[opendtv] Re: A Clue re OTA DTV users: How many OTA?

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 15 Dec 2006 09:44:45 -0500

At 4:15 PM -0800 12/14/06, Richard Hollandsworth wrote:
Can't very well simply broadcast all of those cable channels via OTA without some form of payment--which means a decryption device (e.g. STB or DCAS) for each DTV to limit access--and maybe a different STB or DCAS key for each OTA multiplexed service provider....which would require monthly service charges.....

And the problem is?

When you add fees to the equation, you also provide a pool of money that can be used to pay for the receiver.

And we have the Internet to use as the back channel to deal with this problem. Want to watch an encrypted program or channel? Just pay for a key and your there... This will also be a major benefoit to all kinds of specialty data broadcast services that you will be able to subscribe to for a fee.

Hmmm, seems to be the same as a monthly cable bill.....why bother....esp. given the difficulties of providing RELIABLE service from a fairly large number of (usually widely dispersed) broadcast towers....

I disagree. As we have seen in the UK, when you create an infrastructure to deliver content in the free and clear, you get the one thing that all programmers want - lot's of viewers. With Freeview, broadcasters are PAYING for the right to give their content away.

We have created a system in the U.S. where the multi-channel systems collect subscriber fees for advertiser supported programming. This is only possible because of the bundling and tiers that these systems offer. IF viewers were give the right to choose (and even pay for) only the channels they want, the whole system would crumble. That is why they are fighting the idea of ala carte program selection.

As soon as you give subscribers the ability to choose to pay only for what they want, virtually all of these channels will drop their subscriber fees so that they can be accessed for free. They cannot afford to lose all of those potential eyeballs - especially the browser channels. A few channels, like ESPN might still charge fees, but they would lose huge amounts of revenue, because of all of the people who don't watch sports, but are paying and average of $2.70/mo for ESPN channels today.

As Bob has pointed out, it would not be difficult or all that expensive to build SFNs to deliver the bits. More important, these networks would enjoy a wide range of new uses that would help to pay for them.

Even if you somehow worked out a funding model for FREETV (ala U.K.'s "TV Fee" scheme ???), only certain "family friendly" channels would pass the FCC's "decency" criteria--excluding Comedy Central, Travel Channel, TNT, USA, WGN (Sex&City), MTV, Spike, and perhaps CourtTV, A&E, E!, etc.

We can't even begin to move to a modern broadcast infrastructure until we eliminate the biggest bottleneck - the FCC. Content controls are EASY to implement with a digital system.


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