandwidth from his
cable to continue simulcasting. Cable could actually get a
boost in subscribers. Perhaps cable companies should push
for an *earlier* transition, before these really good ATSC
make it to market!!

Interesting points about the difference in business models
between German and US TV.

His conclusion says, among other things:

"As NCTA's research team concluded in The Transition to
Digital Broadcasting in Berlin, 'The Berlin experience
demonstrates that given the right conditions, a hard cutover
to digital terrestrial television can be successful.' I
would add that the success in Berlin occurred principally
because of one thing - the widespread availability of
relatively inexpensive digital-to-analog converters.
Quadrupling the number of over-the-air broadcast channels
to 28 (in a 30-channel cable environment) was also a
significant factor."

And I would add that all of those elements will be present
in the US shutoff of analog, by 1/1/2007. We too will see
multicasts from DTT stations, as we already have seen, and
we'll also see inexpensive STBs. Add to that the fact that
the vast majority of TV owners here and in Berlin don't
rely on OTA before the transition, and I think that from
the viewers' standpoint, there are not a lot of differences.

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