[opendtv] Re: UHF reception

  • From: "Alan Roberts" <roberts.mugswell@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2008 15:43:11 -0000

While that may seem the case in the US, nothing could be further from the truth in the UK.

----- Original Message ----- From: "Cliff Benham" <flyback1@xxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Sunday, November 23, 2008 3:28 PM
Subject: [opendtv] Re: UHF reception

As I first predicted in 1996, when I joined this list, we are now
reaching the END of FREE TV.

Soon, no one will be able to watch anything on television for FREE
because, as I have pointed out again and again in the last twelve years,
the digital transition has always been a ploy to eliminate all the FREE
over-the-air broadcast program sources so that the public will have to
pay to watch any program via cable, fiber or satellite.

The digital improvement in picture quality does NOT matter if the
original intent of broadcasting "in the public interest, necessity and
convenience" is no longer the law of the land.

Now, it's only about the money.

Craig Birkmaier wrote:
At 7:13 PM -0800 11/22/08, Dale Kelly wrote:
I agree with you but there are agendas within agendas.

You may recall that a number of years ago, on this forum, I suggested
the major broadcast networks were preparing for the demise of OTA

* = At that time Craig was the major detractor of my analysis; what a
difference a day makes!


Can you save me the trouble of looking back through the archives to see
where I disagreed with your position about the future of OTA broadcasting?

We have often disagreed about one thing or another, but I can't remember
a time in recent history when I was not completely in agreement about
the move by the conglomerates to devalue the OTA franchise and move to
paid distribution.

Here's a bit of news...

I just wrote my last column for Broadcast Engineering. I was informed
this week that my monthly column will be replaced by vendor supplied

Here's the last few paragraphs I submitted for my swan song - I would
note that BE may not be willing to print this...


The Future of DTV: So Long and Thanks for All the Beer

For more than a decade I have been warning the broadcast industry of the
pending obliteration of their franchise at the hands of a real world
hyperspatial expressway, the Internet. In the U.S. about 10 billion
videos are viewed monthly via the Internet. You Tube uploads 13 hours of
content every minute.
This has not been lost on the media conglomerates who provide the high
value content that has allowed over-the-air broadcasting to remain
viable in a world dominated by the multi-channel distribution oligopoly
- cable and DBS. Virtually all prime time TV content can now be accessed
online, on demand. What's more, the commercial load in the online
versions is substantially lower than that in the broadcast versions, or
you can buy commercial-free versions of these programs from iTunes or

The real problem with over-the-air TV is that "appointment TV" is all
but dead. Program adjacency, once the foundation of prime time
scheduling is now meaningless in a world dominated by channel surfing
and web surfing. Broadcasters can still pull in large audiences for live
events, but some of the most important content franchises are beginning
to abandon broadcast TV in favor of cable, which uses the revenue from
monthly subscriber fees to outbid the broadcast networks for high value
content. The College Football Bowl Championship series will move to ESPN
in 2011.

Unfortunately, most broadcasters have done little to prepare themselves
for the day that they move into third place in the content distribution
chain behind the multi-channel services and the Internet. If it makes
you feel better the multichannel services are not likely to survive the
real DTV transition either.

On demand and downloaded content via the Internet is where the Future of
DTV lies. Cable may remain in the game as a provider of broadband pipes,
but they and the telcos, will face new competition in this area.
Competition that may turn the TV white spaces into the next big digital
broadcast medium.

The most important attribute of over-the-air broadcasting is that it is
a wireless medium. In a world where wireless communications has all be
eliminated the need for a wired telephones one can see a large
opportunity for a modernized wireless digital content delivery
infrastructure. The Mobile DTV standard, currently nearing finalization
by the ATSC, offers a glimmer of hope to TV broadcasters. But there are
many obstacles along this path to the future.
First and foremost is access to content. Simulcasting of the primary
programming of a station is not likely to grow the audience, and there
are many unanswered questions about the rights to carry this content in
a mobile service. Live sports could be a significant mobile TV
franchise, but the economics may not work out for delivery of this
content as an advertiser supported free-to-air service. Broadcasters
could focus on the creation of local content; however, economic
viability is tenuous here as well.

The most promising aspect of the transition to Internet-based DTV is the
opportunity for the craft of content creation to flourish once again,
just as the craft of brewing has been revitalized in recent years.
YouTube relies heavily upon content created by independent producers  -
you could call it the mom and pop video business. As we shift to search
engines to find content of interest, the playing field will be leveled a
bit in favor of independent producers, who are now being squeezed out by
the big media conglomerates. This is already happening with musicŠvideo
can't be that far behind.

My 42 years around television has been an incredible experience. With 30
consecutive NAB conventions under my belt, it's time to try something
new. But retirement is NOT an option. So I am embarking on a new career.

In January, The Swamphead Brewery will begin the production of high
quality craft beers in Gainesville, Florida. As the Head Brewer I look
forward to the challenges of building a new business creating beers
filled with compelling content.

For those who want to be part of the future of digital television I
suggest a similar path. To borrow a phrase from our mass media pop
culture - It's the content stupid!


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