[opendtv] Re: Freeview realities

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2006 11:31:49 -0500

At 11:28 AM -0500 11/15/06, Manfredi, Albert E wrote:
If we don't have 80 models of STBs for sale at WalMart, it is certainly
not caused by a choice of modulation. CE vendors would have absolutely
no problem developing STBs for the US market right alongside their DVB-T
STBs, or even inside the same box. Integrated, global DTT chip sets
already exist.

Correct. It is the result of the fact that U.S. broadcasters have no interest in promoting DTV, or in pressuring content provider to let them operate a FTA multi-channel service. The modulation issue is just an annoying artifact of the techno-political war going on here in the U.S.

BUT. If the broadcasters in the U.S. DID want to compete, they would drop ATSC like a hot potato.

1. The "very small percentage" you talk about is upwards of 30 percent
who actually use OTA TV. The 15 percent figure only represents
households that depend *solely* on OTA.

This is speculation on your part. Yes there are studies that say that upwards of 30% of homes still use the OTA service. And there are studies that say it is only 15%. The actual percentage is irrelevant - what matters is that this is a dying service that is causing at least 70% of U.S. viewers to p[ay more for other services due to the lack of spectrum to support them.

2. Imagine you walking up to a sun worshipper on a California beach, and
telling him "This beach is way too 'valuable' for you to use. We should
take it away and develop it." His response would no doubt be, "Whatever,
dude," as he paddles out oh his surf board. Whatever, Craig. I'll bet
you that 30 percent of Californians do not regularly use the public
beaches, so should they be "developed?" This spectrum is public
property, and I ain't selling. If the Congress can be convinced to do
other things with it, so be it. Until then ...

An absurd analogy. THE biggest problem is that the broadcastters think they OWN this spectrum. Did you notice the story I posted about Disney taking a charge against profits to devalue the "good will" they have on the books for their station licenses? This is an age old problem - the government should NEVER have allowed these licenses to be sold in the first place. But that's another issue.

And you are trying to turn my words into something that they are not. I AM NOT advocating that we eliminate FTA services in the broadcast spectrum. I AM advocating using this spectrum to deliver services that we all want, not just the dwindling percentage who are happily riding into the sunset with the current broadcast business model.

The real irony here, Bert, is that you would benefit significantly from what I am proposing. Why would you want a system that has limited choice, and in your case, duplication of half of what you can receive?

Think of it this way Bert; when you go to that beach in California now, you take a straw mat and a towel and get sand in your swim suit. If however, this beach were properly developed, you could be sitting in a cabana sipping your favorite adult beverage.


3. Channels 52-83 have already been taken away. In Eastern cities at
least, channels 2-13 could probably also be put to other uses. With
A-VSB, the remaining DTT channels could also be used for stuff like
broadcast to handheld devices, or other special apps. So your apparent
desire to dismantle OTA TV is simply not necessary, not your call.

Many things are possible Bert. But the reality is that there is little desire on the part of broadcasters to do anything with this spectrum other than sitting on it and collecting those monthly subscriber fees from cable and DBS. I don;t want to re-open the "spectral efficiency" can of worms with you again, Bert, but the reality is that we can provide significantly more bits to be broadcast into every market than is happening today, in part because of the design of the transmission infrastructure, and in part because NOT USING the broadcast spectrum in the public interest makes it possible for the politicians to get more money from the companies who need spectrum to develop the services that the broadcasters are NOT offering. As a result we are all paying TOO MUCH for broadband, entertainment television, and wireless telephony.

Maybe a problem is that OTA broadcasters can depend on cable and DBS, as
you have expressed in the past. Maybe the problem is there is funny
business going on under the table. I'll tell you one thing for sure,
though. There seems a rather total lack of enthusiasm from the DTT
operators. Just compare the number of on-air spots we hear about the DTT
transition with the number of on-air spots we hear on HD Radio. It's
like night and day. Tell me why this is so.

Because the radio broadcasters still have a viable audience - nearly 100% reach - and understand the a value proposition that television broadcasters have abandoned.

Bottom line it is all about greed.


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