[opendtv] Re: TV Technology: Getting The Word Out To The Viewers
- From: Craig Birkmaier <brewmastercraig@xxxxxxxxxx>
- To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 30 May 2017 07:48:31 -0400
On May 29, 2017, at 3:56 PM, Manfredi, Albert E
On broadcast channels, you will see a zillion ads for all of the MVPDs,
mostly those that don't even operate in your neighborhood, but just how many
ads do broadcasters transmit for OTA TV? Anyone ever see an ad for ATSC 1.0,
between 1998 and 2009? I don't remember a single one, in that decade plus.
Has anyone ever seen an ad for ATSC 3.0? I sure haven't. Why point the finger
at "newspapers"? Of course the newspapers ignore all of this, if the
broadcast industry does.
Apparently Bert still does not understand that broadcasters DO NOT want you to
watch via an antenna. Every home that cuts the cord and uses an antenna COSTS
the broadcasters in that market about $5/mo in retransmission consent fees.
Newspapers may not cover what is happening with broadcasters, but who reads
local newspapers anymore - most likely the same old folks who still watch local
television newscasts via cable.
But there is a great deal of information available about how to receive FOTA
broadcasts via an antenna if you cut the cord, and there are a wide range of
antennas available that are affordable and work fairly well indoor or in an
attic. Warning, your mileage may vary based on distance from transmitters and
the amount of multipath the receiver must deal with.
I see articles all the time on the major news sites about cord cutting, and
there has been a fair amount of coverage about the ATSC 3.0 transition in the
trade media we monitor.
The larger question, is who still wants to watch the broadcast networks?
The FCC's "stand passively by, allowing voluntary implementation as long as
you meet OET-69" is about as uncommitted as anything the FCC can do. It means
almost nothing, to users or to CE vendors. No reason to be trumpeting this
decision as being instrumental. And I still don't see any articles which
explain the acceptance of ATSC 3.0 among broadcasters, other than Sinclair.
Do others shudder at the thought?
It all boils down to the business a broadcaster wants to be in.
Sinclair has been instrumental in developing the ATSC 3.0 standard. They have a
vision of the future that would take advantage of many of the standards'
capabilities that cannot be implements with ATSC 1.0. We just saw this in the
article I posted recently about Sinclair offering free chips to cellular device
manufacturers. In the article Mark Aitken told us:
“Our mobile-first strategy is not incongruent with other broadcasters that
are looking toward ATSC 3.0 to enhance traditional television broadcasting,”
says Aitken. “It doesn’t mean we are ignoring targeted advertising and data
analytics. It just means we have a more aggressive view of getting to the
future sooner than later.”
For Sinclair, a big part of that future revolves around mobile. Near term
that means offering new OTA products like skinny bundles of premium video
content and a terrestrial alternative to SiriusXM, Aitken says.
But most broadcasters are more than content to ride their tired old "broadcast
horse" into the sunset. They have every reason to believe that retransmission
consent payments will keep increasing for the rest of this decade, perhaps
longer. The only real concern is how much further the broadcast networks slip
into oblivion. The current political morass could be a defining moment, if half
the country decides to stop supporting (watching) the broadcast congloms.
Bert will be quick to point out that there are plenty of new options.
Even if ads for ATSC 3.0 were being aired, the history of voluntary
"replacement" broadcast standards is abysmal. (To belabor, I'm talking about
broadcast standards that attempt to displace or augment an incumbent
standard, on a voluntary basis.) Analog stereo AM was at best a curiosity for
radio nerds. HD Radio was advertised quite a bit, but it is almost as
difficult to find on store shelves as ATSC 1.0 was, pre-2007. Is anyone even
transmitting ATSC 2.0 anymore? And beyond all of this, let's not forget that
we are talking about a by-appointment broadcast scheme only. What happened to
DVB-H? The on-demand TV aspects already exist, are already very well-known,
and used, by consumers.
Truth is we do not need a new broadcast standard; the modulation layer now
works adequately for a service that uses fixed antennas. It would be trivially
easy to add some new capabilities above the transport layer (MPEG-2TS). For
example, smart TVs now include h.264 decoders.
And then there is the reality that broadcasters already have real competition
for mobile TV reception. I can easily use my phone as a WiFi hot spot and
access TV Everywhere content on a tablet while mobile. If I subscribe to
DirecTV Now next week, I will be able to access live TV channels while mobile,
using zero rated bits...
ATSC 1.0 only happened because the Michael Powell FCC finally mandated it, to
move Ch 52-69 from TV to cellular. CE vendors were happily ignoring ATSC 1.0,
until then. And consumers were clueless about it too, for years. Déjà vu all
Michael Powell did not mandate a thing. Congress authorized the new DTV
standard in 1995, including the simulcast transition. And Congress delayed the
end date of the transition. The FCC just managed the mechanics of the
transition, setting dates when stations had to offer an ATSC 1.0 signal.
Bert still seems to think the FCC receiver mandate was critical to the
It was not. It was a huge pay-off to the companies that developed the standard.
While the CEA opposed the mandate, the consumer electronics companies that
developed the standard were all in for the mandate, as it allowed them to
recoup their investment in developing the standard. And now they are enjoying
the royalty streams from chips that cost very little due to Moore's Law.
There is a difference between ignoring the ATSC 1.0 standard, and waiting for
the technology to mature. Need I mention that prior to 2007 the required chips
did not work well and were still very expensive?
Most consumers have been "clueless" for decades Bert, as they stopped using
antennas in the '80s. There is a silver lining in this cloud.
Finally, after 20 years I have a reason to use the ATSC 1.0 tuner in my TV, IF
there is something offered FOTA we want to watch. But it's not likely that the
antenna will be used until next fall, when there may be a few football games
As for ATSC 3.0?
The issue is not about the technology. The issue is whether the standard brings
anything new to the table. "New" as in something worth watching.
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