(Mis)Uses of Technology

by Mike Masnick

Broadcasters Finally Ready To Move Away From Analog

from the took-'em-long-enough dept

TV broadcasters have been dragging their feet for years on moving to digital broadcast technology, allowing them to hang onto tremendous portions of spectrum that they were handed for free. Since the original rules for giving them this spectrum was that they wouldn't have to abandon their analog spectrum until 85% of the population was digital-enabled, there was no rush at all by broadcasters to make the move. However, it looks like increasing political pressure has finally made them agree to move away from analog TV by the beginning of 2009. Of course, there will still be plenty of political fighting over this, so it's quite likely the date will get pushed back again. Also, there's no agreement on how to handle the (shrinking) group of people who are still stuck on analog only TVs watching over-the-air programming. Last year, a proposal was put forth to allocate $1 billion to help buy those people converters, which may seem like a lot until you realize how many billions the government is likely to make in return by being able to auction off the valuable reclaimed spectrum. Expect plenty of confusion over this issue as plenty of people who won't be impacted at all will be afraid that they won't be able to watch TV any more. Also, expect folks who haven't figured out the difference between digital TV and HDTV to whine about why they have to get an HDTV -- which really has nothing to do with this whatsoever.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous of Course, Jul 15th, 2005 @ 9:01am

    Be prepared to pay

    Once over the air analog TV is history, you'll have to pay for your digital TV. I can see it coming a mile away.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Mike (profile), Jul 15th, 2005 @ 9:41am

    Re: Be prepared to pay

    Hmm. Extremely unlikely, given the way the government views these kinds of things. However, you will still have to pay for cable or satellite or whatever... but that has little to do with any of this.

    However, the bargain on giving the spectrum to broadcasters is that this is a public good -- so they are very much required to offer it for free.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous of Course, Jul 15th, 2005 @ 11:41am

    Re: Be prepared to pay

    There's already a precedent for pay TV over the air. In the 1950's CH13 out of Hartford CT ran the teleprompter system and in the 1980's a station out of Worcester MA switched to pay TV in the evening and ran soft porn programming. OK, you may still find a meager amount of low grade programming for free. But anything worth watching will be pay or pay-for-view. You can take that to the bank. The attraction of more revenue is much to strong to ignore.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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