[opendtv] Re: TV Technology: Deregulation Picks Up Steam
- From: Craig Birkmaier <brewmastercraig@xxxxxxxxxx>
- To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 05 Dec 2017 06:45:57 -0500
On Dec 4, 2017, at 10:07 PM, Manfredi, Albert E
In many specific cases, such changes might be okay by me. But the combination
definitely gives the appearance of some wild-eyed extremist yahoo, gone
Give it a break Bert.
The broadcast system in the U.S. is seriously broken, and increasingly
irrelevant to most Americans. The larger question is whether ANY spectrum
should be allocated for TV broadcasting?
I am not in favor of eliminating TV broadcasting, but I think we can create a
service that will remain useful to the small number of people who still want to
use antennas. Most likely just a limited number of higher power VHF stations
that can cover large regions. It is worth noting that this wad proposed in the
‘1930’s and could deliver four - five networks to every market.
This notion that eliminating ownership caps is going to change the TV landscape
is absurd. The TV landscape moved to cable and DBS over the past four decades,
and is now moving to the Internet. The media conglomerates control the content
we see, not TV broadcasters, who cannot move to the Internet in a meaningful
way, because they do not own most of the content they deliver.
Yesterday I was cleaning out a closet and throwing away piles of old papers. I
found several stacks filled with documents related to the DTV transition and
other related technologies.
I found the original press kit for the Time Warner. Full Service Network - the
“non-neutral Internet” that the cable industry wanted to build INSTEAD of the
broadband networks they eventually built when the public voted for the neutral
I’m sure Bert will tell us that the notion of “Full Service Networks” failed
because people were so satisfied with dial-up access to AOL...
I also found a working draft version of a policy paper written by Thomas
Hazlett for the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, published in
November of 2001. The paper examined the many problems with DTV transition at
that time, and proposed a radical agenda: recover ALL of the TV spectrum and
subsidize lifeline cable/DBS for those who would be disenfranchised. At that
time 87% of U.S. homes were paying for TV, a percentage that rose to 93% by the
time analog broadcasting was shut down in 2009.
One key point the paper raised was that Congress had added a provision that 85%
of homes had to own ATSC capable receivers before the analog spectrum could be
recovered. I was not aware that the law said that to be counted toward this
85%, a cable system had to offer both the analog and digital signals from a
station, something no cable or DBS system ever did.
This provision was later revised when the FCC ruled that access to the new
digital signals was sufficient to meet the 85% rule, which was the case by 2006
What is significant about this is that in 2001, most broadcasters were not on
the air with digital, and expected they would never have to turn off the analog
transmitters; i.e. the transition would last well past the 2006 deadline. In
fact it did not end in 2006, and it still took another act of Congress to
finally recover the 700 MHz spectrum in 2009.
Hazlett made the economic case for recovering all of the spectrum and
subsidizing the small number of homes that were not subscribing to a pay TV
Ironically, here we are in 20117, and we are looking at another extended
simulcast transition to yet another DTV standard. Meanwhile the TV spectrum is
A bunch of Berts rants eliminated, but this cannot be unchallenged:
In light of this over-zealous, "let's become a banana republic" behavior,
this other item would bear very careful scrutiny. Unfortunately, while it
should be the FCC's job to provide that careful scrutiny, now we can't trust
Sorry Bert, but if you want to talk about Banana Republic behavior, you need to
go back a few years to the Obama administration. Wheeler was not planning on
moving to Title II regulation of the Internet because that action was illegal.
It was clearly at odds with the 1996 Telecom Act and the 2005 Supreme Court
decision in the Brand-X case. I am not aware of any time in history when a
sitting president issued marching orders to a regulatory agency, as Obama did
when he told Wheeler to use Title II.
But this was such a small “banana” that it would not have made the news without
the help of John Oliver. We had the IRS/Tea Party scandal, illegal surveillance
of political opponents, and a rogue FBI protecting the next presidential
Banana Republic indeed!
"Relaxation of the top-four restriction on television duopolies. The
Reconsideration Order retains, at least formally, the existing prohibition on
common ownership of two of the four most highly-rated stations in a market
(generally the ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC affiliates). The commission, however,
also adopts a policy that will allow, on a case-by-case basis, waivers of the
top four prohibition."
Well, at least this matters less to the country than the repeal of net
neutrality. Imagine, though, the combination of very few voices heard from
traditional media outlets, plus broadband access that will appear more like a
walled in cable TV service. Talk about trying real hard to become a banana
Net Neutrality is NOT being repealed Bert. Get over it.
But thanks for finding a way to weave it into a discussion about TV ownership
And thanks for conceding that broadcast ownership caps matter less to the
public than the Internet. In reality broadcast TV does not matter at all.
But the networks still matter, since five companies control more than 90% of
the TV people actually watch. It is at least entertaining to see a network get
caught lying and celebrating as ABC did Friday with Brian Ross and Joy Behar.
And we’re worried about who can own a TV station?
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