[opendtv] Re: FCC issues changes for switch to digital television

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 3 Jan 2008 09:41:30 -0500

At 4:23 PM -0500 1/2/08, Manfredi, Albert E wrote:
Interesting idea, to allow analog stations to shutdown before 17 Feb
2009. Although history has shown that most broadcasters are not likely
to take such action of their own accord, unless they feel like they have
no OTA audience anyway.

I agree with Commissioner Copps that a market-by-market approach would
have been easier to swallow. Maybe this new latitude will help.

Looks like you've got it right Bert, and Copps is just blowing more smoke.

No FCC order is going to cause the vast majority of broadcasters to shut down their analog operations until it is absolutely clear that Congress is NOT going to change its mind again and extend the deadline.

It is revealing that the FCC is allowing early shut down starting November 18, 2008. This date falls AFTER the 2008 elections. By then we MAY know if Congress caved and extended the transition again, in the run up to the election. Most of the major changes in telecommunications policy happen in an election year, as the politicians shake down "their" constituents - read "special interests" - for the cash they need for the election.

The real question mark in this equation will be the results of the 700MHz spectrum auctions. If they raise big bucks (IMHO more than $50 billion), the broadcasters may have a difficult time justifying further delays.

By waiting until November 18, 2008 broadcasters will have a decent idea what might happen. It would still be possible for the lame duck Congress to delay the transition again, or even for the new administration or Congress to get cold feet and change the end date in early 2009; but the most likely route to another extension would be to attach an amendment to a "must have" bill before the election.

My guess is that the shut down is going to be a non event, somewhat similar to the Y2K non event at the turn of the millennium. I doubt that the NTIA coupon program is going to burn through the primary allocation for coupons, much less the additional funds that have been authorized. The only people who seem concerned about "Aunt Emily" are the politicians; clearly the viewing public could care less, having given up on TV broadcasters a long time ago.

Even the media conglomerates seem ready to move on, and I suspect that they are now hoping that the transition will put the final nail into the coffin for affiliates. Clearly they do not need local broadcasters to deliver their content, or Blockbusters for that matter.


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