[opendtv] Re: Digital Trends: ESPN may pull its finger out of the Internet-TV dam, unleash a flood of change

  • From: "Manfredi, Albert E" <albert.e.manfredi@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 6 Feb 2014 02:37:47 +0000

Craig Birkmaier wrote:

> As I pointed out to Bert, regulation is not the critical issue here.
> It is the use of regulation by governments to control markets, and
> in particular the power of government to create or support monopolies
> and oligopolies that is the important issue here, especially as it
> relates to the markets for TV content and distribution.

Problem is, these broad-brush generalizations are unconvincing. DTV is a 
perfect example of why they are unconvincing.

In the analog days, before UHF, OTA spectrum was particularly scarce. So only a 
few TV content sources could CREDIBLY compete throughout the country. You claim 
this was an oligopoly supported by "the government." In fact, the government 
not only allowed, but MANDATED, that receivers be compatible with UHF. That was 
to promote, not reduce, competition. And it did.

Same happened with DTV. Again, amid your objections, the government mandated 
digital receivers (*including* their hope that the MVPD industry would play 
along), which spurred that much more competition. There are any number of other 
TV content networks now available, over MVPDs and OTA, throughout the country. 
And local LP stations too, for that matter. The government was NOT trying to 
prevent this increased competition.

Now comes the Internet. Once again, the government is not playing any role in 
preventing its use for TV, Craig. If anyone *is* trying to keep that from 
happening, that would be the entrenched MVPDs, not the government. And the big 
TV networks really don't have that much say. If they don't figure out how to 
compete over the Internet, they lose. And they know it.

Organizations (companies, universities) which create the IP embedded in 
standards will of course expect to be compensated for their work. You call that 
"barrier to competition," but honestly, that too is unconvincing.

> It is perhaps a bit ironic that Bert continues to champion the
> proprietary Flash video standards, rather than arguing for the h.264
> standard. But this apparent dichotomy illustrates another important
> "feature" of what happens in a digital medium where the transport is
> standardized, but companies are free to innovate with new
> technologies. The IETF typically seeks to codify industry practices
> into standards, rather than trying to invent technologies.

This paragraph is full of misunderstandings. There is no "dichotomy" on my 
part, Craig.

1. Flash uses H.264 too. It's not the compression algorithm at issue here. It 
is instead all the rest that has to go with that compression algorithm, to 
create a viable and controllable synchronized media stream. You continue to 
misunderstand this, Craig. Flash came out as a solution, to support media 
streams over HTTP. There is NO DOUBT in my mind that plug-ins, just like Flash, 
will emerge after we have transitioned to HTML5. No one can predict what new 
features will be required in the future, that HTML5 does not support.

2. What is important, for a mass medium, is **discipline**. That's something 
you seem to either downplay or totally ignore. Flash might be proprietary, but 
it is a de-facto standard. Plus, I'm not opposed to its replacement at all. I'm 
opposed to heavy-handed companies like Apple overnight stopping to support the 
standard, only to bolster use of their in-house iTunes store. Apple, not "the 
government," created that mess. (And even used lies to justify this to the 
clueless faithful.)

3. The IETF is made up of individuals from many companies and academia. They 
aren't IETF employees, Craig. With enlightened self-interest, these companies 
collaborate to develop new standards, to support THEIR OWN INNOVATIONS in an 
interoperable way. Not all that different from the ATSC process, when it comes 
down to it. You want your new innovation to work reliably on devices from many 
hardware vendors? That's what you have to do.


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