[opendtv] Re: Delay

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2006 08:15:45 -0500

At 10:20 AM -0500 12/7/06, Manfredi, Albert E wrote:
Bob Miller wrote:

 My point is absent anyone using the OTA spectrum why not
 sell it off? That is what Congress is going to be thinking
 after the analog turnoff and all the media attention is
 focused on the pathetic numbers that will be very public
 then about who is using OTA DTV.

As an actual user of OTA and HDTV, the idea that you distort the
usership numbers downward and that the real issues with OTA TV are
hidden behind this nonsensical modulation "debate" is really getting

We have a perfect example of what ails OTA TV in the Gainesville market.
Craig says 93 percent cable penetration. Gee, what a surpise. They don't
even provide the major networks OTA. Is it really that hard to figure
out why Gainesville TV customers don't care much about their ATSC tuner?

Gainesville is a small television market, adjacent (but not close enough) to three major television markets (Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa). There are good reasons that we do not have local affiliates for all of the major networks. The main reason is that the major network affiliates in adjacent markets were able to expand their markets by cutting deals with Cox cable to import them. We only got CBS when Channel 4 in Jacksonville dropped their affiliation agreement with CBS, and WESH in Orlando (NBC) has a deal that prevents NBC from signing up an affiliate here - they have microwave links to get their signals to Ocala and Gainesville from Orlando.

Actually, our situation is not that different than yours, but for a few miles difference. You have the unique benefit of being close to two Major TV markets, so you get multiple versions of the major networks. The reality, however is that most of the programming you get is duplicated, so while you can claim access to many more channels, in reality the only major difference is that you get NBC OTA and we can't. You may get a few additional independents as well, but frankly, I don't watch most of the network crap when it is first run, much less watching 24/7 re-runs.

Bob is right on the mark in terms of his analysis of the U.S. OTA market- you are a buggy whip Bert, not the average U.S. TV consumer. Bert is correct that the core issue here is not "modulation." people have abandoned NTSC in droves, and it basically works. Broadcasters do not need to be competitive with cable and DBS because they rely on cable and DBS to reach their viewers, and get paid extra for reaching their viewers in this manner.

Everyone winds, except for Bert (and the rest of the laggards), who choose not to pay extra for TV.

Perhaps there is a better way to explain this...

Bert claims to be satisfied with the programming choices he has - no need for additional specialty channels. So I have a great "test" for Bert. Let's change the business model for the U.S. OTA service, providing real competition for cable and DBS - at least 30 unique channels with most of the popular cable networks. Then we can give Bert several special receivers that are hard wired so that he can only get the OTA channels he can receive today.

Do you think that Bert will complain that he cannot access the new channels that virtually everyone else watches (the 85% factor)? After all, he doesn't know what he is missing...

Maybe what we need to do is chip in together and give Bert a free three month trial of cable. This might help bring him into the 21st century, and gain an appreciation (and perhaps desire) for a broader spectrum of content.

Now to the crux of the matter. If we did as I suggest, "modulation" WOULD become a significant issue. Why?

Because people might actually use the new service - as they are doing in droves in the UK.

When people start using the OTA service they will expect it to work. The broadcasters will want it to work, and they will want to use the spectrum more efficiently (i.e. SFN's), so that they can offer even more choice to improve their competitive position relative to cable and DBS.

So Bert, you are correct that modulation is not the problem today. It is the problem that must be solved if OTA is to survive as a competitive service.


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