Why is the government mandating HDTV?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by EdNichols, Nov 18, 2004.

  1. EdNichols

    EdNichols Second Unit

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    I had heard this back when HDTV was just coming out and have wodered why since. I had forgotten about it until I heard something on the radio the other day and I still don't know why the government is requiring TV signals to be broadcast in HDTV within the next few months. I mean why would the government care how we watch TV unless the TV manufactures have a huge lobbying presence. What is going to be next, requiring that all cars be painted purple because the paint manufactures make more profit on that color?
     
  2. Robert_J

    Robert_J Lead Actor

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    The government is mandating that TV signals be broadcast in a digital form. HD is a subset of digital broadcasting. Some stations may choose to multi-cast (send multiple SD broadcasts over it's digital signal). The switch to digital will free up some spectrum for other services.

    -Robert
     
  3. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    As Robert_J said, the government owns, licenses and regulates the radio spectrum that TV is broadcast in. Prior to HDTV, the government licensed TV broadcasters to a particular spectrum, call it "standard" TV. In order for HD to be phased in, another part of the spectrum had to be set aside for digital broadcasts (call it the HDTV spectrum, but it is really any digital TV). That means the standard TV licensed spectrum and the HDTV licensed spectrum are now both in use by the broadcasters. The HDTV licenses were granted free to the broadcasters in order to promote the change to HDTV. Eventually, the government would like to assign the standard TV spectrum to something else besides TV and relicense it to other providers, thus freeing up more spectrum for use and generating more income from licenses. In order to do this, it created a mandate for all broadcasters to switch to digital broadcasts by a certain date.
     
  4. EricRWem

    EricRWem Screenwriter

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    When do you all think the day will come when I flip my HDTV on and EVERY channel is in glorious, full HD?
     
  5. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    Terrestrial OTA broadcasts are supposed to change to all digital (SD and/or HD, important distinction - there is no mandate for HDTV, only digital broadcasts) by 2006, but there is already talk of extending the mandate. But this does not include cable or satellite. Cable or satellite are not governed by the FCC mandate, so they can switch at their leisure.

    Best guess: Who knows???
     
  6. EricRWem

    EricRWem Screenwriter

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    D'oh! That's what I figured. [​IMG]
     
  7. Mary M S

    Mary M S Screenwriter

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    They have to switch. Our goverment has already auctioned off spectrum used by analog broadcasters to wireless concerns, who have purchased as futures for their continued growth. After bidding billions new owners are just tapping their feet till the goverment gets all NTSC switched over.
    As channels shift more will become available for auction. This bandwidth was sold to help balance our budget, it is worth.....a lot.

    Your goverment is highly involved ...but its a quesion of money, not our PQ.
     
  8. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Because the gov't is greedy, and they still have not yet learned that you cannot legislate technology. (Anyone remember the dream of electric cars? But capitalism has yielded hybrids, which are doing quite fine thank you, regardless of the government's involvement.)

    Mary- I don't think that the analog airwaves have been auctioned off yet. ?? That's why the 2006 date will almost definitely be delayed. There are requirements as to what the penetration of HDTV hardware into homes has to be, and/or the percentage of programming before the switch is allowed to take place. We are not even close.

    Plus, my quick opinion is that just like SACD and DVD-A for audio, the average consumer doesn't give a crap about higher res TV. That's one reason why it's proceeding so slowly.
     
  9. Mary M S

    Mary M S Screenwriter

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    My understanding (at last look, and I have trouble keeping track of it!) was that in 2000 large blocks of spectrum were planned for auction involving NTSC spectrum. Knowing that these auctions would include encumbrances. New licensee to either have to pay stations using the frequency to stop transmitting upon such, and/or waiting till transition of old licensees to digital was completed. The Congressional Budget Office projected back then something like 18? Billion in auction receipts through 2006-7? I assume some of these auction have occurred, but am not certain.

    Here’s a quote from way back, (this has been going on a long while) which illustrates some of the difficulties that arise for industry/ new technology R&D / Corporations who opt to ‘bid’ upon frequencies whose future is not always certain. This was written in reply to the bidders concerns during a current auction that the frequency would be protected from close frequency interference, allowing for a commercially viable product to be delivered to consumer.

    “Nevertheless, I would be remiss if I did not mention that I remain concerned about the repercussive negative effects of having spectrum management decisions driven by auction methodology. Since this Commission was given initially the authority to use competitive bidding while I served as Chairman, I have often reiterated my belief that auctions are a licensing method, they are not a spectrum management technique. To confuse one with the other does violence to the goals and purposes of both. Management of the radio frequency spectrum in the public interest is one of the fundamental purposes for which this Federal Communications Commission was created. Determining which innovative new communications services are worthy of an allocation of this valuable natural resource and where in the usable radio frequency band such service should be provided is the essence of responsible spectrum management in behalf of our fellow citizens, i.e., determining "what" and "where" serves the public interest by, inter alia, minimizing harmful radio interference. In this particular 'Wireless Communications Service,' however, these decisions were taken out of our hands. The allocation and assignment decisions were made legislatively. Congress directed this Commission to reallocate certain frequencies to "wireless services" (delimited only by consistency with "international agreements") and to assign licenses by auction on a specific and expedited timetable. The focus was on receipt of auction revenues into the national treasury by a date certain. The budget process rather than engineering principles drove the overarching allocation and assignment decisions. Our decisions on the interstitial technical criteria were similarly bound by the revenue-based allocation and assignment parameters.”
    Separate Statementof Commissioner James H. Quello April 2, 1997 Re: Amendment of the Commission's Rules to Establish Part 27, the Wireless Communications Services ("WCS"), GN Docket No. 96-228.
     
  10. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    I read all that. Twice. And I still didn't really understand what they were talking about. [​IMG] I guess the bottom line is, whether they did or didn't auction of the licenses yet, I have read too many comments in the HT rags recently that the date will be delayed. Which is probably a good thing.
     
  11. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    God so many words so much prognosticating....


    Color TV was mandated once in a similar way, remember? DTV is the next step. It's really nothing more than that.
     
  12. Mary M S

    Mary M S Screenwriter

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    I read all that. Twice. And I still didn't really understand what they were talking about

    Sorry Kevin, I guess it was a bit out of context.
    I pulled it just to illustrate that Politics mixing in Technology = can equal mess.
    The commissioner quoted is mentioning his reservations regarding the fact that deadlines were set for sale which do not take into allowance any concerns engineers have over new technology and R&D which could affect the frequencies in question.

    .There was concern, during this particular auction, that different band frequency owners intended to up the wattage of (whatever) they were using in a nearby FR, subsequently opening up the possibility that the current bidders would find their potential purchase (after purchase) unusable (or of poor quality to consumer) due to the effects of pending changes requested by the licensed owners of those nearby frequencies.

    In other words the government was forcing the hand of bidders if they desired to ever acquire this particular frequency range, to commit their company’s funds without any assurances that they would not later have large issues (after purchase) with interference from other quarters, in the frequency band currently for sale.

    The current group of bidder's requested the auction to be delayed till the FCC would clarify their position and issue guidance in R&D, firming up guidelines for these FCC pending decision, as regards requests by the licensees of nearby frequencies which would help to assure the integrity (and value) of the frequency in question. Request for clarification delay was denied. Due to (my original reason for popping in this commissioner’s quote) new auction system placing priority on monetary issues of government (make the money) regardless of engineering concerns involved.

    I understand that around 98 before the 2000 auction in question, there had been a fiasco during first auctions, because of senate rush to add funds to coffer.. The bids involved were huge, successful bidders could not complete financing which the government was thereupon forced to subsidize themselves. Then large defaults occurred.

    This Commissioner while denying petitioners request, felt compelled to mildly condemn the new goverment “focus” on … revenues” these auctions bring to bear, rather than technical spectrum issues of managing “this valuable natural (and limited) resource ”for the public good”
     
  13. EdNichols

    EdNichols Second Unit

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    So, to get to the bottom line. The government makes money, the TV companies make money, the companies who make the boxes that will allow regular TV's to work with HD signals make money and WE have to pay for it all!

    Why can't the governmant mandate to reduce my cable bill? It goes up twice a year, supposedly because they are adding channels, but quite frankly, I don't care to receive the Russian Underwater Blond Female Soccer Channel.
     
  14. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    I wrote a paper on this quite some time ago, but yes the main motivation behind the gov's move was compressing the current analog spectrum down using digital transmission, to sell off parts of it to other uses that are in high demand. The carrot in this is the promise of HD of course.

    The legal cases behind changes in television are fascinating, however, I may have to try to dig up that paper again, it had a lot of neat caselaw that I used in the background of the FCC's move to digital broadcasting, arising mainly during the move to color, and then to VHF.
     

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