[opendtv] Re: Democrats Air Concerns About Analog Switchover

  • From: "John Willkie" <johnwillkie@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2006 11:18:28 -0800

> This stuff has been in development for more than a decade. I agree
> that it continues to morph, trying to find a reason to exist. The
> reality is that the Internet has defined the landscape for
> interactivity. OCAP/ACAP/Gem and the rest of the attempts to control
> T-Commerce in walled gardens are doomed to failure. But they do cause
> many companies to spin their wheels trying to play the game,
> something that is also true for attempts to evolve the ATSC standard.

Well, the funny thing about this comment is that on the "business side",
ACAP/OCAP cannot operate within a walled garden, at least in the context of
broadcasters providing the content.  That's because broadcasters have no
return channel.

So, to make it work, they need to come up with business arrangements with
OCAP-enabled entities.  

And, the truly walled gardens in this context are the non-standards
compliant EPGs and other things proffered by cable firms.

> Time Warner tried to convince us in the early '90s that "Full Service
> Networks" would be the basis for television commerce in the future. I
> was there for the launch, complete with the over-engineered SGI "set
> top boxes." Time Warner wrote off more than a billion in investments
> in this service. But they did learn that there was a market for VOD...

I have a different take.  The then-head of SGI (just recently out of
bankruptcy) as a last-ditch attempt to create a real business, convinced
sold Time-Warner some very expensive Kool-Aid.  In the middle of the tests,
he jumped ship to Netscape.  Time-Warner then, and in particular the cable
business, was run by a rather good-looking but trend-conscious CEO who was
trying to convince her superiors that she was managing the future.  (I knew
her personally but not well, her previous assignment was here in San Diego.)

> There is not a ghost of a chance of OCAP et all succeeding. The cable
> industry can;t have it both ways. They are now addicted to the
> revenue from cable modems. Consumers with web access are NOT going to
> support efforts to build "walled shopping malls" on their TV displays
> using standards like OCAP.

So, they won't be interested in buying something by clicking on their remote
versus getting up from the tv set, going over to the computer, and working
there?  I see these as two different 'markets' and don't think that one
forecloses the other.

In the 'personal people meter' context, there is some and perhaps a
significant amount of value to be gained by tying viewing into purchasing,
versus off-line 'click when you want' purchases.

I will say that unless someone or several someones don't try these
technologies that tie in video/audio with interactive content, then it won't

> If you have not figured this out already, John, there is a large
> industry working on all kinds of standards that never gain any
> traction. But it looks good to the FCC and the COngress critters.
> "See, we are working on solution!"

There are large amounts of standards that aren't even being exploited, sure.
Mostly, I find them in the SCTE suite of standards.

> They are working on maintaining market share and preventing anyone
> from breaking out with something that consumers really want.  

This approaches ludicrous.  I know of no one that is happy with their market
share, let alone 'maintaining' it.  This is the idiotic 'my slice of the
pie' argument.  People want to increase market share, not maintain it.  And,
the smart ones want to be profitable at whatever share point they have.

> I sincerely hope that John is able to develop products that
> broadcasters need and will use. But I would not bet on John being
> able to buy a mansion in La Hoya any time soon...

I consider it tacky to dismiss out of hand the commercial prospects of
others.  First, I am not interested in "La Jolla" (Hoyas are the Georgetown
team; perhaps that's where you got the meme?) that's where old guys like
Ivan Boesky go to die.  There's not much land up there, and it's been way
too expensive for decades.  A good friend of mine and his wife owned a house
in La Jolla in the 1950's (when they were poor) and he points out the big
secret: when it's sunny everywhere else, it's still foggy in La Jolla.

San Diego is just too expensive unless you have big amounts of venture
capital behind you, and I rather like being my own boss; I listen to my
customers and prospects, not lucky idiots with large sums of cash but no
practical business experience.  

Also, I have not been talking here about any product or system that I am
working on, or that I've even hinted may be in my future.  Sure, the PMCP
spec that I am working within permits ACAP signaling, but aside from a week
or two doing first-stage design work on user controls, I haven't spent a
second on this area in months.  Sure, I support PMCP 3.0 and use the new
schema that permits ACAP.

But, for me, it comes down to making the system easy to use for engineers
that aren't fully conversant in the specifications, and 

As I alluded to previously in this thread, there is much work to be done to
make 'traditional' audio/video/data match the metadata that describes it,
and make it happen on a frame-accurate basis in real time.

There is another need for transport stream validation/verification tools
that enable anyone to see the problems with transport streams.

Here's a headline:  I've never seen an ATSC transport stream that was fully
compliant with A/52, A/53, A/65, CAE-608, CEA-708.  NOT A SINGLE ONE!  That
includes off-air, saved, shown at trade shows, etc.  Including booths manned
by Tektronix, Rohde & Schwarz, Sencore, among others, and stations owned by
major media firms.

I see the OCAP/ACAP/Gem stuff as what could be coming around the corner.
However, we need to master the existing standards before it's very useful.

> Regards
> Craig

As well

John Willkie

You can UNSUBSCRIBE from the OpenDTV list in two ways:

- Using the UNSUBSCRIBE command in your user configuration settings at 

- By sending a message to: opendtv-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word 
unsubscribe in the subject line.

Other related posts: