I'm as Mad as Hell, and I'm Not Gonna Take It Anymore

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Most broadcast policy wonks I've talked to agree that the HDTV transition is among the most misbegotten schemes in that sphere ever to make it from a lobbyist's fevered daydreams to actual policy. In a country where some 85 percent of households are hooked up to cable or satellite, Congress has decided to hand the French Riviera of spectrum over to incumbent broadcasters—spectrum that might be used instead for, say, wireless Internet applications or communications for emergency workers—so that they can give us… high resolution Friends reruns. Over the air, that is: Anyone who cares that much about counting the pores on Joey Treviano's nose can already pony up for cable. HDTV was a scam broadcasters pushed to reserve valuable spectrum, and as occasional Reason contributor Drew Clark explains in this National Journal piece, it's also linked to the execrable broadcast flag. (Hat tip: Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing)

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  1. The first paragaph has a mistake, so I didn’t bother to read the rest.

    For one, the madate is to broadcast a digital signal, not HD. Big difference.

    Secondly, the FCC did lop off channels from the spectrum, (but they lopped off the wrong ones, IMO.)

    Lastly, some digital cable systems I’ve seen severe downgrade the picture to cram more channels in, so OTA HD has its advantages.

  2. And (according to IMDB) it’s Joey Tribbiani; not Joey Triviano.

    Sheesh!

  3. For one, the madate is to broadcast a digital signal, not HD. Big difference.

    One HD channel or multiple standard definition (SD) channels. The broadcasters want multiple SD channnels.

  4. Lastly, some digital cable systems I’ve seen severe downgrade the picture to cram more channels in, so OTA HD has its advantages.

    Broadcasters want to do the same with digital, sending SD instead of HD video. Of course, the SD will still outperform traditional NTSC analog video by a small amount, except when it reaches a point the signal will be lost. If you really want to, you can watch a real fuzzy NTSC signal and figure out what’s going on.

  5. So I guess I’m the only one in the US who only watches OTA DTV? 🙂 The SD broadcasts (which is almost everything except for special subchannels and primetime) is massively better than the ATSC broadcast (at least where I live.)

    The 19.2mbps DTV signal can be split up into subchannels in whatever method the broadcaster chooses.

    The Spectrum that they were ‘given’ is temporary (at least in theory.) Once NTSC goes away the broadcasters will have to return one of their two channel assignments (most VHF NTSC broadcasters are likely to switch their ATSC broadcast to VHF.)

    In any case, the Spectrum they’re using is (at least here in LA) in the existing VHF/UHF spectrum, so I’m not sure it could be used for anything else in any case.

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