[opendtv] Re: Point-Counterpoint: Peter Tannenwald Responds To The Chairman : CommLawBlog

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2010 07:41:26 -0500

At 7:28 PM -0600 11/23/10, Manfredi, Albert E wrote:

No, it's because he was indulging in the same unfocused generalities that you seem to favor.


Peter provided specific proposals and described services that are more in line with what consumers expect as we move into a world where mobile devices supplement and replace existing fixed screens for information processing and entertainment.

But one more "generality."

You are just hopelessly locked into a 20th century concept of what broadcasting should be.

 You have a choice.

 Let the congloms kill FOTA broadcasting.

 Or give a large number of local (and independent national) businesses, the
 freedom to use the spectrum they have occupied for more than a half century,
 the ability to compete with government supported oligopolies.

You got your two choices quite wrong.

One choice is to free the FOTA broadcasters of their antedeluvian burdens, such as national caps, and see if they will sink or swim. Possibly, thanks to the culture of MVPD dependency now well entrenched among consumers and congloms, FOTA broadcasters would sink. But at least, the archaic regulations would not be blamed.

Getting rid of national caps could be viewed as the "last straw" for broadcasting or a new beginning. Much would depend on who would be allowed to create national broadcast footprints.

We both seem to agree that letting the telco oligopoly create a national broadcast footprint to supplement two-way data is a step backwards. Allowing the media conglomerates to do this would be just as problematic, if not more so.

The problem is not the lack of national ownership of broadcast facilities. Even with national caps and diverse ownership, we still have the national footprint of the broadcast networks and their affiliates, augmented by VERY LIMTED content that is created for local audiences. Unfortunately, the only localism that is economically important today are the ads, and the cable MVPDs do this form of localism as well or better than the broadcasters. And for better or worse, local cable franchises do provide some local access channels.

The antediluvian burden that local broadcasters need to be freed from is the antiquated technology of the ATSC standard. As Peter said:

The FCC must plan for spectrum use based on the technology of the second decade of the 21st century, not the first decade...

Another is to deliver frequently used content only a few times instead of every time viewing is requested. That is exactly what broadcasting does: it efficiently distributes content over a stream that occupies the same amount of spectrum no matter how many people use it. The only thing that is different about today's demand for video content is the desire for time-shifting, which is becoming easy to accomplish, without using more spectrum, by storing and replaying content in the user's device. That is what DVRs and advanced set-top boxes do today, with cellphones and portable tablets not far behind.

As Kon noted recently, we need to FINALLY consider the spectrum saving benefits of Data Broadcasting to local cache. While this is possible with the ATSC standard it is highly inefficient when compared to more spectrum efficient modulation schemes with a distributed transmission infrastructure.


I for one will not go there again.

The other choice is obvious. Yank away all of that spectrum, and either hand it out to the current cell providers or to one or more new ones, to create the two-way infrastructure for TV on demand and TV "broadcast." That's what the article described.

NO BERT. THh article described giving the diverse ownership of the current spectrum occupants the freedom to use that spectrum to develop innovative solutions for the next decade and beyond.

Giving that spectrum to the telcos, or a new ologopoly with a national footprint would only serve to perpetuate the problems that we are both concerned about.

It's not "more efficient use," unless by more efficient you mean that the existing or new cell providers can now extract more money directly from consumers. Just like any other telco or cellco would do.

How about the potential to develop a system that could actually COMPETE with the MVPDs, rather than using the spectrum as a weapon to drive consumers to the MVPDs, where they pay twice, while quality content flees from the airwaves.


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