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

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 7 Feb 2014 21:46:26 -0500

Sorry, keep hitting send by accident...

> On Feb 7, 2014, at 7:47 PM, "Manfredi, Albert E" 
> <albert.e.manfredi@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> We've been over this many times. In practical fact, a single intervening 
> market is used, in congested parts of the country...

> There is no conspiracy to keep competition down, or at least, certainly not 
> by the FCC!

Yes Bert, we understand how full and low power stations can coexist. This was 
true way back in the '50s when TV broadcasting really got started. But the FCC 
did not make this spectrum available for LPTV until 1982. The number of voices 
was severely limited until the '80s; during those 30 years the three commercial 
TV networks grew into a powerful force with tremendous political clout.

> Getting tethered to one of these MVPD infrastructures is a relatively 
> elaborate process, and the content available to you depends fully on that 
> physical infrastructure. With OTT sites, as long as the ISPs remain neutral 
> as they have been, it's an entirely different matter. You can opt out of one 
> an onto another without the hassle of changing the physical infrastructure 
> you use. That forces the OTT sites to self-regulate their shenanigans, in a 
> way MVPDs have never had to do in the past. So I think your prediction is off 
> base.

It is no more difficult than setting up your ISP service; in many cases you get 
TV and ISP from the same provider. So now you'll pay one service provider for 
your ISP service and another for your MVPD service.
>> These receivers only work with DTV broadcasts, and not very well at that.
> First, they work just fine. Did I tell you we just got ANOTHER subchannel, 
> just days ago? That makes 41 local stations, plus 10 from Baltimore. Total 51 
> stations. Not bad, for an antenna in the fireplace with no LOS to any tower, 
> eh?

So why do you need OTT TV?

Seems like you are getting a feast of stuff to watch...

> The point is that the FCC wanted these receivers to also tune to digital 
> cable channels, but couldn't legally force that to happen.

Yup. They had the legal authority, but did not use it.  Good thing for you, 
because if they had tried to impose a standard on cable and DBS, the whole 
thing would have been tied up in courts for years.

It was in the same bill that authorized the DTV service. The FCC was tasked 
with unbundling cable boxes in 1995 - still hasn't happened.

> It is the MVPDs, *not* the FCC, that were the obstacle to competition. The 
> "waste to taxpayers" was caused by the MVPDs, Craig, who are amazingly still 
> renting their STBs to their customers. Your solution would have been to hand 
> it all to the MVPDs on a silver platter! Astonishing.

The MVPDs  did not cause this waste Bert. More than 85% of U.S. Homes had moved 
on and had no reason to use an antenna again. These people had to pay for a 
receiver they had no intention to use. There are still millions of homes using 
analog cable with old NTSC sets. 

>> That's called competition, Craig. And if the congloms wanted to put the OTA 
>> subchannels to good use, for their own content, all they have to do is 
>> propose this to their affilated broadcast stations. Instead, NBC yanked 
>> Universal Sports away from their OTA subchannels. Too bad, then, NBC. Now 
>> you'll compete against some unaffiliated content owner instead.

They make more money keeping these channels in the MVPD bundles. 

> The government only mandated **the TV app**. That had to be standardized, 
> because TV service already existed with analog. DTV had to land on its feet 
> running, Craig. It couldn't take 20 years of crappy sporadic service to 
> converge on a solution. So they imposed standards for that app alone. The FCC 
> **did not limit** new services the broadcasters could provide, over this DTV 
> medium.

Bert. The equipment manufacturers were hell bent on delivering that"TV App." 
They would have built exactly the same TVs whether the FCC authorized the 
entire standard or only the modulation and transport layers. As I pointed out, 
they did not implement the standard as the FCC mandated anyway. They 
implemented a non standard subset of MPEG-2.

> Get it now? If a service is brand new, it can affor to evolve slowly. If 
> you're replacing an existing service with "a better way," such as DTV was 
> doing, you can't afford decades of growing pains. FORTUNATELY, the FCC did 
> the right thing wrt TV.

But the Internet DID NOT evolve slowly, and DTV broadcasting has not evolved at 
all, while the world around it has been fundamentally transformed. We replaced 
an analog point standard with the ability to broadcast bits. NOT a digitized 
version of analog TV, but a pipe capable of delivering anything that can be 
represented with bits. Then we told broadcasters they can only use bits that 
represent another point standard that would soon be outdated.

> You claim OTT TV service "proves" your point? Far from it.

Stop with the history lessons Bert. They only describe how rapidly evolving 
technology can flourish when a medium is not constrained to what works at a 
given point in time.

The ATSC standard could deliver more than 19 Mbps from day one. Most U.S. Homes 
still do not have a broadband pipe with that throughput. We had to wait for the 
Internet pipes to catch up.

Today's smart TVs really do support the ATSC standard as an App; fortunately 
they also support all that we have learned through nearly 20 years of 
continuously evolving what we can do as the underlying technology evolves.

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