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The future: HDTV the FCC and the end of free spectrum

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by saber11, Jan 29, 2003.

  1. saber11

    saber11 Veteran Member

    I was reading a couple interesting articles in Broadcast Engineering Magazine.

    The first one, dealt with HDTV, and what the media companies vision of the future of television would be.

    First, right now new digital rights management standards are being worked out for HDTV by the big players MPAA, RIAA, and the stadards organisation for HDTV. They are trying to get copy protection built into the digital signals, which among other things would:
    A: Make it impossible to record them
    B: pay per use

    What does this have to do with FCC? Well as stations are required to simulcast their signals on both Analog and on digital for a period of years, at some point the FCC will revoke the licenses of the ANalog frequencies and auction of the spectrum for profit.

    Some people within the FCC are wondering why the media conglomerates are granted free spectrum for TV stations, Radop stations and the like, while other users of the spectrum are having to buy spectrum at auction.

    The FCC while they haven't come out and said they will start auctioning new spectrum for digital TV, has said they will revist the guidlines that broadcasters are under for getting a grant of spectrum. These guidlines include, populations access to media, locally originated programing demand, and access to the airwaves for political candidates. These guidlines were established when most towns only had one radio station, and were lucky to have a TV station.

    Now with the prevalence of the internet, and cable TV, satellite TV, satellite radio, there is a good chance the guidlines may no longer apply, and the population of the areas now have many choices for recieving media.

    The FCC may revisit this issue in as few as 2 years.

    What this could mean?

    For one, if media companies have to pay for spectrum, then chances are the advertising supported business model of local TV stations which 97% are owned be larger media companies would no longer be viable.

    Since HDTV is digital, they may have to addopt a model of the cable companies, and charge subscriptions, which will offset the cost of A: Having to pay a premium price for broadcast spectrum, and B: having to a premium price for media programing from the MPAA and their ilk.

    Since the standards of digital broadcasting aren't yet set in stone, there is an opening to build digital rights manamement into them, and force a change in business models.
    Stations in your local area setting up a revenue sharing contract, and offer their programing only to subscribers, and with Rights Management built into the HDTV signals then they will be able to do just this.

    As of right now Broadcasters are opposing any changes in how they are granted spectrum, but with the MPAA and RIAA steamrollers, they may force a change. Especially with the FCC being cash strapped as it is.

    So enjoy watching your local TV stations, and programing, for soon you may have to whip out your credit card just to be able to watch the news.
    Links to what I was reading:


  2. saber11

    saber11 Veteran Member

    The links didn't come through so here they are again:



  3. Twingo

    Twingo Registered User

    I too am concerned that non consumer friendly things will be implemented with the HDTV, but I think in the end most will be limited in the obtrusiveness. I think they will limit recording of PPV type services, but there is no way they will limit the recording of standard programming. Its been challenged in court before an they always lose that battle. Whether it remains 'free' for over the air I'm not sure, but it seems likely that they will. I mean over the air's target audience are those that refuse to pay for cable/satellite so I doubt they would get much $$ from subscriptions for over the air service. They'd be better off continuing to provide it for free and boost their audience so they can charge for advertising, ect.

    I think in the end sure there will be limits that some people will bitch and moan about, but I doubt they'll effect more than 5-10% of the viewing public. I mean TV stations thrive off ratings and they can't afford to piss off the majority of tv watchers by doing something crazy, so they'll do as much as they can to keep the largest audience they can.
  4. Biker

    Biker Administrator Staff Member

    I envision a TV tax as they pay in Great Britain. You pay x amount of dollars annually per TV. Not enforceable?? They actually go around with a list in a van tracing signals. If they detect a signal coming from a house that shows that it hasn't paid the tax, they come a knockin' on the door.
  5. Twingo

    Twingo Registered User

    But if you own 4 tvs do you pay 4x the ammount ?? If so if you're only ever using one at a time how could they enforce you to do so ?? seems like too much effort to enforce anyway. They are allot smaller than us anyway and don't have the vast rural areas to have to roll out to in order to 'enforce' this tax.
  6. Biker

    Biker Administrator Staff Member

    Yup.. You need one "tag" per TV. Forget how much I was paying when I lived there. Think it was around 120 quid for a color TV.
  7. Ugly

    Ugly Fish is Brain Food

    Since when does a television in passive receiving mode emit any detectable radiation at all?

    Is there a cottage industry of folks selling Farraday cages for TV sets?http://www.physics.gla.ac.uk/~kskeldon/PubSci/exhibits/E3/
  8. Coot

    Coot Passed Away January 7, 2010

    All receivers emit detectable levels of RF at the mixer frequency, that same technique is still used to catch cable and satellite pirates.
  9. Ugly

    Ugly Fish is Brain Food

    Sounds like this is easily defeated with some aluminum foil and tape.

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