My note to the FCC re HDTV

I was contacted by the FCC and asked for any ideas I might have about accelerating the transition from analog to digital TV. Since anything I write to the FCC is on the public record anyway,I thought I would share it here…. I haven’t talked much about HDTV in this blog, and its about time I started!

I do have a solution for the FCC for the transition to HD and gettingback theTV broadcast spectrumthat is cheaper, far simpler, and would accelerate the give back faster then anything so far proposed, and I’m sure no one has thought of it.

More than 70% of homes already have Digital TV monitors. They are called PC monitors. All have RGB input, and 100% of them work with HD programming as well as digital programming and with conversion analog programs. CRT based models sell for under 200 bucks now, and can be had for 99 bucks in some cases. Companies are dumping them to make room for LCD.

The only challenge would be getting ATSC tuners to attach to them.

ATSC, stand-alone tuners can be purchased for $399 full retail today. That’s unit 1. You can get the price down quickly under 100 bucks no sweat. Or you can play off cable vs. satellite and offer RGB converters for 100 bucks or less to connect to the back of Set Top Boxes that don’t already have them.

So you can have the spectrum auction, borrow against the money to buy down the cost of the tuners, place the tuners and adapters in the marketplace, and away we go. More importantly, you also have the political capital that allows this effort to dovetail with placing computers and conquering the digital divide

Of course the NAB will freak out, saying that people will hate losing their analog TVs, however that can be dealt with. Put an SVHS output in the new tuner and you could watch the digital programming through a 49 dollar VCR, DVD or on a TV that supported SVHS, and with a little bit of work, you could do the same with composite output.

Make sense?

60 thoughts on “My note to the FCC re HDTV

  1. Whats the big push for DTV. I keep hearing some bs story about how DTV will be better and make available frequencies for emergency and goverment. I mean the the 3 trillion dolars the goverment receives in taxation isn’t enough? In my opinion this has everything to do with conttolling our ability to watch and record what we want.

    Comment by drew -

  2. So far they are succedding. The US Congress and the FCC do their bidding in all its detail. A broadcaster litterally laughed at me when I suggested that FCC Media director Ken Ferree’s suggestion of 2009 was a possibility. 2020 was the nearest possibility this broadaster suggested.

    Comment by wow powerleveling -

  3. If you were to tell these people they now need to purchase a tuner that will allow them to be able to keep the programming they are *already* getting, it will probably be met with a lot of resistance, with both the ‘complications’ and another point I’ll get into later- cost.

    Comment by runescape money -

  4. HDTV has been AWESOME! I can’t wait for even more channels to be added. I can’t believe there are sooo many people out there no taking advantage of this!

    Keith
    http://www.eHDMI.com

    Comment by Keith -

  5. After purchasing an HDTV two weeks ago, I can say without hesitation, the picture is perfect. The clarity is amazing on HDTV channels. It is worth the investment.

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    Comment by international phone card -

  8. I think you, the FCC, and Congress are not in touch with reality. No one who has a perfectly good analog TV is going to spend what in many cases is more than the cost of the TV to add an external ATSC tuner. This is even more true if the TV has been purchased in the last 5 years. There are still thousands of analog TVs being sold that could be useless in 1 to 2 years and they contain NO WARNING to the poor buyers.

    It really comes down to Congress and the FCC not wanting to handle the problem logically. If they wanted to transition to HDTV by 2005 then all new TV should have had ATSC tuners for the last 10 years. Since they are still allowing analog sets to be sold up to the present time and will allow them even next year, then the transistion should not take place until the sets sold in 2006 have reached their natural end of life which is at least 10 years and probably 20 years. The only other fair solution would be to have the manufacturers who have sold TV that they new would be obsolete to an unsuspecting public either replace them with new HDTV models or supply ATSC tuners at no cost to the customers.

    I am personally in the situation of either having to buy a new analog TV which may be useless in 1 to 2 years or do without a TV for the next 2 years since I need a 19 inch and there are no 19 inch TVs with an ATSC tuner that I have found.

    It is time for the people to put there foot down and tell the people in Congress and the FCC that they messed this transistion up royally and they should just bite the bullet and delay the transistion for 10 to 20 years while the price of ATSC sets come down and the installed analog TVs fail and are naturally replaced.

    Comment by Kenneth Blanchard -

  9. That’s really good idea

    Comment by jack kon -

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  13. I’ve been using my wide 17″ computer screen to watch hdtv. I am still waiting to buy a promer hdtv to my livingroom. The cost of HD equipment will go down soon, right now is still a bit to steep for me.

    Comment by hdtv receiver -

  14. A few details here from an engineer who owns both PCs and terrestrial HDTV. Using a PC monitor for HD is not a very satisfying answer for this reason: the PC monitor is optimized for reading text, not for video motion. Yes, its true that you have amazing resolution, but the phosphors and electronics in your monitor have sufficient lag that moving objects will have a ghost trailing behind them. PC monitors also lack sufficient dynamic range to present a useful black level for movie viewing.

    Of course, it will work. It just isn’t as satisfying as a good HD setup where the viewer feels that they are looking through a window.

    Comment by Dr C -

  15. I’ll try to present this in bullet points:

    1) There is nothing wrong with normal tv. The reason there’s not a bigger push for HDTV penetration is because an overwhelming majority of people don’t care about the increased resolution, especially at its current price point.

    2) Anyone who cares about tv watching, even a little, has cable/satellite anyway. The only people I know without cable are intellectuals who voluntarily go without, or college students on a shoestring budget. Many Cable/Satellite providers sell HDTV subscriptions at reasonable price points and will achieve greater penetration by themselves, without more FCC intervention.

    3. Since when is it the federal government’s job to get involved in what resolution we watch our football games in? There’s a reason the free market exists, get the FCC and their grubby little fingers out!

    4. Most people don’t want new technology if it’s going to be costly, difficult to understand, annoying when it doesn’t work (i.e. stretched faces, black bars), and generally unproven in terms of return on investment. Give me a system that works well when you plug it in, and you have something you can sell.

    Really, my response to the FCC would be to fire half their staff, slice their budget in twain, and to quit making up fake work to annoy us all with. Now there’s some honesty in government!

    Comment by Aaron G. -

  16. I believe that additional HD availability will spur its growth.

    In my case, a few of my local networks are broadcasting low power low res DTV, but none but PBS are broadcasting HD.

    A proposed solution is to let cable and/or satellite companies transmit distant networks in HD where local HD isn’t available but the NAB on behalf of local affiliates don’t like it because of loss in advertising revenue.

    How about a system where subscribers pay for the distant feed and a portion of that fee is passed to the local affiliate to offset the loss in ad revenue?

    A central clearinghouse would have to be developed to track, collect, and disburse funds, but that wouldn’t be a terribly significant exercise.

    Comment by John Fabrega -

  17. Both these will fail and the Chinese will flood the market with $40 HD-DVD players using VP6 compression which only charges the Chinese $2 one time on the player and nothing per disk.

    Comment by Bob Miller -

  18. I am curious about your thoughts about the war between the two groups vying for the prototype of the new HD-DVD players. I am hoping this won’t turn out to be another VHS vs. BETAMAX feud. Who ends up suffering? The consumer, of course. Let these companies end their feuding, and give us ONE standard for high definition DVD players. I want to see the best movies at home in hi def! I think once this happens, consumers will be buying HDTV left and right.

    Comment by dave -

  19. Problems with the idea:
    – most existing PC monitors out there have a 4:3 aspect ratio, not the HD 16:9
    – home PCs are typically situated on a small desk shoved out of the way – nowhere near, typically, the living/family room
    – most home PCs do not have adequate speakers
    – PCs take a long time to boot and most people don’t leave them on 24×7 for various good reasons – no one wants to wait 4 minutes for a PC to boot and settle before watching TV
    – Your average home PC is nowhere even close to the reliability of a TV
    – controlling a PC with a remote control, while doable, is not for the technically challenged.

    There are a multitude of other PC-related technical problems with your idea. Basically, while a PC is very much a general purpose device and *can* do the function of many consumer devices, the vast majority of people would be much happier with a dedicated consumer electronics component.

    Comment by Jezebel -

  20. Beyond stuipd, I work with embedded systems all day long and the only person who would watch TV on a monitor is a nerd. If your going to build a converter its just as easy to convert the output a reformated video signal. How do you think satilight systems work now ? duh. The problem has nothing to do with the end user, it has everthing to do with braodcast equiptment at the front end. Mark you would be better off trying to find a new coaching staff, Don and his son are just not capable of taking your team to the next level and you have too many gaurds that like to shoot too quickly. Fix these two things and maybe next year at this time you will be worrying about basketball and not how to convert old ugly computer hardware into somebody’s home theater system.

    Comment by Jim Loundagin -

  21. I don’t like being nickel and dimed to death.

    In order for me to get HDTV, I have to shell out an extra $5 a month for a HDTV-compatible digital cable box.

    HDTV was supposed to bring higher quality video to the consumer. Instead it is just another way for TW, Comcast, etc to make a few extra bucks.

    Why is it everytime there is an innovation the only way to access it is to pay an extra $4-$10/month, like video on my Sprint PCS phone?

    I’m tapped out. I’m not adding $3.95 per month for call waiting/caller ID, and extra $7.95 for voicemail on my home phone and extra $2.00 for NBATV…

    Comment by Scott -

  22. Mark,

    I held off buying a new TV for years because I didn’t want to invest in an old technology. HDTV has gone virtually nowhere and the sets are too expensive. I finally caved and bought a new non-HDTV TV a few months ago.

    At this point, I honestly don’t care about HDTV and see it as a huge waste of money. Besides, due to the Internet, I almost never watch TV now.

    Comment by William -

  23. Because of the current problems for some folks in the economy, they’re not going to want to replace their NTSC sets at some multiple of $100. So, your ATSC tuner box is a good option, I’d just add a couple of ideas:

    1. Get the price down to $49.99, Joe MiddleClass and JoeUpperLowerClass can rationalize that when compared to a an HD TV.

    2. Have the tuner output S-Video (is that what you refer to as SVHS), component, and 75ohm coax output (for folks whose TV is really “old”). Down-conversion shouldn’t be overly difficult.

    3. Here’s the kicker – instead of its own remote, make its IR receiver a learning remote which learns the commands from the customer’s TV remote – “taking over” the function if possible. Some TVs came with a wire that had an IR transmitter you taped over the VCR IR receiver so the TV could control the recording process (see RCA with their program guide). Use the same technique to have the ATSC tuner take over the TV function but damnit, engineer the attachment in a better way than just making it sticky. Mine kept falling off. An L-shaped piece of plastic which slid under the TV amd held the IR transmitter in front of the receiver would be better. However it’s done, the idea is not to add one more remote or one more sales chance for universal-remote manufacturers, just make it work for the guy in the easy chair.

    Comment by Tim Hare -

  24. Why not include a broadband modem with digital TVs? Most people who steal cable connections just use a splitter from their cable modem to their tv set anyways.
    This could be an all in one type deal. You could have internet,interactive TV, gaming networks, etc…

    Comment by dan -

  25. What do you have to do to get on the FCC shortlist? Did they say “hi, this is mike powell from the FCC, and we’re wondering if you have any ideas about transitioning the general public to HDTV?”

    Or was it more like:

    “Hi Mark! This is mike down at the FCC. How’s it going? Not bad. Hey, I was thinking about HDTV the other day, and I thought of you.”

    Or was it more like:

    “Dude, what’s happening? Thinking about HDTV? Huh? No prob, I’ll wait – and tell W I said hi!”

    Comment by manny veloso -

  26. Believe it or not there are still folks that do not know that this change is coming. They’re not technology gurus obviously but they need to know. The FCC needs to inform US citizens of this change in very simple terms and graphics. You know, the type that is used on McDonald’s cash registers and the type of communications presented to executives of major corporations. Something that could be easily understood and also give them warm fuzzies.

    I think if they’re did have a wide spread announcement about this change there would be even more acceptance of this technology. …and hopefully a push to get Comcast to add HDNET channels to there programming in my area, I‘m hoping.

    As far as using Computer Monitors as TV sets, I think that’s great! I’d gladly give up the 17 inch model that I currently use as a footrest at work. Ever since I got a switch to use only one Monitor, Mouse and Keyboard for 2 PCs, well over a year ago, I can get anyone to haul it away.

    Change is always scary for most people and so is newer technology, that fear factor has to be taken into consideration and addressed in way that will reach a large audience and be palatable. Maybe a Simpson’s episode about it would do the trick. ;o)

    Comment by Mary Winser -

  27. give the people what they dont want.

    I have a 55 inch Mis. with HD. I have comcast cable and a number of HD channels.. I am an HD fan I love it.. But.. I am against “forcing it”. “speed up the transition?”.. Let the market do it.. and keep the gov. out…

    Comment by Mike Verinder -

  28. “Of course the NAB will freak out, saying that people will hate losing their analog TVs, however that can be dealt with. Put an SVHS output in the new tuner and you could watch the digital programming through a 49 dollar VCR, DVD or on a TV that supported SVHS, and with a little bit of work, you could do the same with composite output.”

    I haven’t seen the NAB stance, but if it’s anything like what I’m thinking, both the FCC (and now you, since they are consulting with you, have a lot of work ahead). And if they are still shooting for 2006 there’s not a lot of time to figure this one out.

    The idea you propose would be nice, but I’m afraid implementation may be more difficult that it appears.

    I think one of the main reasons digital TV penetration has been so low here in the US is that the majority of people just want to simply turn on the TV and watch it. They don’t know and/or care about DTV, NTSC vs. ATSC standards and (unfortunately) the higher quality HD offers.

    Case in point: I know a least a couple of hundred people (outside of A/V web forums) that own one or more TV sets. Out of all those people five (including myself) have HDTV or HD capable sets (as far as I know). Out of those five there is only *one* currently receiving HD broadcasts (me). I can tell people ’til the cows come home how great it is, show them what it looks like, etc. but at the end of the day they are just going to go home, flip on the set and watch ‘Days of our Lives’, ‘Survivor’ or whatever stuff they happen to be interested in that’s currently showing, because it’s easy and they don’t *have* to care about that line coming into the wall attached to the box that someone from the cable capmany set up for them. It’s easy, it’s done, so why think anything more about it? The perception (and the reality, for the “scared of programming the VCR” set) of being too complicated is a decent-sized hurdle to get past.

    If you were to tell these people they now need to purchase a tuner that will allow them to be able to keep the programming they are *already* getting, it will probably be met with a lot of resistance, with both the ‘complications’ and another point I’ll get into later- cost.

    A point on the PC monitor idea- trying to get people to change a lifetime habit of turning on the tube and plopping on the couch but now having them move to the room where the PC is at to watch their shows probably won’t fly well with many folks. This would also impact multi-TV families, as each analog TV would need to be replaced.

    Getting back to analog sets..many of these people I know are on a tight budget and some of them are trying to figure out how they will make next months’ rent. Having been in that position in the past I understand it very well. I would hope that the FCC would have some subsidy plan in place for either *very* low cost (or no cost) tuners for those who either qualify for goverment assistance or those who are under a certain income bracket *and* who are currently receiving OTA analog or lifeline basic cable (no box).

    Which brings me to a cable upgrade model for those with analog cable boxes. A forced digital cable upgrade for everyone would seem to be the solution- but only if it’s has near zero impact to the subscriber (and it’s the same rate they were paying for their current analog service). Though in practice it’s about $10.00 or greater per month, which is why many still have the same old analog boxes.

    And to bring it all together- trying to convince our elder generation (many on a fixed income) they will need to both replace their VCR and they *also* need to purchase this new “gadget-tunerthingamabob” (if no subsidy is in place) to ‘fix’ the TV that was working ‘perfectly well’ before the analog spectrum got cut off, well- I sure hope the FCC has a pretty good PR campaign in mind😉

    As for myself- I made the switch to digital a few years ago (and more recently HD) and haven’t looked back (with the exception of one item- I still tape Simpsons off the analog OTA signal as I’m getting a danged fine signal from my local FOX affliate).

    Good luck, you guys have a tough road ahead with this. It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out.

    deeann

    Comment by deeann -

  29. Mike suggest that the problem is broadccasters who are not broadcasting digitally yet.

    That is emphatically not the problem. The problem is that consumers are not buying into OTA digital reception. The US has less than ONE% penetration after SEVEN years. Berlin,Japan, Italy and England have from ten to twenty times the penetration after only MONTHS or at best a little over a year.

    The reasons that consumers are not buying in are…

    NO ONE IS SELLING OTA receivers to them!!!
    NO ONE IS SELLING OTA receivers to them because few dealers and few manufacturers beleive there is a market.
    There is no market because the receivers cost a lot and they don’t work well.

    Customers are reluctant because of word of mouth about the need, the cost and the unknown HASSLE factor associattd with the use of antennas.

    It makes emminent sense to just wait for most consumers till the HD proposition on cable or satellite and the cost of the HD monitor makes sense with their pocket book and that is what the small percentage of consumers who know very much about the subject in the first place is doing.

    NOT so in Berlin where 95% of consumers are hooked up to cable or satellite. In Berlin the OTA DTV proposition is simple. Thirty free channels for the price of an OTA receiver which is as low as $85. Then they can decide whether they want to cancel cable or satellite or keep free OTA and stay with cable or satellite.

    No worries about antennas in the coverage area and the coverage area is expanding this month to many more areas of Germany.

    That is low cost plug and play receivers with little or NO hassle factor and decent content.

    Japan and Italy are even hotter countries than Berlin and England. Japan offers HDTV in ONLY THREE cities and ONLY since last December and yet they have sold a MILLION HD recevers of which 92% are in monitors (integrated). And would you beleive it NO MANDATE.

    Again there is NO hassle factor, it just works.

    Dealers do not want to sell a product that brings customers back for refunds and that has to be resold as open box specials.

    YES the whole OTA HDTV debacle was generated by broadcasters to hold onto spectrum or hold spectrum off the market as long as possible so as to keep the current cash cow, NTSC, going for as long as possible with as little competition as possible.

    So far they are succedding. The US Congress and the FCC do their bidding in all its detail. A broadcaster litterally laughed at me when I suggested that FCC Media director Ken Ferree’s suggestion of 2009 was a possibility. 2020 was the nearest possibility this broadaster suggested.

    2020 would represent 23 years of DTV transition or almost half the life span of NTSC. Compare 23 years to the NINE months it took Berlin.

    Comment by Bob Miller -

  30. Speaking of advancing the Mavericks, I’m confident Mark shall find a way to sign Phil Jackson as coach and his disciple named Shaquille O’Neal when they leave the Lakers. There is much anger in Lakerland toward Diesel’s unwillingness to take a paycut and most die-hard Laker followers believe that Dallas could be the next destination for the fearsome twosome.

    Comment by Jim -

  31. Mark, you should go read some Dallas fan forums such as dallas-mavs.com Your fans have some good ideas to advance this franchise.

    Comment by Amy -

  32. Like pocket calculators, video games, PCs, Satelite TV the list goes on. It’s the Marketing 101 concept of “creaming”. Get the dumb bastards, with money to burn, to buy the latest and greatest. When that market dries up, the cost drops a tier and effeciency increases perportianatly. The path is clear, Mark. Get your rich buddies to finish up their obligation and the manufacurers will follow up with theirs. Within two years there will be a chicken in every pot and an ATCS in every living room. You’re ahead of the curve Dude. Love the blog!!

    Comment by Jim Taylor -

  33. Get the league to sign off on a few games for a beta audience. Donate the equipment, let the Nielson people feel a part of it. Do a ducumentary on it, spin it to the cables as a subscription product and see where it goes.
    The tech is a great idea and ahead of its time.

    Comment by Mike -

  34. We stopped watching TV when the first Gulf ‘Nintendo’ War was on, and never looked back. It’s amazing how much time it frees up. Try it!

    Comment by mattc -

  35. like the tiles says, who really cares?

    Comment by Jason -

  36. the only thing that made sense was that you obviously know more about all of this stuff than the FCC does.
    now you just need to tell them that what they are doing to howard stern is wrong.

    Comment by Robert -

  37. If your goal is to get the analog broadcasting holdouts to broadcast in digital and return their analog spectrum, your biggest problem is not technical, it’s political. That means that Bob Miller’s troll about switching from 8VSB to DBS-T is way off the point.

    When they designed the transition to have an open-ended period of simulcasting, it was the biggest con ever. The NAB are going to fight tooth and nail to keep simulcasting until the 20’s and beyond. Mark my words.

    Comment by Mike -

  38. A distribution of inexpensive, HD/computer monitor and analog television compatible ATSC tuners sounds like a great idea.

    I’ve been using a Sony wide screen computer CRT (GDM-FW900) to display HDTV and it’s excellent. With a little manual letterboxing, it has made for a 16:9 picture of around 21.5 inches, which has been great for my bedroom.

    Unfortunately, I think the FW900 and most of the other Sony computer CRTs have been recently discontinued, but there is certainly a huge installed base of computer CRTs out there along with a variety of current models. (It would be nice if someone were to come out with another wide screen computer CRT.)

    Comment by Steve -

  39. Robin & others,

    Completely understand what you are saying, but Marc’s idea was meant to speed up the adoption rate of HDTV – and comparing ourselves (knowing we are all interested enough in technology to be discussing in in a forum such as this) to the average consume is unfair.

    It’s great that we have 7.1 recievers and media center PCs, but most US housholds don’t. In fact, I believe only a couple million media centers have been sold to date – which is dwarfed by the 5-6mm digital TVs that analysts expect will be sold this year alone.

    Sure, a low cost adapter to watch HDTV on a CRT would appeal to a few (us). But what the industry needs to do is convince people that their TV sets are as dated as the Windows 95 box that’s sitting in their garage.

    Comment by Jim M -

  40. The days of having a PC in one room, and the TV in another are over. I think the comments in the blog shows that he understands that. Pretty soon everyone will broswe the internet through their TVs.

    Hotels already do it these way. Get With It People!

    Comment by Private -

  41. More comments in response to this blog have been posted
    over at AVSforum:

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=404648

    Comment by Tom -

  42. First reply to “A lot of questions”

    I’ve often though how awesome it would be if we could access any television station in the world over the internet, and we could create our own stations.

    This is a very intriguing idea and possible if everyone had fiber run to the home. In Milan Italy, Fastweb has Fast Ethernet (100Mb) to the home and has enormous on demand entertainment options. As you said, an individual could conceivably broadcast in HD if the connection was through fiber to/from the home. I like this idea very much and having worked for Cisco in the Content Networking division I can see possible ways of actually doing this… IF you had fiber to the home. I have thought for some time now that Cities should create building codes should require fiber run to the home instead of just requiring coaxial. It really would not cost any more as fiber, in mass, is just as expensive as coaxial. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.

    Second reply to “That might solve part of the problem”

    My content input is via coaxial cable from my Cable/Internet Provider Time Warner. For entertainment or cable TV I input this directly into my Microsoft Media Center Edition PC which contains a surround sound 7-1 audio card. I take the 7 audio surround sound outputs from this and plug them into my Onkyo 901 Multimedia amplifier which can handle switching audio and video. I currently only use it for audio and run the video out the Microsoft MCE Component port to my LG 50” Plasma and run the computer output to the RGB input on the LG.

    For HDTV unfortunately I have to run the coaxial cable to the digital STB from Time Warner as Microsoft MCE does not yet have a HDTV/Video card … but soon will.

    I have 7 speakers surround sound entertainment with HDTV and wireless keyboard and mouse and have both the computer screen and HDTV on a split screen at the same time or dedicated video output from any of the inputs listed above.

    My point is that the technology is ALL already there and the problem is not partially solved…. But solved… you just need to get the components and hook it up. Get HDNet from your local provider and you will have some great content to view. Go to http://www.hd.net to view the content they have.

    MFFL
    HDNetFFL

    Comment by Robin -

  43. OK, so I’ll buy that some people might be content lugging their PC monitor into the living room. But are folks who would be content using a 17-21″ screen as their primary entertainment display the same people who have sound systems hooked up to their TV?

    If not (as I would suspect), how will users of this device hear the audio portion of a broadcast?

    Some might suggest that people will use their PC’s speakers, but at that point your proposed device might as well be a pci card. And you’re trying to convince my mom to watch TV at her computer.

    Comment by Jim M -

  44. I have computer monitors (19″) but honestly I would be more interested in my 27″ Sony. It’s a few years old, and has a free S-Video port. I assume your tuner box would work.

    But I have DirectTV and get the local channels through it. What will broadcast digital buy me?

    One of my favorite pasttimes is watching a music video channel
    from Australian that I access over the Internet. I can get as high as a 400K stream, which gives good quality. I’ve often though how awesome it would be if we could access any television station in the world over the internet, and we could create our own stations. Just go to http://www.nba.com and watch any basketball game, live or on demand. Seems like with DirectTV or cable or broadcast, we are at the mercy of our provider.

    Comment by Robbie Barton -

  45. England will have 20% penetration of DTV OTA receivers this year, same in Berlin. Japan has sold a million HDTV receivers, 92% are integrated sets, since December 2003, Italy which just started OTA DTV broadcasting will have a million receivers sold by Christmas. The only thing keeping the number down is the availability of receivers.

    The lowest priced new OTA DTV receiver in England on sale was $40 with an average price of $100-$150.

    In all these countries and more products like mobile DTV sets, PDA’s, PCMCIA cards and even cell phones will receive OTA DTV.

    The antennas used are as small as 1 1/2 inches on a cell phone in Japan
    http://www.itmedia.co.jp/mobile/0308/08/sanyo.html

    or invisible inside the unit like this portable/mobile DTV with a four diversity receiver built in.
    http://www.followmedia-tv.com/

    or this cell phone with built-in antenna
    http://neasia.nikkeibp.com/wcs/leaf/CID/onair/asabt/news/307636

    If you want to help with the digital transition tell the FCC to read the report being generated by the GAO on Berlin. Berlin has already turned off analog after a NINE month DTV transition and they did it without a wimper from the public or a mandate.

    The public has bought in to the DTV transition in Japan, England, Berlin because they were presented with a rational proposition. Easy reception with simple antennas that work plug and play with current analog TV sets as well as with HDTV sets where HD is being broadcast.

    The public is not and will not buy into the mess we now have even with the mandate. We need to join the rest of the world and use the world standard modulation. Even S. Korea, the home of our current 8-VSB modulation is about to switch. They won’t be the first, Taiwan switched a few years ago.

    Comment by Bob Miller -

  46. So the FCC is serving the public if they get all the TV stations to broadcast digitally, cease analog transmissions, and return their old analog spectrum space for reassignment regardless of digital tuner adoption rates? I think the public would be pretty upset if 90% of the TV sets out there stopped working unless the person went out and bought a $400 digital tuner. If the consumers can’t tune it in, doesn’t matter if it’s broadcast…. lots of HDTV content is the one compelling thing about digital transmission that will make people want to plunk down the cash for tuners, then you’ll start to get an economy of scale and technology will move faster as it becomes a more common item, and the prices will start to fall which will bring along the rest of the consumers even if they are not upgrading to HDTV, either through purchase of a new, cheaper tuner, or a new set.

    Comment by Rob Meyer -

  47. Posted too soon… Also, the FCC’s mandatory converstion from analog to digital has NOTHING to do with the end consumer. It is all about getting television stations and other broadcast providers to switch their back end equipment to digital.

    Comment by Todd -

  48. Let’s not forget we are talking about analog to digital here… that’s doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with HDTV.

    Comment by Todd -

  49. Let’s not forget we are talking about analog to digital here… that’s doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with HDTV.

    Comment by Todd -

  50. …there’s still nothing to watch. I’ve had HDTV for a year and a half now (added the tuner then; had an HD capable TV for 2 years before that) and I say -maybe- 10% of what my household watches is HD. Not only that, but the providers (sat & local TV for me) don’t even seem to care about HD. It’s near impossible to find out if something is going to be on in HD; oooh, the Kings/Suns game is in HD on ESPN HD…but wait? Will it be blacked out because it’s available locally too? Local games aren’t HD…and just because it’s on ESPN HD and the tuner says it’s going to be HD, doesn’t mean that it actually will be HD. Nothing worse than watching a basketball game on ESPN-HD that’s not only not in HD, but _stretched_ to the wrong proportions to fill the screen, so then I have to flip to regular, horribly compressed ESPN to watch the game, especially when I invited all my friends over to see an HD basketball game.

    My local NBC affiliate owns two stations, the other one being a WB network. They run it on one of the SD sub-channels of the main station. So they only can do one HD show at a time…usually it’s the NBC one which is what I prefer, but if you wanted to watch a WB HD show, you’d get the non-HD version instead sometimes. Plus, they often forget to change the mode on their equipment when the rare HD NBC show comes on, and rather than let customer equipment handle sizing, they add black bars on the side of their 4:3 non-HD content to fill it out to 16:9 which forces most equipment to not be able to zoom it. Since shows like ER and West Wing are letterboxed, I then windowboxing _and_ letterboxing; a tiny 16:9 picture sitting in the middle of my 16:9 tv, with 4-5″ of black bars all the way around.

    This is assuming that they broadcast anything at all. Often the digital feed will go down for a few hours at a time and I have to switch back to analog.

    And too bad if you’re a local advertiser; a lot of the time they forget to run the local ads, and you get a black screen with a little dancing NBC logo where the local ads should be plugged in. That would piss me off something fierce if I were a local advertiser, since HDTV owners probably heavily overlap the demographic I’m trying to target.

    So anyway, none of these issues are the end of the world for me, after all, it’s just TV. They are annoying, especially when I spent so much on gear, but following the HDTV adoption closely I’m prepared for these “early adopter, not-ready-for-prime-time moments”; I knew what I was getting into. But the average joe who just want to watch their reality TV, football games, basketball games, and Nascar races in HD without having to worry about it is going to be sorely disappointed to find out they don’t get to do any of that on a regular basis, even though they just spent $400 for a tuner.

    I got the tuner for movies, but never got to watch any HD movies because Showtime and HBO HD on DirecTV only have east coast feeds, and 5pm is not the best time to start watching the movies on a weekday. HD-Tivo would cost _another_ $1000 and the legal status of actually being able to record anything is still up in the air.

    Too make a long story short (too late! :-)), until the frustrations are ironed out, no one is going to be happy with HDTV until they can just plug it in and the majority of what they watch is in trouble free HD.

    Comment by Rob Meyer -

  51. Why not run your idea pass Rolla Huff. I am sure he will give you great feedback.

    Comment by Private -

  52. brilliant

    Comment by damnitjanet -

  53. Idea needs works. Too far out. What you are trying do is amazing. Maybe you should spend more time working on cell phone technology. Thats where I am placing all my efforts.

    Comment by Overshooting -

  54. just work on lowering the cost of HDTVs? Make smaller, cheaper HD ready TV’s instead of giant 52 inchers. People want 19″ tvs probably more than they need/afford giant ones. THAT is the first step.

    Comment by Scott Griffith -

  55. Content is still king…

    We are not quite there yet with digital and HD content to make the jump. Case in point … how many music channels do you see (CMT, VH1, MTV, and others not owned by Viacom) broadcasting in HD? You have the one on HDNet “True Music” but no one national or international.

    Hell, I still can’t get NBC in HD in my area (Austin).

    Here are the things that would speed up the transition to Digital/HD along with my current set up:

    • PVR/DVR companies required to be HDTV compatible by end of 2004
    • Standards set for Interactive eCommerce HDTV based on RosettaNet Standards for B2C/B2B creating the eHome portal for the future.
    • Computer companies and video card companies creating HDTV/Video cards for under $150.
    • More diversified HD Content broadcast nationally, i.e. Sports, Special Events, all content by the 3 National Broadcasters, Music Channels
    • All new content created for Cable should be required to be HD
    • Create Interactive eLearning for K-12 local tutoring channels via HDTV funded by the Alfred P. Sloan foundation and the FCC.
    • Create a new HD Video Phone market and instead of just audio phones have video phones as the standard.

    All of these above are doable and functional now. I currently have a 50” plasma flat panel that serves both as my HDTV and my computer monitor which I am typing this email on right now.

    MFFL
    HDNetFFL

    Comment by Robin -

  56. just work on lowering the cost of HDTVs? Make smaller, cheaper HD ready TV’s instead of giant 52 inchers. People want 19″ tvs probably more than they need/afford giant ones. THAT is the first step.

    Comment by Scott Griffith -

  57. Think of where most people have their computers, or even those who would use a computer monitor to base their home entertainment station around. I already have a stand alone tv-tuner for my 17″ lcd, with a pass through so I can switch between my laptop and a tv signal, and I rarely use it.

    People want their tv and their computer enviroments seperate. This is the same reason that all the tv-internet mergance that was so heavily hyped in the late 90’s has not happened.

    Comment by jbass -

  58. Anything that makes sense the FCC will go against as we all know its not about making sense its about making the biggest dollar. Mark your idea is PERFECT its extremly cost effective and would save people thousands of dollars but at the same time it would cost the TV business billions of dollars is lost rev due to the cheaper cost of production, so as you know they will fight this til the end so they dont lose money.

    How do we get this through well im a poor kid so Mark its all on you and your pocket book.

    Comment by David Drake -

  59. I’ve been desperately waiting for the price of standalone ATSC tuners to drop so that I can receive digital programming over the air on my 16X9 LCD monitor/television that is presently connected to my computer. If it works well, I’d put an ATSC tuner on every analog tv in my apartment and downconvert the signal, if the darned tuners were affordable. I just can’t seem to find any that are in the price range of a college student.

    Your suggestion seems like it ought to solve the standalone tuner cost issue as well as give the TV manufactures a firm kick in the butt to start putting ATSC tuners in all of their new units. Most of my friends don’t seem to realize that the analog spectrum is being reclaimed and that television *will* go digital soon — I’m sure if they did realize that tv manufactures would soon find their sales of analog only sets slipping.

    Comment by Trent -

  60. “make sense ?”

    haha, none at all… and I consider myself pretty technical! I understood right around half of it though, if that helps! 🙂

    Comment by Ryan -

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