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Save Free TV...what?


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#1 of 39 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted January 07 2010 - 06:05 AM

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) have been running attractive but vague commercials about how "special interests" are trying to destroy free, local television. But it's completely empty of content. No no website is given for more details; the special interests are not named; no call to contact your political representative. It's simply a broad call to be afraid.

What is this? What are they advertising for or against? What am I to do about these unnamed, shadowy forces that threaten my OTA HDTV?


#2 of 39 ONLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted January 07 2010 - 06:18 AM

If I had to guess, I would say it's the networks against their affiliates. Fox is laying the groundwork to become a cable network, with no affiliates and no over the air transmission. If they decide to move forward with it and prove successful, the other networks would undoubtedly follow.


#3 of 39 OFFLINE   Zack Gibbs

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Posted January 07 2010 - 06:38 AM

I know right? It seems like an issue that's just sprung up overnight.

Part of the issue is a simple fact, Broadcast television as we know it is going to die--it's inevitable. Cable, Satellite, and now the Internet have fractured its business model and there isn't anything they can do about it. I'm sure you heard of the recent Time-Warner/Fox debacle. Though they reached an agreement it was likely the first true sign of the end of the networks in their current form.

I believe there is also some upcoming legislation, and it may also involve a-la-carte programing for cable and satellite.  file:///C:/Users/Dustin/AppData/Local/Temp/moz-screenshot.png"><img alt=
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#4 of 39 OFFLINE   Chuck Anstey

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Posted January 07 2010 - 07:05 AM

I thought this was driven from broadcast providers like Fox starting to really flex their muscles and force cable companies to pay content providers to carry their stations because ad revenue is down.  If I understand the situation correctly, before 1994 content providers (i.e. broadcast stations or cable channels) payed for their costs through advertising.  Cable subscribers were paying for the convenience of not having to hook up an antenna and getting all the non-broadcast channels, but were not paying for the actual content, i.e. "free TV".  In 1994 Congress pass a law to allow content providers to charge cable companies a fee to carry their stations.  So now cable subscribers are actually paying for every program they watch in addition to having to watch commercials.  A win-win for the content providers and a lose-lose for the consumer.

Now they could be referring specifically to free broadcast TV but I think having to pay for channels that also force you to watch advertising is total BS.  If you can't make it in the market place then maybe you should consolidate your programming and shouldn't have so many channels diluting the ad revenue.


#5 of 39 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted January 07 2010 - 12:28 PM

So a national group is advertising in prime time for an issue and no one has a clue what they're talking about? Atta boy, with that ad! /img/vbsmilies/htf/rolleyes.gif

My wife mentioned a kerfuffle between Fox and TW, but I've not heard anything about it.

If there is a serious threat to OTA TV, I would be concerned. OTA HD is higher quality than cable in some (or many) cases and there are issues with using my TivoHD and cable. And cable is $50 per month more expensive.


#6 of 39 ONLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted January 07 2010 - 01:06 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Anstey 

If I understand the situation correctly, before 1994 content providers (i.e. broadcast stations or cable channels) payed for their costs through advertising.  Cable subscribers were paying for the convenience of not having to hook up an antenna and getting all the non-broadcast channels, but were not paying for the actual content, i.e. "free TV".

This is only true for network broadcasts. Cable television was originally invented in 1948 to bring over-the-air broadcasts to areas that could not receive them. A community would have one powerful, commercial-grade antenna that received the signal from a distant television market hundreds of miles away. That signal was then carried over coaxial cable to induvidual homes. The first original programming came following deregulation in 1972. Early cable programming was commercial-free, since users were paying a premium for access. The cable providers in turn paid the cable channels.

The 1994 law allowed broadcasters, who had previously made their money from advertising and affiliate fees, to charge carry fees like the cable-dependent channels do. The fees they charged were generally so low, however, that it never made a difference. Until Fox's bold move at the end of last year.

Now they could be referring specifically to free broadcast TV but I think having to pay for channels that also force you to watch advertising is total BS.  If you can't make it in the market place then maybe you should consolidate your programming and shouldn't have so many channels diluting the ad revenue.

If you have anything other than basic cable, you've been paying for channels with advertising for as long as cable channels have had advertising. If that prospect infuriates you, get a decent antenna. The broadcast networks are still free -- for now.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveF 

So a national group is advertising in prime time for an issue and no one has a clue what they're talking about? Atta boy, with that ad! /img/vbsmilies/htf/rolleyes.gif
I did a little research on the ads; they're not targeted at viewers, exactly, but rather at the FCC. The FCC is considering proposals to reallocate the remaining radio spectrum dedicated to OTA broadcasts (channels 2-51) for additional wireless devices -- think cellphones, iPhones, Blackberries, mobile TVs, etc. This would literally end over the air broadcasts by taking away the spectrum used to broadcast on.

Why might this work? The audience for over the air broadcasts has never been smaller. Before the digital switch, less than 1 in 20 households watched television over the air with an antenna and that number has dropped slightly since. And that roughly 4-5 percent of the population is overwhelmingly poor, making it easier to ignore politically.

That being said, given all of the hoopla over the original switch only a few months back, I can't see Congress letting the FCC end freet OTA broadcast television right now.


#7 of 39 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted January 07 2010 - 01:30 PM

Ah, thanks. I found the NAB site where they explain they are "informing viewers of discussions in Washington" (the word "informing" does not mean what they think it means). But I didn't get any farther than that.

After the years of promoting HDTV and the painful, bungled transition, and the bungled converter box rollout and the people buying new boxes, TVs and antennas...I can't imagine they would be so tone deaf as to throw it all away to radically re-allocate the spectrum.


#8 of 39 OFFLINE   Hanson

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Posted January 08 2010 - 02:26 AM

If Congress does take back the entire broadcast spectrum, what is the justification for the FCC to regulate TV anymore?  As it is, such a small number of people even access OTA broadcasts that the original inception (we give you the signal, you do as we say) barely applies any more.  I'm surprised the networks are still so beholden to FCC regulations.


#9 of 39 ONLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted January 08 2010 - 05:20 AM

There isn't any. There have been attempts in the past to give the FCC jurisdiction over cable, but none have succeeded and all would be constitutionally questionable. In a post-broadcast era, I would think that television regulation would move from the FCC to FTC.


#10 of 39 OFFLINE   Jesse Skeen

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Posted January 13 2010 - 08:43 AM



Both broadcast and cable TV have been an unwatchable mess for the past 15 or so years- I say good riddance to them both!

Home video oddities, old commercials and other junk: http://www.youtube.com/user/eyeh8nbc

#11 of 39 OFFLINE   Hanson

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Posted January 13 2010 - 08:58 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse Skeen 

Both broadcast and cable TV have been an unwatchable mess for the past 15 or so years- I say good riddance to them both!
Is this supposed to be sarcasm?  I can only assume that either a) you click submit 10 years ago through a verrrrry slow dial up connection and it's only now showing up or b) you haven't watched TV in the past 10 years.

The quality of TV program is very high right now -- TV is better than movies as an entertainment medium and has been for about 10 years.  The growth of pay and basic cable as viable programming outlets has caused a cycle of competition and an influx of talent that has created some of the best shows in the history of TV in the past 10 years.

Comments like this boggle my mind.


#12 of 39 ONLINE   TravisR

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Posted January 13 2010 - 09:50 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hanson Yoo View Post

The quality of TV program is very high right now -- TV is better than movies as an entertainment medium and has been for about 10 years.  The growth of pay and basic cable as viable programming outlets has caused a cycle of competition and an influx of talent that has created some of the best shows in the history of TV in the past 10 years.

Comments like this boggle my mind.
 

Beware of the TV On DVD section then- your mind would be very boggled.

#13 of 39 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted January 13 2010 - 10:09 AM

N/T (Don't feed the trolls or they'll stay :)


#14 of 39 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted January 13 2010 - 10:19 AM

When the government rolled out OTA HD (ATSC), stations in the VHF band (channels 2-13) were given new spectrum in the UHF band so they could start broadcasting in HD while continuing their analog broadcasts.  Once analog was turned down they were supposed to give up their licenses for the VHF band and the spectrum was going to be auctioned for new wireless services.  Past auctions allowed Sprint PCS, T-Mobile and other wireless carriers to exist.  The spectrum is worth and will bring in billions of dollars to the government.  Some former VHF stations are claiming they still need that spectrum after all and if they are forced to give it back some people might not be able to receive OTA TV.  Basically they know what its worth and don't want to give it back. 

#15 of 39 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted January 13 2010 - 10:42 AM

Was this UHF band given up nationally? Did all stations that were dual-broadcasting VHF and UHF move DTV broadcasts to VHF, leaving UHF consistently unused coast to coast?

Or are you saying that the Networks or Broadcasters want to get the proceeds of any sale, rather than giving it back free and having the gov't net the "profits"?


#16 of 39 OFFLINE   Josh Dial

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Posted January 13 2010 - 11:57 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Hanson Yoo 

I can only assume that either a) you click submit 10 years ago through a verrrrry slow dial up connection and it's only now showing up or b) you haven't watched TV in the past 10 years.

 
This might be the funniest thing you have ever written, Hanson.  I literally laughed out loud.


#17 of 39 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted January 13 2010 - 12:20 PM


Quote:
Was this UHF band given up nationally? Did all stations that were dual-broadcasting VHF and UHF move DTV broadcasts to VHF, leaving UHF consistently unused coast to coast?

Or are you saying that the Networks or Broadcasters want to get the proceeds of any sale, rather than giving it back free and having the gov't net the "profits"?
 

VHF was given up.  VHF stations (stations 2-13) were given UHF spectrum for their new digital stations country wide with the intent that after they shut down analog that the VHF would go unused and be returned to the government.  I believe a few stations petitioned the government after the switch to keep transmitting on the VHF band if they were having issues getting their signals through.  Some of these exceptions may still be broadcasting.  Everyone else nationwide should have shut theirs down.

Quote:
Or are you saying that the Networks or Broadcasters want to get the proceeds of any sale, rather than giving it back free and having the gov't net the "profits"?

I'm sure some of them are eying ways they could profit from the use or sale of the spectrum.  Keep in mind that in the US the government owns all the spectrum and licenses it to varies companies depending on the frequency (band) and the service.  The VHF TV stations never paid for those frequencies to begin with (there may be an annual license fee) and were given free UHF replacement frequencies, so its not like the government is taking something that the stations own. The best way to look at it would be to say that the government is just not renewing their lease because they can rent it to another tenant who will pay a few billion more.  Additionally to make it easier on them the government found them an almost equivalent place on the other side of town that charges the same.  So while they will incur some moving costs their rent will not increase.

Side note.  The frequencies for TV channel one were taken away from TV stations and given to municipalities to use for police radios a long time ago.  Thats why there is no channel one.

#18 of 39 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted January 13 2010 - 12:23 PM

Here is a chart of what all the frequencies in the US are used for: http://www.ntia.doc....me/allochrt.pdf

#19 of 39 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted January 13 2010 - 12:59 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Gregorich 

VHF was given up.  VHF stations (stations 2-13) were given UHF spectrum for their new digital stations country wide with the intent that after they shut down analog that the VHF would go unused and be returned to the government.  I believe a few stations petitioned the government after the switch to keep transmitting on the VHF band if they were having issues getting their signals through.  Some of these exceptions may still be broadcasting.  Everyone else nationwide should have shut theirs down.
Now I'm more confused: During the transition, broadcasters dual transmitted analog VHF and digital UHF. After the transition some of them moved their digital broadcast from UHF to VHF band. My local NBC and ABC affiliates are broadcasting VHF. So VHF was not wholly given up nationally.

Will local stations have to transition again to new frequencies/


#20 of 39 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted January 13 2010 - 01:11 PM

Correct, but the intent was not to have them switch over their VHF to digital too.  The intent was that they would give that VHF spectrum back as soon as analog went away.  I mentioned that some stations petitioned to keep using the VHF frequencies (with digital signal) if they were having issues getting their UHF signal through.  This situation is/was supposed to be temporary until they could fix or enhance their signal.  I think the commercials are referring to those TV stations that are still using VHF including your NBC and ABC affiliates.  They want to keep using it, but the government wants to clear that frequency nationwide.  Are your affiliates based out of NYC?