[opendtv] Re: DTV TRANSITION:

  • From: Albert Manfredi <albert.e.manfredi@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 24 Dec 2008 15:47:45 -0500

John Shutt wrote:
> My Comcast expanded basic service currently has
> 61 analog and 34 ClearQAM services.  The ClearQAMs
> include all of the OTA broadcaster's ATSC services
> (in HD if available from the broadcaster,) as well
> as digital duplicates of analog PEG services. I'm
> not a subscriber to digital cable or HD cable, so
> I can't say how many total channels there are with
> those services, and am too lazy to look it up.
> Our PBS station has all four of our multiplex
> channels on this ClearQAM tier, as part of the
> nationwide carriage agreement struck between PBS
> (or was it APTS?) and the NCTA.
Granted all that. Cable companies here too operate that way, so that people who 
don't subscribe to the digital tier, or don't pay extra for HD channels, can 
still receive HD.
The point I'm making is that there is nothing that forces cable companies to 
operate that way. They can decide, tomorrow, that they want to encrypt and copy 
protect everything on their cable, and they are perfectly within their rights 
to do so. They have nothing that forces them to transmit clearQAM.
> I have been told that the cable companies want to
> move people into ClearQAM and away from analog for
> expanded basic, then offer encrypted QAM for
> additional pay tiers and PPV.  In order to achieve
> this goal, all subscribers must have some sort of
> ClearQAM tuner, either built into their television
> sets, or in the form of a STB.
As an interim step at least, that makes a lot of sense. That's why I wondered 
for many years why the cable companies were so opposed to agreeing to a digital 
standard that third parties could design to.
You said in your original post:
> [CECB manufacturers] will modify their software code
> slightly, unlock the built-in ClearQAM potential,
> and start selling "expanded digital basic" STBs to
> counter the cable company's attempt to rent 3 or 4
> cable boxes per sub.
I responded exactly to that last phrase. "To counter ..."
If the cable companies WANT to rent 3 or 4 proprietary STBs, as opposed to your 
idea above that cable companies prefer to make use of third party STBs to their 
own advantage, then they only need to encrypt everything on their system.
MVPD subscribers have shown that they will bend to the wishes of the MVPD 
provider without a lot of fuss, in the US. That's how you get 85 percent of the 
population hooked. And Craig has mentioned more than once what the broadcasters 
"want" their viewers to do. Suggesting that every lemming out there should bend 
to the wishes, and make the 85 percent figure a nice, round, 100 percent.
> It seems to me that these CECB manufacturers are
> ready and able to fill this market niche, at the same
> price they currently charge for CECB only boxes, and
> it would take minimal retooling of their product.
> Indeed, perhaps as simple as a software change.
Yes, as long as the cable companies allow them to do so.
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