[opendtv] Re: Let them eat cake (and ATSC while they're at it)

  • From: "Nick Kocsis" <kocsis_nick@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 15 May 2005 22:24:15 -0400


I had occasion to spend some time in Rome a couple of years ago.   One of
the lasting impressions on the trip into Rome from the airport was the
number of apartment buildings along the road whose roofs were festooned with
TV antennas.  Shortly after I recall an article I read that mentioned in it
the future of  DTV in Italy at a time when the first experimental station
was being planned and about to go into operation.    The article mentioned
that cable service was not popular and the number of subscribers relative to
other countries like the U.S. was underwhelming.   The other subject was the
tight control that the Italian government had on the broadcast duopoly and
the difficulties of wresting control of it from the politicos.

Is there anyone out there that can give us an authoritative and complete
account of the state of Italian broadcasting and the number of  those who
receive OTA via external antenna, via cable and via satellite on a region by
region basis including not just the wealthiest in the north and cities like
Milan, Bologna and Florence but also south including Rome, Naples and

Speaking for myself I am one of the few in our neighbourhood who still
maintains a master antenna system on the property and have done so for over
thirty years.   I have never had cable but realize I must be some kind of
'weirdo' in that respect in a sea of cable subscribers.   I can hardly
describe myself as poor or a member of the 'underclass' but I could never
justify cable (as I am located in the Niagara Peninsula where better than
cable reception is obtained from free OTA of all the broadcast outlets in
Buffalo, Toronto and Hamilton) when it cost me nothing after having invested
in a mast, antennas, filters, amps and signal combiners.   In the last
several years I  finally succumbed to the siren call of HDTV available only
on DBS or Cable.  I chose DBS over cable since I did not need the locals
offered by cable which I still access as analog OTA.  Is this not
reminiscent of Freeview with subscriber channel options?

You might understand my consternation when ABC announced that Monday Night
NFL Football would move from the network to subscriber ESPN (TSN here).
As a TV sports fan I see this as the beginning of a  mass migration of  the
remaining sports offerings from network TV to subscriber (and the ultimate
horror of pay per view).

Recently, our one and only independent TV dealer in the neighbourhood who
was also an antenna installer (they did mine many years ago) closed its
doors.   It was in business for more than 40 years, and its owner retired
last year and turned the business over to his son who immediately remodelled
the whole of their sales area and repair shop and then gave it all up.   The
sad truth is that the independent shops are all gone now and  one must go to
one of the 'big box stores" to buy TVs or have them repaired.  I find it
amazing that I can no longer buy an outdoor UHF antenna at any local store
including Radio Shack.

OK, so where is the 'beef'?

Alas,  the DBS provider does not offer 'a la carte' programming but instead
I am compelled to pay for the whole 'smorgasbord'.   I personally can do
without 95% of  DBS offerings if I could dine on  CNN, CNBC, PBS HDTV, BBC
World, CBC Newsworld, TSN/ESPN, The Golf Channel, and one or two others .
But no, I have to pay for the carriage of the Saskatchewan Legislative
Network (remember we are in Ontario) among other offerings that I would
never watch.

Alas, the Buffalo NTSC analog broadcasters are scheduled to shut down and
scrap their transmitters at the end of 2006.  That means that I can only
satisfy my  local network OTA multicast and HDTV broadcast addiction by
investing in an ATSC HDTV capable receiver promised by some to cost no more
than U$100 when available.   I hesitate to buy one until it is Schubin
Apartment Approved.    I would expect it to have the same or better than UHF
analog reception success on a corner reflector 4ft long yagi on a 35 ft mast
with amplification.

Alas, the Toronto region has only one or two ATSC transmitters on the air
and only a few DTV broadcast licenses pending that will take a while to take
to air.    There is no announced analog shutdown date, nor do I expect one
in my lifetime (and I have that on good authority from those in the know).
The sense that I get is that most broadcasters on this side of the border
are waiting for the collapse of  the NTSC and ATSC broadcast franchises and
their transition to a new business model using new and existing

My take on the Italian broadcast scene is that there is something to be
learned from their experience just as we have learned much from the DTV
transition in the UK, Berlin, and elsewhere.

I still think it a grave error that North America adopted ATSC and not DVB.
As I explain to my many American friends (and a few that are related to me)
that  we are in reality conjoined at the hip.   If the American member
catches a cold the Canadian one comes down with pneumonia.   You can bet
that we are concerned with what is going on 'over there'.

Regards,    Nick

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Manfredi, Albert E" <albert.e.manfredi@xxxxxxxxxx>
To: "OpenDTV (E-mail)" <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Sunday, May 15, 2005 6:35 PM
Subject: [opendtv] Re: Let them eat cake (and ATSC while they're at it)

> Bob Miller wrote:
> > > Matter of fact, the lower power of Euro TV, especially
> > > in countries like the UK, France, and Italy, where 10s
> > > of KW are all you're going to get for UHF TV, creates
> > > a whole business segment that we don't have here.
> > > Antenna installers.
> >
> > 8-VSB with current receivers needs antennas at any power
> > level.
> Bob, this constant overstatement does not help your cause.
> > The fact that we don't have a viable antenna installer
> > business only attest to the failure of 8-VSB in the US.
> No, it attests if anything to a failure in OTA TV. Antenna
> installers, or "antennisti" as they're called in Italy,
> have had to exist originally for PAL. Over here, unless
> your apartment complex happens to have a central antenna
> system, it's typically up to each homeowner to figure it
> out. And usually they can, if they're so inclined.
> All I'm saying is that you're making a far bigger deal of
> this antenna business than reality supports. The supposed
> ease of reception, with multiple low-powered repeaters, is
> mostly propaganda. It's a lot more interesting to talk
> about REAL WORLD problems and REAL WORLD solutions than to
> be subjected to constant propaganda. For example, I'm a
> lot more interested in hearing how people truly deal with
> TV reception around the world than to hear BS nonsense
> about how easy it supposedly is. It ain't anything like
> the propagandists on this list have been saying.
> > > So now, in her condo, they are debating whether to
> > > install a central antenna system. And yet they are
> > > only a few miles from the repeaters that feed the
> > > North part of Rome.
> >
> > Yet they are considering a central antenna. Sounds like
> > a few more may take up TV or DTV now that they have
> > approved funding for an additional 1.4 million receivers
> > at a subsidy of 70 Euros.
> No doubt there might be some converts to OTA if the
> central antenna is finally installed. But the interesting
> thing is, but I have to verify this, that would be a
> requirement by law. FOTA TV reception is supposed to be
> provided, and her condo does not permit individual roof
> antennas for each apartment. So installing the central
> system is, she tells me, mandatory, or risk a fine.
> > France will begin a subscription service using MPEG4
> > and COFDM. This one I am very interested in.
> Again, you're overstating how cool this is.
> The H.264 codec is *only* used for HD in France. Which
> means that in *practice*, confound it Bob, you're not
> hardly gaining anything.
> What's so interesting about a scheme that forces the
> simulcast of HD and SD, just so lower cost receivers get
> service? The simulcast takes up almost *exactly* as much
> room as the single MPEG-2 HD broadcast, and sometimes
> takes up more spectrum.
> At the same time, there's nothing to say ATSC can't
> introduce H.264. It's just another transition, though,
> and not required for HD over here.
> Bert
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