[opendtv] Re: Way ON topic

  • From: "Cliff Benham" <flyback1@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 07 Mar 2007 05:18:41 -0500

  -----Original Message-----
  From: opendtv-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:opendtv-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]On
Behalf Of Barry Wilkins
  Sent: Wednesday, March 07, 2007 3:29 AM
  To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  Subject: [opendtv] Re: Way ON topic

  It has been widely commented on opendtv that broadcasters in the USA have
been unwilling to advertise the fact that the coming transition is imminent
(so get an  ATSC STB ).
  What requirements have been set down to ensure broadcasters adequately
inform the public of the impending change? What form will this take - will
they be required to do blanket commercials stating the changeover to take
place months or weeks before the event?
  [Cliff Benham] The broadcasters will not tell the viewers about the
transition because their stations are carried by the cable companies who
don't want the viewers to know, so they will think the only way to get
digital TV is by subscribing to cable.
  Some stations have been threatened with withdrawal of all cable
advertising if they so much as mention or promote their over the air channel
number or provide viewers with information about receiving 'free' DTV over
the air.

  I can imagine that the awareness campaign is not likely to be embraced by
broadcasters until the very last minute.
  [Cliff Benham] Would you begin such a campaign if you stood to lose
hundreds of thousands of advertising dollars?

  I notice here that TVNZ are about to launch FTA DTV in early May but there
has been very little marketing of this new platform. Nobody is promoting
it - yet. Sounds familiar?
  [Cliff Benham] But probably for different reasons than here in the US.

  Does the DTV transition in the US offer the majority of current analog OTA
customers sufficient advantages to compel them to make the change willingly,
i.e. how many of them will be impressed by the better picture quality, both
from a resolution and interference aspect?
  [Cliff Benham] I am an early adopter, owning as many as 10 different set
top boxes since the first DTV transmissions began in Philadelphia
  in the late 1990s. In the approximately 10 years that has elapsed, the
same reception difficulties still persist since I lived in Boothwyn, north
of Wilmington
  to the present day where I am living 12 miles from the Maryland border.

  ATSC reception is full of audio dropouts and stalled pictures, breakups
and in some cases no reception what ever from channels the boxes recognize
and place on "it's list". I cannot receive any FOX DTV stations, either from
Baltimore ar Philadelphia. If you recorded what I can receive with an eye to
playing it on another TV station over the air you could not do it. I Tivo
all the news shows from the local ABC station through my Samsung 260 and
watch them at my convenience. The picture quality is completely unairworthy.
  If you want to see what I have to watch, I'll burn you a DVD and mail it
to you. I have a 7 ft parabolic UHF antenna 28 feet in the air with a mast
mounted preamp and I'm using 40 feet of RG-11 low loss coax cable to get to
the Samsung. I am 400 feet above sea level and I can't get video you could
  from any channel I can receive. The ATSC system was supposed to make video
look perfect without all the problems inherent in NTSC. IT DOES NOT IN ANY
  We as a nation have been sold a bill of goods and the truth hidden by
legislators and the cable companies. Only when the analog broadcasts stop
  and people suddenly can't watch TV without paying for it will their
clammer become loud enough to make something happen.
  If the majority are not willing to change until pushed you may as well do
it now as wait. Why not?
  [Cliff Benham] Because they just don't know it's happening. No one in the
gov't or in broadcasting has told them. Or will.  I have never heard it
mentioned on any network news show. Ever. Not even on PBS.
  Once upon a time, when mains power changed from DC to AC, this must have
happened with the blessing of all. The appliance dealers could supply a
whole mess of new fangled gadgets and the customers wanted these. The
electric power  retailers would now sell a whole lot more energy and
distribute it more efficiently. Everybody won.
  [Cliff Benham] In the 1930s, Los Angeles ran on 50 cycle power. When the
change to 60 occurred, the gov't set up shops for people to bring in their
electric clocks to be fitted with new 60 cycle motors for a few dollars so
they would keep accurate time instead of gaining 12 minutes per hour. That
would never happen today.
  The transition to Colour TV had similar popularity.
  [Cliff Benham] The transition to color did not require everyone to go out
and buy new sets just to be able to keep watching television. Color TV was
compatable with B&W. DTV is not compatable in any way. To keep watching
television you must at least buy a new set top box. And, it has been my
experience over the last 10 years that owning as many as 10 set top boxes
and at least a half dozen indoor and outdoor antennas set up in two
different communities is no guarantee of good reception. Or of any reception
in the case of FOX. As for the transition to Colour TV in the UK, it began
in 1967, and the last 405 line B&W transmitter was not finally turned off
until 1984 or 1985, two or three years short of two decades after it began.

  So if ATSC receivers are now viable and relatively cheap, and HDTV would
be embraced by all once educated, who is paying who to not promote OTA HDTV?
  [Cliff Benham] Again it's the cable companies. This has been mentioned
several times over the years on this list. I also have heard this from
speaking with a few enginers I know who work for the local network
affiliates. Some of them worked for me.
  I have been in broadcasting since 1967 and for most of the last 20 years
was Chief Engineer of  QVC, the cable shopping channel. Before that
  I worked for Hubbard Broadcasting and several local network affiliate
stations prior.  I am now retired and have plenty of time to criticize the
turn this industry
  has taken. Until I can receive broadcast worthy over the air digital
television pictures at home like I can over satellite and cable, I will
continue to complain.
  Cliff Benham


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