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US Still Dithering Over Analog-Digital TV Conversion

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the 500-channels-of-reruns dept.

Television 353

Robin Ingenthron writes "As 2007 gets closer, the legislation to postpone mandatory transition from Analog TV broadcast to Digital is taking shape. Here's an idea - make the broadcasters pay to use the airwaves (they get both analog and digital spectrum for free). For that matter, why permanently auction the bandwidth to cell phone companies, why not rent it to them too? Each postponement keeps the Fed budget in the red, so consumers have a choice -- between analog (black borders on the sides of their digital TVs) and digital (black borders on the top and bottom of their analog TV)."

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Back to State's Rights (1, Insightful)

stecoop (759508) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330117)

I really don't know why the federal government is selling the rights that the individual States should be doing. Each state should have the right to lease or sell spectrum. That includes keeping your spectrum off other peoples land (interstates) unless there is an agreement between states. At the local level, I would never outright sell a commodity without some kind of royalties in return - think about land property tax we all pay; so why isn't there a property value assets towards the highly valuable spectrum? This would allow the state to boot venders that violate some quality standard and re-sell it to a better vendor if the state (local population) decides to.

Re:Back to State's Rights (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10330162)

GWB uses ANALog.

Teh united state america sucks.

Re:Back to State's Rights (4, Insightful)

csnydermvpsoft (596111) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330190)

That includes keeping your spectrum off other peoples land (interstates) unless there is an agreement between states.

How would that work for long-distance transmissions? For instance, I can get Philadelphia's 1210 AM station in western Michigan, and I've heard of people being able to get it as far away as Iowa. How would that be regulated? Would the station have to get a license for every state they could possibly cover, or would all of those states have to sign agreements?

Re:Back to State's Rights (1, Insightful)

stecoop (759508) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330543)

Well, actually the would be a good justification for my scenario. Think about it - the FCC sells the band at 1210 AM in both Philadelphia and Michigan to whoever wants to buy it - that may include a local station trampling over the long distance one. Now with the state agreement - the two states would know that there is an agreement for this spectrum since there is a market for it.

But after typing the sentence above, I realized that this could be used as a political censorship tool. Hmm a state could trample on transmissions they deemed undesirable - what would some conservative states say about the Howard Stern show?

Mining, flying (3, Interesting)

missing000 (602285) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330203)

There are lots of rights that are nationally appropriated. The real questions is why regulate the spectrum at all.

It would be quite simple and lead to greater use if there was simply an arbitration process put in place to prevent infringing use. There is lots of spectrum available and devices are much better at not polluting it today.

The problem with massive deregulation is one of cost however. The FCC (and by proxy the Federal Govt.) makes lots of money from selling access rights.

Re:Mining, flying (2, Insightful)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330333)

"The real questions is why regulate the spectrum at all. [. . .] arbitration process put in place to prevent infringing use. [. . . ] The problem with massive deregulation is one of cost however. The FCC (and by proxy the Federal Govt.) makes lots of money from selling access rights."

The problem is not cost (or Fed income). The problem is the deepest pockets would win the spectrum. I personally like the EIB network even if I periodically disagree with them. What scares me is if their parent company (Clear Channel Communications) had their way they'd own even more spectrum. The FCC is (barely) keeping them in check and your idea would effectively give them access to the entire US spectrum.

-nB

Re:Mining, flying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10330431)

You know what, let's do it the libertarian way, keep the fsking government out and hey, if Clear Channel owns the entire spectrum, oh fscking well, remember he who pays the piper gets to pick the song. If clear channel can afford it, why not let them, isn't that capitalism at it's finest?

Re:Mining, flying (1)

KingAdrock (115014) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330501)

I think Adam Smith would have disagreed that Monopolies were capitalism at its finest.

Re:Mining, flying (2, Insightful)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330542)

"You know what, let's do it the libertarian way, keep the fsking government out and hey, if Clear Channel owns the entire spectrum, oh fscking well, remember he who pays the piper gets to pick the song. If clear channel can afford it, why not let them, isn't that capitalism at it's finest?"

I hope you get modded up ;).
Yes this is true, but going the libertarian way is opening Pandora's box. The thing is if you are going to do that you need to go all in (IMHO). Most Americans (/. crowd included) don't really want that. The few that do are often seen as more conservative than the Republican Party. If we (U.S.A.) were to go truly into the libertarian way of doing things I think one of two things would happen:
1) All hell would break loose as MegaCorp Inc. takes over the world like some bad 80's SF movie.
or
2) It actually works as the citizenship steps up to the plate and behave like adults (yeah right).

Heinlin got it right with Bread and Circuses. (If you don't understand the reference, go read Take Back Your Government).

-nB

Re:Back to State's Rights (4, Insightful)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330251)

I would tend to think this _does_ belong in the federal domain because radio emissions tend to carry across state (and national) borders, no matter how well you police them (on a good day I can send a 500 mW signal from CA to HI). If it was a state by state thing it would end up costing taxpayers more in the end and may result in those living at state borders not having any reasonable broadcast TV as two states are in a pissing contest as to who gets to host the transmitter (and thus get the tax revenue). By licencing on a federal level those issues are rendered non-issues.
I fully understand your point of view, I just think that in this case the current governing system is fine the way it is. That does not mean I like the selling of spectrum the way the FCC does it, just that I think a bunch of SCC's (State Communication Commissions) is worse than one FCC.
-nB

And hust how (1)

wiredog (43288) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330256)

do you keep the signal

A)Available throughout an entire, non-circular state and

B)completely withing that state?

Re:Back to State's Rights (1)

strictfoo (805322) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330267)

Yep, good idea. All we need now is to put up 100,000 ft walls to make sure those radio waves don't leak into neighboring states.

Re:Back to State's Rights (1)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330514)

Each state should have the right to lease or sell spectrum.

How would you prevent a broadcaster in New York City from sending their signal into New Jersey and Connecticut?

If states were of uniform size and shape, and broadcasters were situated in the geographic center of each, there might be a case for it. But as it stands now, broadcast signals neither know nor care about state borders.

some gmail invites (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10330120)

Dude ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10330186)

These are the same addresses they have been posting for awile....

at least if you are gonna troll, change the link text to something new!!!

daaff

Re:Dude ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10330207)

why? the troll works everytime I post it. I see no need to please you..

No thanks, spend the money elsewhere please. (5, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330122)

McCain's measure would require broadcasters to air only digital television signals by 2009 and help consumers who rely on traditional television sets buy devices that would convert digital back into a format that they could watch.

"Consumers who rely on over-the-air television, particularly those of limited economic means, should be assisted," according to the draft obtained by Reuters.


How about we just not mandate that the signals go all digital? I have said it before... The taxpayers are getting fucked TWICE on this deal. We have to pay for the mandate to happen and we have to pay for the fucking digital tuners as well all for something that I really don't care to have anyway. TV isn't that important as it is, especially stuff that comes OTA so why do we need to waste billions of dollars on this technology? Just so I can watch the Vikings lose or the Simpsons have another bad season in digital quality? No thanks... How about you spend that money on regulating the corporations that deliver content over cable and telephone? Personally I am more interested in that digital information.

And because I don't want a digital set/tuner I won't be able to watch TV without it. I am assuming I wouldn't be one of those people that are considered acceptable for help...

Re:No thanks, spend the money elsewhere please. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10330160)

I'd rather spend my time dithering over printers.

<boos, thrown objects>

Re:No thanks, spend the money elsewhere please. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10330199)

Analog TV is a waste of bandwidth. If you don't want TV, why not give the frequency to something which many of us care a lot about: Wireless networking.

Re:No thanks, spend the money elsewhere please. (1)

skaeight (653904) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330220)

I completely agree. It's ridiculous that they're making us buy new tv's. I will not until I absolutely have to.

Re:No thanks, spend the money elsewhere please. (5, Interesting)

jfengel (409917) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330454)

There are two reasons for the switch:

1. The new technology makes more efficient use of the bandwidth

2. The bandwidth currently being used by TV signals is particularly valuable set of frequencies. One important potential use of it is for emergency communications, which couldn't be done as well at the higher frequencies to which the TV networks are being moved. (I believe that has to do with the better penetration capability of the lower frequencies, while the relatively immobile TV receiver can use an exertnal antenna. But I'm not certain of this.)

A corollary to #1 and #2 is that the bandwidth can be resold to wireless providers for a lot of money, thus netting a windfall for the US budget and decreasing the deficit.

Oh, BTW: you probably won't actually get the Simpsons in higher quality. The DTV standard allows them to subdivide the signals, so they get to pump you the Vikings losing AND the Redskins losing AND the Red Sox losing at the same quality as you already had.

The upshot: it's not about quality; it's about efficient allocation of bandwidth and the ability of the US consumer to have more options and make some money off the sale of bandwidth. (Not enough, to my tastes: the TV networks make vast sums of money off that bandwidth, because an awful lot of people enjoy what they're producing.)

That may not be sufficient reason for you to outweigh the price of the digital tuners, but there are reasons.

Re:No thanks, spend the money elsewhere please. (1, Troll)

I'm Spartacus! (238085) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330619)

How about we just not mandate that the signals go all digital?

How about we don't? How about we allow the free market to determine what customers want instead of forcing providers to deliver content in the format that the government deems acceptable?

Having said that, I agree with you that this is an absurd abuse of taxpayer funds. It's incredible that Congressmen are now advocating subsidizing T.V. viewing for the "needy". Actually, it's not so surprising. We can't have the public turn away from the most effective propaganda tool ever conceived, can we? How would politicians justify their existance without poisoning the minds of the public?

It doesn't much matter... (4, Interesting)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330148)

...with 5C, HDCP, and the Broadcast Flag, the only way we'll end up being allowed to record any digital broadcast legally will be with analog equipment anyway. And maybe that won't even be legal.

Re:It doesn't much matter... (3, Insightful)

philipdl71 (160261) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330280)

One has to wonder if we would be dealing with the broadcast flag and all that other crap if the government would simply let HDTV develop on it's own.

Computer companies have no problem combining forces and devising standards. Why not let the broadcasters do the same?

Re:It doesn't much matter... (2, Insightful)

GTRacer (234395) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330378)

Ummm, I always figured it WAS the broadcasters asking Congress for federal protection. Since they're the "content" producers, they're the ones with the vested interest. See RIAA vs. anybody with an MP3 player, etc.

GTRacer
- Whatever happened to KISS?

Re:It doesn't much matter... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10330625)

We could beat the government into submission on this issue:

Moe: Oh, you mean like the time Barney beat up George Bush.
Homer: Barney? That was me! [bitter] And I'd do it again...
Charlie: Why stop there, Homer? My militia has a secret plan to beat up all
sorts of government officials! That'll teach them to drag their feet
on high definition TV!
[The goons bust in.]
Johnson: You're under arrest for conspiracy!
[they drag him out.]
Moe: How did they finger Charlie? Somebody must've ratted him out!
Homer: Oh, that's ridiculous, Moe. End transmission.
-- "The Trouble With Trillions"

Two words (1)

qwertyatwork (668720) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330421)

Custom pvr [mythtv.org]

Re:It doesn't much matter... (2, Interesting)

Subgenius (95662) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330580)

Of course, if you already have any of ATI's current RADEON TV cards, the packed-in software already supports a broadcast flag/'no record for you' feature. I've had the system stop recording ANALOG input content several times (self-produced on old analog 1" equipment, and I ain't talking abour pr0n).

baffling, can anyone explain? (4, Insightful)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330157)

It's baffling to me how the "public airwaves" (read: any frequency band at all) can be permanently "sold" to anything. It should all be rented from the public. The companies should have to pay a rental tax, that gets used to discount individual income taxes. That's paying for something that belongs to the PUBLIC!

Re:baffling, can anyone explain? (5, Informative)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330212)

They aren't permanently sold, they're licensed. The FCC is taking back VHF and UHF, after all. They couldn't do that if they were "owned" like property.

And they do pay licensing fees, application fees, they pay a huge fee to petition the FCC to increase their broadcast power and range, for instance.

Re:baffling, can anyone explain? (1)

Temfate (753891) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330250)

Accept for one problem. We raise the costs to the broadcasters, they'll raise the costs to the viewers. Either the cost of cable and sat will go up, or the cost of advertisments will go up and thus the cost of the items we buy. It'll all screw us in the end. At least we'd have rights to force better service though.

Re:baffling, can anyone explain? (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330384)

Let's not forget broadcast != cable.

Re:baffling, can anyone explain? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10330375)

The beauty of 'the system'. Its wonderful how to corporate America has turned the radio into the worthless crap that it is. Although it is 'ours' LPFM is the closest thing the average person can get to having a station and even that requires you be a 501.3c, have at least a couple thousand dollars for a certified broadcasting studio, AND have applied in the extremly tiny window provided for us a few years back. And really who applied for this option when it happened? Fucking religious groups all across the country who already have a very tiny portion of the spectrum to their incoherent babbling. Meanwhile, ClearChannel owns the rest. Thanks guys. A serious movement needs to occur to take back our airwaves, [takebackthemedia.com] topple the power wielded over us by the FCC. [com.com]

This is also why media conglomerates want to make cable and satellite your primary avenue for enterntainment. Since they own those avenues. Own and control. I will never buy a satellite dish and i will never buy cable. I dont need them and i dont want them. KILL YOUR TV. Next step after this, the internet...

Re:baffling, can anyone explain? (1)

cryptochrome (303529) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330530)

The only problem with renting, is the sort of business maneuvering where the big companies crowd out the little ones by buying up all the spectrum.

The way I figure, if the FCC/stations would just drop the false pretense that airwave broadcasters are serving the public good by carrying "news", this wouldn't be an issue. Hell, at this point I would say to ditch licensing of VHF/UHF spectrum for TV ENTIRELY. It can be put to better use. Cable and Satellite have far better selections, and radio is far more widespread. If they must, they can set aside a narrow band of spectrum for public access and local content.

digital broadcasts (4, Interesting)

alatesystems (51331) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330158)

I can't even get digital broadcasts of some of the major networks in my market [twcablesport.com] because the stupid cable company won't negotiate a contract with all of them. The only major network that I get that is digital is ABC.

I do love my digital techtv though. That is the only digital channel that I watch. I wish fox and comedy central were digital because those are the other two channels that I watch most often.

Chris

Re:digital broadcasts (0, Offtopic)

idesofmarch (730937) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330404)

Why watch TV at all? Just play with your damn free Dell PC all day, you pyramid-scheme-promoting hack.

Re:digital broadcasts (2, Informative)

DHR (68430) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330423)

Get a HD decoder card, and put an antenna up then.

Re:digital broadcasts (1)

Kevin Burtch (13372) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330484)


Yeah, too bad TechTV went down the toilet after the buyout.
G4TechTV seems to be all-gamerz - all-the-time. They dumped nearly every show I ever watched on that channel.
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against gamerz, I love playing UT or bzflag every once in a while, but I'm not the kind of person who lives for it, nor am I the kind of person who wants to watch others play games... that's even less exciting than watching other people play sports (rather than actually playing them).

If the boneheads running the networks had any brains at all, they would have MOVED the gamer-dood shows from TechTV to G4 and added more tech-content to TechTV.
Start with 2 channels, end up with 2 _better_ and more content-focused channels.

I am really hoping the Discovery/TLC guys make a new high-tech channel to fill this void. Something between the old TechTV and the Research Channel would be perfect. Discovery-Geek has a nice ring to it (just kidding).

Best. Adverts. Ever. (-1, Offtopic)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330166)

Best Deals: United States
Best Deals: Politics

Political comment from a keyword matching algorithm. Classic.

Isn't he trying to make it come sooner? (1, Funny)

underpar (792569) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330170)

Current law only requires broadcasters to give up their current airwaves by 2007, or when 85 percent of the nation can receive the new digital signals, whichever comes later. Most predict that could take a decade or more.

2009 is better, right?

Keep your voice down! (1)

chattycathy (801106) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330553)

"Current law only requires broadcasters to give up their current airwaves by 2007, or when 85 percent of the nation can receive the new digital signals, whichever comes later. Most predict that could take a decade or more. "

"McCain's measure would require broadcasters to air only digital television signals by 2009"

shh.. /. never posts an innaccurate story.

Sigh. (4, Insightful)

Kufat (563166) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330177)

First of all, digital TV isn't necessarily HDTV. 480i digital broadcasts are perfectly possible. In addition, HDTV broadcasts don't have to be 16:9, although they frequently are. It's also worth remembering that the analog to digital spectrum change only applies to over the air broadcasts; cable companies can do as they wish, and pretty much all satellite broadcasts have been digital for a while now.

Re:Sigh. (4, Informative)

entrager (567758) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330435)

Actually, HDTV is 16:9 by definition. Look at the spec for 720p and 1080i, it's all 16:9. However, some channels actually do broadcast their HDTV signals with black bars on the sides. The signal is still 16:9, but the black bars are part of the signal. The Denver NBC affiliate did this with their news broadcast until not too long ago when they actually got all HD equipment. Now not only is the news all HD and 16:9, their freakin' traffic copter uses HD. They claim to be the only station in the country with a HD camera on their chopper. Wow... I got off on a tangent.

Re:Sigh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10330632)

Actually, I'm pretty sure in order to truely be called "HDTV" a broadcast must be at least 720i @ 16:9. 480p 4:3 is just DTV--like the satelite signals.

Obvious compromise (1, Funny)

Bobo_The_Boinger (306158) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330183)

The obvious solution is for analog and digital to meet in the middle, have black bars around all sides of both TVs! And then we also have room for the next big advance after digital. :)

Re:Obvious compromise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10330289)

There is another option that is not that far fetched: No borders. Depending on the format of the show, either 4:3 TVs don't show the sides of the image or 16:9 TVs don't show the top and bottom of the picture. Most of the time the interesting bits are in the middle of the picture so they don't get cut off either way. DVD players can do this for 16:9 movies on 4:3 screens: it's called "pan & scan".

Re:Obvious compromise (1)

Hooded One (684008) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330557)

Wow. Pan & Scan is the worst invention ever, and your idea is even worse. At least with P&S they well... pan and scan, to give the "best" part of the image most of the time. Well, they probably get lazy, but they usually don't let something crucial on the side of the screen get left out. But you've outshone them with your brilliance. Why even bother checking what you're cropping? Cut it out anyway!

Re:Obvious compromise (1)

entrager (567758) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330466)

The funny thing, that actually happens on my 4:3 HDTV. When watching HDTV content, the TV adds black bars on the top and bottom. But some of the stuff that's broadcast in HD has black bars on the sides of 4:3 content (most commercials). So when watching this stuff I actually have a black border all the way around.

Here's a thought... (2)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330193)

Why worry about it?

We already use Satellite and land lines for digital broadcasts. Why do we need to convert the regular airwaves?

Re:Here's a thought... (2, Informative)

Control Group (105494) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330223)

To free up bandwidth. Analog TV is a bandwidth hog in comparison to digital signals. We could cram a huge number of other services in the spectrum occupied by analog television broadcasts today.

Government should not support this (4, Insightful)

1000101 (584896) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330204)

""Consumers who rely on over-the-air television, particularly those of limited economic means, should be assisted," according to the draft obtained by Reuters."


TV isn't a right. TV is for entertainment and education, both of which you can get elsewhere. The government assisting people with television upgrades is such a huge waste of money. If you can't afford a television upgrade yourself, then you have a few years to start saving.

Re:Government should not support this (2, Interesting)

Control Group (105494) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330286)

I agree with the principle you're espousing, but it's impractical. If we intend to ever free spectrum by eliminating analog TV signals, something will have to be done to appease those who are content with the current situation. If, suddenly, 15% (a number I'm pulling out of a hat, admittedly) of the population are by law cut off from their television fix, the uproar would be immense enough to kill the whole plan.

I am, in general, against government handouts of any kind. This is one, however, that's in the interests of the public good. Hopefully, the money spent on assisting analog-to-digital upgrades (digital-to-analog downgrades, depending on your POV) could be recouped by selling off the spectrum freed up by shutting off analog TV broadcasts.

Re:Government should not support this (5, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330304)

TV is also a primary source of information in the event of a natural disaster, or even something as mundane as knowing which schools are closed if it snows.

Though, I agree it isn't a right. And American government isn't supposed to be the type of government that buys you the stuff you can't afford.

A digital tuner with analog out could be produced quite cheaply.

Hell, it's basically a DVD player without all the (relatively expensive) DVD mechanisms, with a slightly fancier decoding engine. If I can get a cheap DVD player for around 50 bucks, I would expect a DTV tuner to cost less than that.

Once a good cheap DTV to Analog chip hits mass production, the market will flood with cheap devices, and people will start to switch on their own. But not until then.

Like healthcare (0, Flamebait)

MacFury (659201) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330444)

And American government isn't supposed to be the type of government that buys you the stuff you can't afford...

Like healthcare? Education, etc? :-)

Re:Government should not support this (1)

prefect42 (141309) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330506)

What do you think the sub 40 quid digiboxes are in the UK? It's not like everyone's gone out and bought a new tv...

It was government's idea! (2, Insightful)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330307)

TV isn't a right. TV is for entertainment and education, both of which you can get elsewhere. The government assisting people with television upgrades is such a huge waste of money. If you can't afford a television upgrade yourself, then you have a few years to start saving.

It's the fscking government that's forcing the broadcasters to switch! It wasn't their idea.

So yeah, if it's so much in society's common interest to force this new format, maybe society should pay the bleepin' costs, too.

Re:Government should not support this (1)

theMerovingian (722983) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330312)


No kidding, if you can't afford a new TV you should be watching less of it anyway. That would suck to be spending tax money on cruft like that at a time of record deficits.

Re:Government should not support this (1)

n9uxu8 (729360) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330335)

Amen. While digital and HD are very nifty innovations, I would prefer that the adoption be left up to the incessant US need to keep up with the Jones'. Why on earth are we allowing politicians to mandate television broadcast methodology?!? Shouldn't they be spending their time trying to figure out how to tax public O2?

Dave

If you need a gmail invite, email me at n9uxu at yahoo dot com

Re:Government should not support this (1)

mikesmind (689651) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330359)

I think our government views TV as a right. Why else would prison inmates get it?

Re:Government should not support this (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330639)

It's a priveledge given them to encourage good behaviour.

They'd rather have all those cons zoned out watching Joe Millionaire than to have them sharpening shivs or "circling the wagons" around the latest pasty white computer hacker who wrote a really neato VBScript worm.

Re:Government should not support this (2, Insightful)

Mateito (746185) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330395)

TV is for entertainment and education,

No. TV is about control... taking the role traditionally held by the village priest/medicine woman/witchdoctor in providing the "norms" by which a society must live.

Before you pull the tin-foil hat over my ears, think about what would happen without TV:

  • People would be forced to think for themselves or find alternative methods of moral guidance. Church congregations of all religions and denominations would increase.
  • Consumer spending would decrease with the decreased exposure to advertising.
  • People would start talking to each other more. This may mean finally discovering that they don't actually like their spouses anymore, resulting in an increased divorce rate. Or, thinking positively, that couples would take the time to resolve problems.
  • Ok, so this is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but whether you agree with him or not, why is it that Michael Moore gets condemned for bias, whereas you hardly ever hear a voice raised against Fox?

Re:Government should not support this (1)

787style (816008) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330409)

Consumers with limited economic means have bigger problems than the quality of the TV transmissions. I see this similar to the transition from leaded to unleaded gas. People with limited economic means eventually got around to upgrading to an unleaded car, once they no longer could get leaded gas.

Re:Government should not support this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10330458)

"Consumers who rely on over-the-air television"

What about the large portion of us who livein rural areas where the cable company just doesn't have any wire run?

just because you are some city dwelling metrosexual who thinks the world revolves around Manhattan does not mean the rest of us share your desire to pretend to be hip and cultered by living in an urban setting.

Who provides converters for the proles? (1)

charleste (537078) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330209)

In the end, tax money will be used to provide or subsidize those who cannot afford a digital converter with one. IMHO this is an issue that should be voted on by the proles, not discussed (read: spending even more of my tax dollars) ad nauseum in congress, et. al.

Re:Who provides converters for the proles? (1)

alex_ware (783764) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330269)

In england their is a thing called freeview it is £50 a box [read $75] if America used it aswell it would only get cheaper and I would be able to build a freeview PVR.

Re:Who provides converters for the proles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10330407)

The proles would be better off not watching TV.

It might give them enough time to think about stuff, and realize how fucked they are getting.

Choices? (1)

syntap (242090) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330232)

so consumers have a choice -- between analog (black borders on the sides of their digital TVs) and digital (black borders on the top and bottom of their analog TV)

Oh geez, someone who hasn't watched a show in high definition must have written this... watching television in better resolution than DVD is a much different experience than black bar placement.

The Real Question (3, Interesting)

stretch0611 (603238) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330235)

Who wants to buy a HD-TV if the only thing on the air is "reality" shows? Also, who wants to be force-fed a DRM flag for digital tv?

I currently own a nice 36" tv with decent resolution(even though it is analog). Personally, I have no compelling reason to shell out my hard earned cash on a HD-TV.

Re:The Real Question (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330362)

I currently own a nice 36" tv with decent resolution(even though it is analog). Personally, I have no compelling reason to shell out my hard earned cash on a HD-TV.

Preach it, brother. Maybe this switch will finally get us out of watching TV altogether (my family watches very little as it is).

Re:The Real Question (1)

DHR (68430) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330500)

Especially since none of the reality shows are actually filmed in HD.

If it ain't broke... (2, Insightful)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330264)

First off I'm clueless, so someone 'splain it to me...

Why not let the market decide what it can support instead of forcing an upgrade on everyone?

Re:If it ain't broke... (4, Insightful)

Control Group (105494) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330328)

Because corporations always (well, with very few exceptions) choose short-term profit over long-term. Freeing up the bandwidth is the sort of thing which will have benefits in terms of being able to do things we haven't been able to do before - but we don't know yet what those things are. Hence, no corporation in its right mind will sacrifice current revenue streams (analog broadcasts) for future potential (digital broadcasts).

Much like the internet itself: without government funding, the internet would never have happened. All the profits that are made off its existence now are based on services that couldn't even be conceived of until the medium to support them existed.

Re:If it ain't broke... (1)

Megaweapon (25185) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330329)

"Why not let the market decide what it can support instead of forcing an upgrade on everyone?"

Two words: Republicans. Democrats.

Corporate welfare (2, Insightful)

Tangurena (576827) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330483)

2 Reasons:
  • Subsidise the TV manufacturers. Not that there are any domestic manufacturers left, due to product dumping in the 70s and 80s.
  • Screw the public by overturning the Betamax ruling by technical means.
The movie industry wants to make it hard to impossible for you to copy TV shows, impossible to share recordings between different playback units in your own house (the p2p issue is baloney). Last time they tried this was with DivX, where the decryption keys to the discs were tied to your playback unit: no sharing discs between the living room and the bedroom, you pirate, you! And if your player broke, well, you get to buy all the movies in your collection all over again.

Digital != black borders (5, Informative)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330277)

between analog (black borders on the sides of their digital TVs) and digital (black borders on the top and bottom of their analog TV)

Digital versus analog is NOT the same as aspect ratio. The two concepts have little, if anything, to do with one another.

If your television screen's aspect ratio matches the aspect ratio of the program being broadcast, you will have no black bars. If the two do not match, you will have black bars, whether or not the broadcast is in an analog or digital form. I've got a Sony 36" HD set at home that has a 4:3 aspect ratio screen - no black bars when watching analog TV (or 4:3 digital broadcasts such as Fox).

Side rant: if you watch NBC digital, you get #(*&^%# annoying GREY bars on the sides. On dimly lit shows, those grey bars are much brighter than anything else in the room - annoying beyond belief.

Re:Digital != black borders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10330526)

Both digital and analog broadcasts can be either 4:3 or 16:9. It has nothing to do with the method of signal delivery. Aspect ratio is a component of resolution, such as 480i and 1080i. You can have a high definition broadcast sent over either analog or digital, and you can have a standard definition broadcast delivered the same ways. if a show is recorded in 4:3 then displayed at 16:9 (or vice versa), that is when you get black bars.

hdtv, football..hurrry the hell up (1)

toolshed7 (756496) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330283)

I wish they would hurry the hell up. After watching the NFL games last year. I cannot imagine watching any sporting event not in HDTV.

Hurry the hell up, I switched to XM because of regular radio bullshit. Analog tv signals is more or less just crap. If you have never seen it, goto a HDTV on sunday and watch a football game. Man, I love sundays..beer, chips, and football. Good stuff.

I'm at a loss here. (2, Informative)

phaetonic (621542) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330288)

McCain's reason to help foot the bill to the tune of $1 billion is : "The nation cannot risk the further loss of life due to public safety agencies' first responders' inability to communicate effectively in the event of another terrorist act or national crisis," the draft legislation said.

Currently, my digital cable box gets both analog and digital signals. If I put the HD channel on by accident, I can hear audio but see no video. Therefore, people who can't afford a digital TV in 2009 can keep their analog TV and leave it tuned to the one analog channel for emergencies until they can afford a digital tv.

I think you misinterpret (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10330475)

I thought that the public benefit to the "first responders" is not in the public getting anything in their homes. It is the benefit that the responders will get by being able to use the newly freed spectrum that analog TV used to occupy.

Re:I'm at a loss here. (1)

Mariner28 (814350) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330518)

You might be a bit confused here. "Public safety agencies' first responders' inability to communicate...in the event of...crisis" refers to their ability to communicate with each other - that is, fire departments can communicate with police, national guard, FEMA, etc - using the same radio gear in the same area of spectrum. It is NOT a super kind of Emergency Broadcast System for the public to listen to. Right now, different frequencies are allocated to each agency, and their radio gear cannot communicate with other agencies. What I don't hear (unless I missed it!) is who's gonna pay for all those agencies to buy new radio gear that will USE the VHF spectrum vacated by the TV broadcasters?

Re:I'm at a loss here. (1)

Ryan C. (159039) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330622)

Two things:

One, it's your digital cable box they're talking about having to foot the bill for (though it would be a digital off-the-air box). That's what the 1 billion is for. They want the ability to break in to "Who Wants to Marry my Million Dogs" with the emergency broadcast since that's where folks will be tuned, not the mandated emergency channel.

Two, a "high def" channel can switch to a lower resolution MPEG program stream at any time if it wants to.

Again, digital has nothing to do with HD. You can have HD analog (had it for years in Japan) and you can have standard def. digital (most digital channels still are SD).

-Ryan C.

Nice Pun (4, Funny)

McComas (398515) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330305)

Oh Slashdot. That is terrible. Using the word 'dithering' [webopedia.com] in a headline about television standards technology. Shame on you. Punnery is the lowest humor.

Re:Nice Pun (2, Funny)

I confirm I'm not a (720413) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330472)

Punnery is the lowest humor.

Yeah, right. I think you'll find it's sarcasm.

;)

Re:Nice Pun (3, Funny)

McComas (398515) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330512)

Well met. I think you will find that, without the slightest shred of doubt, in every conceivable universe and in every way you can possibly consider, over-blown exaggeration is the lowest form of humor.

Black borders? (0, Redundant)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330315)

There's a lot more to it than black borders ... and why does the government get to tax the airwaves? It's not like they created them.

Re:Black borders? (1)

pivo (11957) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330349)

and why does the government get to tax the airwaves?

Because we let them

Really (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10330334)

Poster:

What the hell?

Make sense of no english can you?

I like to dither (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10330343)

with my digital anus (mod me up, funny)

Why Bother? (4, Insightful)

Tangurena (576827) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330344)

Digital TV does not solve any problem that we as consumers have. Digital TV does not automagically render TV shows into something worth watching. The only features that appear to be worth pushing this technology, are the ones that only Hollywood wants: to overturn Betamax. I didn't want the V-chip (and despite the promises of that technology, it still did not prevent the Janet Jackson incident). And I don't want this dorky new tech. Is Never Twice the Same Color (NTSC) an ancient technology? Yes, and so are books.

What can digital tv show that analog can't? I'm sure that you can come up with all sorts of trivial features, but it doesn't solve a problem that I have. Therefore there is no reason for me to go out and piss thousands of dollars down the drain on some new boob tube.

I think it is painfully clear that I am not alone in rejecting digital tv: the market isn't buying it. Corporate welfare to prop up the TV manufacturers (by subsidizing them) is a little late and quite misguided. As long as there is a difference in price between a digital tv and an analog one, price will win every time.

Bad idea to rent bandwidth (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330387)

If you rent bandwidth, then its an easy thing to alternative squelch speech by making the 'rental' fee far to high, unless you are one of the big media giants..

No, not a good idea at all...

Re:Bad idea to rent bandwidth ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10330626)

Lets unregulate it and get a constant stream
v1agra commercials broadcast from every street corner.

Don't knock analog (5, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330396)

The only TV I watch is by time-shifting. At least I can time-shift analog. I'm certainly in no hurry to trade in the ability to timeshift for the priveledge of having to pay several times as much for a set whose primary design feature is its ability to keep me from recording broadcast programs.

The old analog set works, and I'm not planning to replace it.

Digital TV in flyover country (5, Interesting)

MadHungarian1917 (661496) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330403)

For better or worse TV is the primary information channel for most of the population and digital modulation schemes are simply not appropriate in many rural areas. Don't watch much TV anymore but I can receive the analog broadcasts from the nearest major market ~100 miles away with reasonable quality.

I do have a digital tuner and the digital broadcasts don't make the trip. I can pick up 1 station in a 30 mile radius
I do have a Satellite for the family - ie h*ll will freeze over before I give Comcast a single dime but Digital is a great idea for the metro NY/LA markets but it just doesnt cut it for the rest of the country.

BTW the reason NTSC uses its odd phase modulation scheme for color was to ensure backwards compatibility with the existing B&W sets.

This scheme is just a moneygrab by the Gov't because even Big Media doesn't want Digital because there is nothing in it for them either. ie spend millions of dollars to reequip the TV studio to broadcast the same stuff to fewer advertising viewers.

Sounds like a great deal to me Sign us up!

PS - Sorry for the blank posts not enough coffee

call me crazy (1, Flamebait)

killua (604159) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330443)

While i agree that some issue's need to be forced, economics can usually handle most issues. If it is profitable for television broadcasters to switch to digital, then they would. So why force the issue?

The funny thing is... (0, Troll)

T3kno (51315) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330460)

If we ran our households like the Fed runs itself our TV's would be one large seamless black border. Along with our lights, microwaves, computers, et al.

Taxes and DRM (5, Insightful)

DownWithTheMan (797237) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330505)

From my understanding Japan has just recently (this year) made the change to digital TV. What I've read and heard though tells me consumers are not too happy with the DRM restrictions that have been put in place with the broadcast flags. Japan, none to happy with DRM [engadget.com] The EFF has also released some docs though on how to make a homebrew digital DVR that doesn't respond to the broadcast flags and can still record the digital streams. EFF.org [eff.org] But so not only would we be taxed for the whole thing twice as has been previously stated, but the content that we would be forced to pay for would be moderated and controlled as well for what we can do with it. Frankly I think the whole U.S. has lost it's mind. What the government may have thought would help to ignite digital innovation, has instead helped to block end users in again and support the white collar executives instead. So remember kids when you go to vote this November, Congress has around a 90% incumbency rate...

Make borders educational (3, Funny)

FerretFrottage (714136) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330556)

Since the US educational system [k-12] is all about memorizing and less about how to think and apply knowledge these days, and with kids watching so much tv, us the border(s) for education. You can put the multiplication tables on one side, state information on the top border, lunch ads on the other side, and critical thinking at the bottom [border].

Better yet, put Canada on the top border, Mexico on the bottom border, and the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans on the left and right respectively.

The "Economically Disadvantaged" Red Herring (4, Insightful)

ausoleil (322752) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330582)

I feel so sorry for the poor -- they won't be able to receive TV after the analog signals are no longer on the air. Right. Drive through the poorest part of West Virginia and count the DirecTV dishes. Better be able to count high -- real high.

Even though it is another country, I vividly remember a bus trip through the Yucatan in Mexico. Those people are poor -- their houses were often nothing more than mud and straw, and they had nothing. Nothing, that is, except for the ubiquitous satellite dish.

Most of the country already receives it's television through digital means -- be it cable or sattelite, you almost always end up going through "a TV box" to get your programs. While it is not 85% (yet) it is most. Thus, the market has already spoken for those calling for it to do so.

HDTV is making inroads, and is quickly reaching critical mass. Most all major network programming is in HDTV, and this year, finally Fox has joined the fray. Given a few years, it is reasonable to assume that HDTV will be the defacto standard. In my town (Ralwigh NC) we get 19 HD channels on cable. Four OTA. Again, the market is speaking.

The only ones left out are the Luddites who do not want to replace their gear and want to receive their signal over the air. And since they are in the minority, why are we catering to them? Why not set a date and only mandate that a D->A converter be available for sale?

Having a television is not an entitlement, after all. If everyone else can have their taxes reduced by the government gaining income from spectrum lease, the quicker the better. Then, some of the money we all now send to Washington could be spent in our communities and spur on the economy of those areas.

Making broadcasters pay amounts to a tax on viewer (1)

Performer Guy (69820) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330620)

Any fees for the spectrum will be passed on to viewers, revenues from alternative licensees are not the only reason for freeing up the valuable high bandwidth spectrum.

As for the black borders, that's an aspect ration issue and anamorphic broadcasts happen in analog today to get 16:9 instead of 4:3, not really the issue here but changing the default aspect ratio is not tied to digital broadcasting.

Headline Should Read: (0, Offtopic)

se2schul (667721) | more than 10 years ago | (#10330629)

US Still Dithering Over Analog-Digital TV Conversion AND Imperial-Metric conversion.
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