Why Is Kevin Martin Advertising The DTV Switch On Dish Network?

from the confusion-reigns dept

Last week, we noted that the GAO was concerned that the FCC didn't have plans in place to educate consumers about the switch from analog TV to digital TV, set to take place in February of 2009. Kevin Martin and the FCC shot back that the GAO was incorrect, and it has an education campaign well planned out. It would appear that's true, but that campaign is already raising some controversy. Reader MaxB312 writes in to point us to a Public Service Announcement that Martin himself filmed for Dish Network:
As the summary of the video makes clear, some people are interpreting this commercial to be a sly way of suggesting that those who have analog TV should just sign up for Dish rather than getting a converter. Martin makes it clear that Dish Network subscribers have nothing to worry about, since this only impacts free over-the-air (FOTA) TV, and then says "but if your TV has rabbit ears or a rooftop antenna, you'll need a satellite box or a converter box." The problem is that you really only "need" a converter box -- not satellite. A satellite box would get you entirely beyond the issue of FOTA TV. Of course, so would a cable service -- which Martin doesn't mention at all. No wonder, since he apparently has it in for cable companies. While I don't necessarily buy the conspiracy theory that this is an attempt to help out satellite providers, it does raise an important question: why is the FCC advertising this to people for whom it won't matter? Why would the FCC put PSAs on either satellite or cable TV offerings when the switch doesn't impact those people at all? Perhaps the GAO's real complaint wasn't that the FCC didn't have a plan on how to educate people -- but that the plan consisted of educating the wrong group of people. Update: Well that answers that. As a bunch of folks noted in the comments, it's mainly targeted at rural areas where the broadcast OTA stations aren't all available via Dish.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    R.H., Dec 20th, 2007 @ 1:06am

    Too Paranoid?

    Ok now. There are still some places where you can't get all of your local FOTA TV signals from your satellite provider. Those people have antenna's or rabbit ears to get their local FOTA TV channels. The change to DTV will impact them. Therefore, I understand the PSA on satellite networks however, I have cable and is there any place in the US where the local cable monopoly doesn't offer all of the FOTA TV stations? If so then alright, but if not then why do I see similar PSAs on cable stations?

     

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    Falindraun, Dec 20th, 2007 @ 1:12am

    The reason he didn't mention the cable TV option is because the commercial is for Dish Network. Henceforth the Dish Network Logo at the end of the commercial.

     

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  3.  
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    Extremulus, Dec 20th, 2007 @ 1:34am

    This is a fact for many rural households

    A large number of satellite subscribers hale from the rural areas of this country. Cable TV is simply not available, or does not offer a competitive number of channels or price. My parents live in a rural community and cannot receive cable, and cannot afford to pay the additional fee to satellite companies for the FOTA stations. Others cannot get their local affiliates on the satellite because of the small size of their market. This commercial may be a touch self-serving, but is honestly still a PSA.

     

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  4.  
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    Rick, Dec 20th, 2007 @ 2:06am

    Me too

    I live in a rural market and have Dish network. I also pay the extra $5/month for local channels. One network is not available so I get that network from a national superstation, through DISH.

    I also have an antenna hooked up to my DISH box, so I can receive the ONE local HDTV channel available (none of the other 4 locals have started offering digital signals yet). DISH also does not carry the local HDTV signal, which sucks.

    I'd be more interested in being provided with information on when each individual station is going to provide digital signals to DISH and IF they will provide them to me.

    I assume they don't have the satellite capacity to provide HDTV locals nationwide, so local rural markets are ignored - for now?

     

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  5.  
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    John M, Dec 20th, 2007 @ 2:31am

    A similar thought had crossed my mind many times in the past. I'm a DirecTV subscriber, and ALL THE TIME they have "sign up for DirecTV service now!" commercials...

    This seems to be a similar issue, telling satellite users why they need to upgrade to satellite =P

    I personally came to the conclusion that it must be for the off-chance that you have a guest at your home who doesn't have a digital solution or satellite provider. Nothing else really makes sense to me.

     

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  6.  
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    Mike R, Dec 20th, 2007 @ 6:05am

    FCC DishNetwork Commercial

    You conspiracy theorists are reading *way* too much into this commercial.

    Did it not occur to you that Kevin states you'll need a "converter" box (a digital receiver box for OTA signals) or a satellite box (both of which are true) after the deadline, and that this was created as a "DishNetwork" commercial, because many people were afraid that even DishNetwork services would be affected? I don't have enough fingers and toes to count how many people I've had to explain this to.

    If, in my lil' town of 17k people, I've had to explain over and over again, it will most likely be a problem all over the US. Yes, people like you and I understand that OTA signals from our local stations and a satellite signal are different, but the "Average Joe" has no clue.

    This is such a non-story, my side hurts. There surely had to be *something* else you could have reported on.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2007 @ 6:30am

    I have DirectTV now, and they will now 'offer' me local channels in HDTV, I have to depend on a seperate antennae to get them if I want them. Although I do get local analog channels through DirectTV. Do you think when this change takes place in 2009, they will start offering the HD channels in place of the analog ones?

     

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  8.  
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    Oliver Wendell Jones, Dec 20th, 2007 @ 7:02am

    Re: This is a fact for many rural households

    "Others cannot get their local affiliates on the satellite because of the small size of their market."

    Local affiliates can't get on the satellites because most of them can't afford the $20,000 it costs (for equipment) to get your station added to their lineup.

    The people that upset me the most are the satellite TV installers who advertise on local channels and tell unsuspecting consumers that "you can get all your local channels for only a few dollars more per month" when they know perfectly well that you can't get your local channels because they're not available.

     

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  9.  
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    Steve (profile), Dec 20th, 2007 @ 7:27am

    Still doesnt make sense..

    I understand targeting the message at the "rural areas" that dont get locals via dish, but that doesn't answer the question of why to put the ads on the dish system? They should put them on the OTA locals, which
    1: have a vested interest
    2: viewers will be impacted

    Viewers who dont watch the locals, and already have dish, dont care, and wont be impacted, so putting it on some digital dish channel is irrelevant... Put the ad on the local news, or "oprah" and you'll get all the viewers that'll be impacted..

    Also, the implication of the requirement of a sat box, excluding cable, is suspect.

     

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  10.  
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    chris (profile), Dec 20th, 2007 @ 7:28am

    it's obvious

    kevin martin is a telco whore, the telcos often partner with satellite providers, therefore, kevin martin is also a satellite TV whore. AT&T probably told him to do it, and he was like "anything you say big daddy!"

     

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  11.  
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    Mikey, Dec 20th, 2007 @ 8:14am

    Cable does it too

    Cable promotes the transition. Why? because with cable, you don't care about it...you're covered.

     

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  12.  
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    Bill, Dec 20th, 2007 @ 11:40am

    Re: #2 Falindraun

    Falindraun is dead-on. I've seen the same commercial touting cable tv (on cable). What I've not seen is this PSA on my local "air" channels. There is no question about it, Dish and Cable stand to make a lot of money between now and 02/2009. If you still think this is simple paranoia...watch the stocks. It's going to be a record year for Dish and cable.

     

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  13.  
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    john bennett, Dec 20th, 2007 @ 3:04pm

    Shift to digital TV

    The station I listen to most in DC, WETA, has started broadcasting in digital. I get it by cable. I was amazed to see that my 4 year old analog TV cropped off 20-30 percent of the screen. The result of the re-formating of the screen to widen it, that's a real bargain. It leads me more and more to not watching at all. It is a bargain--provides time for more productive activities.

     

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  14.  
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    Carl C. Hybels, Dec 31st, 2007 @ 9:12pm

    Angry At the Forced Switch

    I am still quite angry at the forced switch that big business will be forcing on 17 to 10 million Americans: Shutting off the good free analog tv signals. Why? Why force instead of rely on true free market principles (people liking HD better, but not forced to only have digital)? Because big business: the cable, satellite, the above DishNetwork and HD TV makers all want to get more money from us by forcing, rather than simply selling, a different tech. And according to DTVAnswers.com, the freed analog space will be "available" (i.e., stolen by) "Entrepeneurs" to "use for more electronic purposes." DTVAnswers, being a wing of the National Association of Broadcasters, is in favor of this stealing from 20 million Americans to give to business people. I am not. Maybe when more people get outraged they will push back the deadline further or work to repeal (unlikely) the Bush Congress' 2005 ruling that sold out the analog (i.e. free) tv.

     

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    Mike (profile), Jan 1st, 2008 @ 6:18pm

    Re: Angry At the Forced Switch

    Shutting off the good free analog tv signals. Why?

    Why? Because the gov't gave those signals to the networks for free despite them being tremendously valuable. On top of that, the gov't gave the networks another set of spectrum for digital. If you look at who owns most of the available spectrum, you'll find that a HUGE portion is tied up for the TV networks, who never paid for it. That's a huge problem.

    Why force instead of rely on true free market principles (people liking HD better, but not forced to only have digital)?

    HD has nothing to do with digital... Also, I'm unclear on how giving the networks a TON of spectrum for free is "relying on true free market principles). Seems like the reverse to me. By taking the spectrum back and actually putting it to good use, it seems like the free market will actually decide what it should be used for.

    Because big business: the cable, satellite, the above DishNetwork and HD TV makers all want to get more money from us by forcing, rather than simply selling, a different tech.

    You need to learn a little bit about what's happening. This has nothing to do with HDTV. This has nothing to do with cable or satellite. You are arguing about something totally unrelated to the spectrum shift.

    And according to DTVAnswers.com, the freed analog space will be "available" (i.e., stolen by) "Entrepeneurs" to "use for more electronic purposes."

    Huh? Wow. You really need to learn a little bit more about what's going on. No one is "stealing" the spectrum. The networks were originally granted the spectrum for free. What's happening now is that it will finally be sold so it can be put to good use.

    Maybe when more people get outraged they will push back the deadline further or work to repeal (unlikely) the Bush Congress' 2005 ruling that sold out the analog (i.e. free) tv.

    Again, you REALLY need to learn. The switch to digital TV does not change what TV will be available for free. Digital TV will still be available for free over the air. That's what this is about. It has nothing to do with cable or satellite. In fact, you should be able to get better quality over the air TV (yes, for free) after the switch.

    You appear to be very, very, very confused about what this story is about. I'd suggest you do some reading on it before you complain.

     

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  16.  
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    Bart, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 6:48am

    Re: Re: Angry At the Forced Switch

    You said: Why? Because the gov't gave those signals to the networks for free despite them being tremendously valuable. Uh...The government did not create the airwaves. Although I will grant that some regulation of the airwaves might be construed as a promotion of the general welfare, the electromagnetic spectrum does not (should not?) belong to the government to sell.

     

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