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post #631 of 2861 Old 08-23-2010, 02:44 PM
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Are either AM or FM radios government-mandated for cars? I suspect not, but I did a Google search for this and found nothing. Anyone know?

But really, it doesn't matter. As the automobile became more popular, radio became more popular with it, and car buyers wanted radios, so auto manufacturers offered them. I suspect that even if there is no government mandate on car radios today, you would find it difficult to order a car without a radio. People still want them, because it is a useful accessory that works will with the overall driving experience.

If there was any genuine demand or need for either AM or FM radio on mobile phones, phone manufacturers would have identified it long ago. In fact, some manufacturers tried offering phones with terrestrial radio and found that it was a failure, particularly because it added cost in excess of the perceived value and because it drained battery life too much.

The NAB seeking an FM radio mandate on cell phones is basically an early death rattle for another industry that appears to believe the only way it can survive is if it has a lip lock on the government teat. Of course, this is an NAB specialty.

Public interest? Is there's a more twisted phrase than "public interest" in our political vocabulary today, I'd like to know what it would be. Public interest is defined by the people whose palms are greased, in favor of those with the most grease to offer.

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post #632 of 2861 Old 08-23-2010, 02:59 PM
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The really interesting part is that many phones already have radio hardware built in, it's just disabled. Apple's products, for instance, have an FM receiver in hardware, and simply has not written software to use it. It's a function of another decoder chip that's in the hardware anyway.

So it adds literally nothing to the cost outside of perhaps a few hours of developer time writing an interface for it.

I'm not arguing for or against a mandate, I'm only saying the argument that it will drive up prices or harm battery life doesn't add up in my mind, since the hardware is largely already present.

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post #633 of 2861 Old 08-23-2010, 03:39 PM
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Very few cars are made without radios, but a small number are just so car manufacturers can say that radios are an "option". Same as air conditioning and automatic transmissions and tilt steering wheels and cigarette lighters and.......it lets them advertize a lower base price for a car but jack up the final price. Cars destined to become police cars are almost always made without a radio (an AM/FM radio that is).

How can we say "the digital transition is complete" when thousands of low power stations are still broadcasting in analog?
LOW POWER ANALOG NEEDS TO DIE NOW!!!
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post #634 of 2861 Old 08-23-2010, 06:42 PM
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For those of you who have shown an interest in a generic letter to send to your representatives in Congress, see the attached. Of course more personalized letters are better.

Thanks to ota.dtv.man for his input!

 

Generic Letter.doc 26.5k . file

It's 2014 and you're still paying for television?
 

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post #635 of 2861 Old 08-23-2010, 08:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trip in VA View Post

The really interesting part is that many phones already have radio hardware built in, it's just disabled. Apple's products, for instance, have an FM receiver in hardware, and simply has not written software to use it. It's a function of another decoder chip that's in the hardware anyway.

So it adds literally nothing to the cost outside of perhaps a few hours of developer time writing an interface for it.

I'm not arguing for or against a mandate, I'm only saying the argument that it will drive up prices or harm battery life doesn't add up in my mind, since the hardware is largely already present.

You're right -- the cost argument doesn't add up.

An interesting question is over the matter of why the functionality is present in the hardware, but not supported by the software. Aside from those Apple products, I've read that this is also true for many cellphones not sold in the US. I've further read that the FM radio functionality is disabled at the preference of the service carriers, who would prefer that the phones not be used for non-revenue generating FM radio listening.

I don't know if that's true, but it certainly is plausible, since the purchase subsidy/two-year contract model that is common in the US cellphone market certainly does give the carriers more control over which features are included in phones sold in the US -- and they have been known to use that control to delay or prevent the arrival of cellphone features that don't add to their bottom line. In these instances, the end customer never gets to "vote" with his purchase on whether a particular feature would be desired.

Perhaps a compromise is in order: don't mandate FM tuners in cellphones, but do prohibit the carriers from keeping tuners out of the phones that they subsidize. In other words, let customers make the choice on an open market.
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post #636 of 2861 Old 08-25-2010, 06:48 AM
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A radio receiver would actually make the modern "smart phone" a useful part of the nation's emergency communications system. As it stands, the devices are the biggest waste of resources in the nation's history when you consider the capital tied up in mobile payments, the productivity lost, the distracted drivers and the radiation hazards.

Can you tell that I effing hate these things?
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post #637 of 2861 Old 08-25-2010, 08:04 AM
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post #638 of 2861 Old 08-25-2010, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by kycubsfan View Post

A radio receiver would actually make the modern "smart phone" a useful part of the nation's emergency communications system. As it stands, the devices are the biggest waste of resources in the nation's history when you consider the capital tied up in mobile payments, the productivity lost, the distracted drivers and the radiation hazards.

Can you tell that I effing hate these things?

Despite the fact that hundreds of millions of people in the US find mobile phones not just useful but indispensable, a cranky elitist minority is dead certain they are wasting our national treasure at a rate unknown in history.

Well, here's a wake-up call -- those resources belong to everyone, not government -- and an overriding percentage of the populace have voted -- with their hard-earned money -- that they want mobile phones and mobile data services. And they're not prepared to forgo or reduce cell phone use just because it doesn't sync up with the personal aesthetics of the self-anointed protectors of all that is good and correct.

Sadly, we get the same self-centered, myopic thinking here about hundreds of millions of people wasting money (mind you, their own money) on cable and satellite TV, while an army of clueless do-gooders are tirelessly defending an anachronistic system that less than 20% of the population cares squat about.

It's illogical to argue for FM radio on a cell phone as a useful emergency information source. For how long? Two or three hours, until the battery in the phone is drained? What then? Remember, this is an emergency, and if it's like many emergencies, electrical power is going to be hard to find. Yes, maybe you can charge the phone again from a car kit. But wait -- there's already a radio in the car, and while the car battery won't last forever either, it's going to last a helluva lot longer than a proprietary phone battery that can't be swapped out in many phones (the iPhone being a classic example).

And in case you missed it, that radio is in the car, because people want/demand it, not because the government decided it should be there or that one or more industries would benefit from it being mandated.

I'd also like to pour some cold water over the idea that the lack of FM radio on cell phones is some sort of carrier conspiracy. If it's true that the iPhone already has FM radio circuitry built in, it's not AT&T blocking it, because Apple has absolute and final control over the iPhone platform -- AT&T has no say whatsoever (this is one of the iPhone selling points). I'm not a big Apple fan myself, but I do think it's clear that Apple is a highly customer-driven company. So, if iPhone users really wanted/needed standalone FM radio capability on the iPhone, Steve Jobs would see to it that they have it.

But even if there was some reason Apple is holding back FM radio from the iPhone, it's their platform and their decision, not AT&T and certainly not the government's, to make.

These arguments about over-the-air TV and FM-radio-on-cell-phones as emergency information sources is just a Trojan Horse for advancing the needs of one or more narrow special interest groups, in this case the wards of the NAB and the feckless music industry. The NAB doesn't want to meet the music industry's royalty demands, so the NAB compromise is to have the government artificially expand the market for FM radio listeners. When this is how decisions are made on what's good and necessary for the public, what could possibly go wrong?

If the NAB were really concerned about the citizenry having access to important news and information during local or national emergencies, they'd regularly be running PSAs on their member radio stations reminding people that it's a good idea to have at least one battery-powered radio in their home, with a good stock of fresh batteries on hand, in the event of emergency. I remember hearing that sort of PSA from time to time years ago, but I don't believe I've heard that sort of thing even once in the past 10 years.

And you know, that sort of NAB program would actually be good for their members AND the public.

But no, that sort of solution would be far too obvious and lacking in the opportunity to line some group's pockets and some politician's re-election coffers. The NAB is clearly too busy making the rounds in Washington on its hands and (mostly) knees.

Doug

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post #639 of 2861 Old 08-25-2010, 08:58 AM
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You call it "mobile data," I call it "Farmville."

A mobile phone hardwired to monitor the band for EAS bulletins would be a good thing indeed.
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post #640 of 2861 Old 08-25-2010, 12:28 PM
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Sadly, we get the same self-centered, myopic thinking here about hundreds of millions of people wasting money (mind you, their own money) on cable and satellite TV, while an army of clueless do-gooders are tirelessly defending an anachronistic system that less than 20% of the population cares squat about.

So, what should we say about people who defend an industry that keeps raising its rates at a rate several times the rate of inflation? Should we use a made up "spectrum crisis" to eliminate their recently renewed source of competition?

I still haven't figured out the psychological reason for your apparent hatred of broadcasting. It is a fairly deeply held hatred. What have broadcasters done to you?

I know how Comcast helped to make my life miserable for several years. Jack your price up, jack your price up, and jack your price up some more. In all the years I've used free TV, both analog and digital, they've never jacked my monthly bill up. And yes, for many Americans pay TV is a total waste of money, which wasn't necessarily the case before the digital transition, or before cable bills got totally out of hand.

And, by the way, who is to say that the quarter of one percent that TV subscriptions dropped last quarter wasn't just the beginning? I think it is. You won't agree because your myopically focused on what happened the last 20 years.

And, don't tell me I'm not being rational. Your the one who says you want to be rational, but then it's you who go off on an irrational tirade.

It's 2014 and you're still paying for television?
 

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post #641 of 2861 Old 08-25-2010, 09:43 PM
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I still haven't figured out the psychological reason for your apparent hatred of broadcasting. It is a fairly deeply held hatred. What have broadcasters done to you?

Maybe I ought to just suck it up and let this pass, but this is at least the second time here that you've characterized my motives for the positions I've taken as being based on hate.

The first time, you accused me of hating the poor, because of my position on free over-the-air broadcasting, despite the fact that I never even mentioned anything at all about relative income levels in my argument. And now, you're taking my comments about the NAB and the broadcasting industry and attributing them to some deep vein of hate I'm directing at the the industry at large and and the people and organizations I've encountered within it. This mode of argument is deceitful and demagogic, with a side order of intellectual vacancy.

I've been very clear and specific about the reasons that I disapprove of the way the TV and radio industry, via the NAB, conducts business. If you're not clear on that by now, you really should take some time to actually read what I've written rather than just playing the reactionary.

As to your lone specific argument, why am I not surprised that you are placing massive weight on a 3-month trend versus the medium and longer-term data? That said, you may actually be proven to be right, but driving that stake into the ground, based on such a shallow sample size serves as a pretty good working definition of wishful thinking.

I respectfully give you full credit for correctly calling my reaction on that one. Definitely not a lucky guess.

I'd also point out that unemployment is currently at something like a 20-year high, and that might just have something to do with the rather modest decline in subscription TV numbers. I think it's much more likely that any fledgling decline in Pay TV numbers is driven more by short-term economic pressures than any newfound, fledgling love for broadcast television.

Feel free to make a note in your calendar, and we can huddle up here in August 2011, August 2012 and August 2013, and see how this actually plays out. I'll cheerfully admit if you're right and I'm wrong.

Doug

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post #642 of 2861 Old 08-26-2010, 11:00 AM
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I think that if we are honest both NAB and CTIA play by similar rules. Both are trying to get favorable regulations for their industry at the expense of other industries. That seems to be the way the game is played. I wish that didn't have to be the case. The point I've tried to make is that I can see the NAB radio receiver point. I don't know if I would support it, I just can see their point. It's a lot more reasonable than CTIA or CEA wanting to take the whole UHF band for cell phones.

Here is why I believe that OTA viewership is going to go up and subscription viewership is going to go down:

In 2005 I was OTA only, lived in my current neighborhood, had a rooftop antenna and got maybe 9 channels, some of which were barely viewable.

Christmas of 2007 I purposely went out and looked for DTV converter boxes because I desperately needed to kill the cable bill. They weren't available, and a large percentage of the TVs on the shelf at Walmart were still analog. When I got a converter box in mid 2008 some of the channels hadn't converted yet (the LPs & translators) and others were just running filler channels on their digital station. Even after the official transition translators often stayed analog, and that is still true in some cases to this day.

Now, living in the same neighborhood as 2005, I get 21 English Language digital channels from two markets (it would have been impossible to get watchable channels from Denver in 2005, and now they come in on a set top antenna), and as I said before not all the LPs and translators have converted over yet. There may be as many as 5 or 6 more channels coming on the horizon. There could be even more if the licensing freeze was lifted. I'm not sure how many Spanish channels there are, but there are several. ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CW, and MyNetworkTV are all in HD. Two of the channels are junk channels, but even those are more watchable than a snowy LP. I realize that the quality issue isn't the same for all regions, and there are fringe areas where pay-TV is the only way you're going to get a decent channel selection.

Meanwhile subscription TV prices have been averaging 4% increases per year for the last 10 years despite record profits. High quality free OTA meets price gouging, dishonest marketing,, and the worst economy in decades. The fact of the matter is in many ways the digital transition is still in process and I see subscription TV dropping significantly over the next few years and the subscription providers actually needing to work to get people back when the economy improves. I agree that we need to review this in 2011, 2012, 2013, etc. But, I can't honestly see it working out any other way without government intervention.

It's 2014 and you're still paying for television?
 

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post #643 of 2861 Old 08-26-2010, 08:05 PM
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Time will demonstrate who is right in this particular debate.

And, yeah, it may well be that the weak economy is responsible for the decline in subscription TV subscriptions in the past quarter -- time will answer that particular question, as well.

However, I can't help but make note of the massive amount of advertising and promotional money devoted to pushing subscription TV services. I would estimate that I toss at least a dozen advertising fliers per month from Verizon (FIOS), Time Warner, DISH, and DirecTV into the trash. And that's far from the only way that they all advertise, of course.

In contrast, there's how much of a promotional push for free-OTA TV? Is it any wonder that we regularly encounter people who are absolutely surprised to discover that it is possible to receive high definition TV programming off-air for free? Considering the heavy promotional push for subscription TV services, it's no wonder that pay TV uptake rates have been steadily increasing...and almost a miracle that the rate would drop for even a single quarter...
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post #644 of 2861 Old 08-27-2010, 04:00 AM
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I was having money problems in the late 90s but since I was only paying $35 a month for cable cancelling my subscription was the last thing on my mind. The channels had good programming on them and there were hardly any DVDs out. The analog over the air signal only gave me 5 channels to watch and I had to deal with static and ghosting. The last five years I had cable from 2003-2008 my cable bill jumped from $43 a month to $83 a month. Now we have all kinds of shows on DVD. The digital signal gives me 13 channels OTA (6 in HD) and one of the channels is The Retro Television Network. It is like TV Land used to be but now I get it for free with my antenna. Since I cut the cord in November 2008 I have saved $1,700 in cable fees. I will never go back to pay TV.

Broadcast TV - a vital national public resource
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post #645 of 2861 Old 08-27-2010, 04:09 AM
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There is a guy on another forum that canceled his cable subscription 3 and a half years ago. Since then he has been using the $65 a month to buy DVDs of shows that he is interested in. He has 329 of TV Series on DVD (20,868 Episodes) and over 1,000 movies. He gets to watch them uncut and commercial free with a clutter free screen. And he isn't screwed up with craptastic shows like The Jersey Shore.

Broadcast TV - a vital national public resource
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post #646 of 2861 Old 08-27-2010, 07:09 AM
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Quote:
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However, I can't help but make note of the massive amount of advertising and promotional money devoted to pushing subscription TV services. I would estimate that I toss at least a dozen advertising fliers per month from Verizon (FIOS), Time Warner, DISH, and DirecTV into the trash. And that's far from the only way that they all advertise, of course.

In contrast, there's how much of a promotional push for free-OTA TV? Is it any wonder that we regularly encounter people who are absolutely surprised to discover that it is possible to receive high definition TV programming off-air for free? Considering the heavy promotional push for subscription TV services, it's no wonder that pay TV uptake rates have been steadily increasing...and almost a miracle that the rate would drop for even a single quarter...

Thomas is totally correct about this. You have no problem at all finding out about Verizon FiOS, Time Warner, DISH, DirecTV, Comcast, COX, etc. but the only way people learn about free OTA is by word of mouth. Do you have cable or satellite? You watch over the air? You have 21 channels? All the majors are in HD? The HD is better quality than from cable or satellite? What!?

It's 2014 and you're still paying for television?
 

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post #647 of 2861 Old 08-27-2010, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Thomas Desmond View Post

I can't help but make note of the massive amount of advertising and promotional money devoted to pushing subscription TV services. I would estimate that I toss at least a dozen advertising fliers per month from Verizon (FIOS), Time Warner, DISH, and DirecTV into the trash. And that's far from the only way that they all advertise, of course.

In contrast, there's how much of a promotional push for free-OTA TV? Is it any wonder that we regularly encounter people who are absolutely surprised to discover that it is possible to receive high definition TV programming off-air for free? Considering the heavy promotional push for subscription TV services, it's no wonder that pay TV uptake rates have been steadily increasing...and almost a miracle that the rate would drop for even a single quarter...

It seems to me this is what inevitably happens in industries that depend on aggressive lobbying arms petitioning the government for favorable treatment. They put more money into political log-rolling than improving their product and persuading customers that they appreciate their business and want more of it.

There's no question that the cable and satellite TV industries work the government angle, but they also recognize that they're way back in the line where favors are being handed out. So they ultimately have to be more aggressive and more effective in persuading consumers that the service they offer is attractive and valuable.

While broadcasters were moaning and groaning about the cost and duplication of effort required by the digital TV transition, they could have been looking for ways to improve their product and make consumers aware of how it was going to make the hours they spend in front of the TV even better. Instead, they did the minimal amount necessary to ensure that consumers were aware, and then only due to the fact that their traditional signals would be disappearing as the analog clock spun down. It was a grudging, foot-dragging effort.

On the other hand, think back to how much promotion was done by ESPN to educate its viewers about the benefits and desirability of its HD service. In the early stages of the primary ESPN HD channel, every single time there was a live HD event shown, there was an on-air promotion by the announcers talking about how great their HD monitors looked and how much better it made the sports-at-home experience.

By contrast, when CBS or NBC or one of the other broadcast networks did a live HD sporting event during the early parts of the transition, they usually only mentioned it in the context of who was sponsoring (paying for) the HD broadcast. And the sponsor was usually one of the broadcast infrastructure providers, such as Harris. This always left me with the impression that the broadcast networks weren't really behind HD and that they were doing it ONLY because they were able to offload the costs onto someone with a bigger stake in HDTV succeeding.

When ESPN HD launched, HDTV acceptance by the public was still very much in doubt. HD sales had been growing, but from a very small base to a little-bit-less-small-base each quarter. ESPN, in launching its HD service and tirelessly promoting it, was a very key turning point for the HD market and I believe it ensured that the launch of HDTV would actually succeed. While ESPN was already a dominant force in its particular market segment, timely and proactive adoption of HD made that position bigger and even more secure.

While I'm not a big fan of 3D TV, it will be interesting to see if the broadcast networks do anything much different this time around.

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post #648 of 2861 Old 08-27-2010, 09:57 AM
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While broadcasters were moaning and groaning about the cost and duplication of effort required by the digital TV transition, they could have been looking for ways to improve their product and make consumers aware of how it was going to make the hours they spend in front of the TV even better. Instead, they did the minimal amount necessary to ensure that consumers were aware, and then only due to the fact that their traditional signals would be disappearing as the analog clock spun down. It was a grudging, foot-dragging effort.

It seems to me that broadcasters for a large part have bought the "retrans dual revenue" thing rather than promoting their product as something that can stand on its own. You want to make cable less attractive to advertisers, promote broadcast TV as a stand alone product. Digital, including HD, has made that possible. And, ultimately broadcast as a stand alone product is what will make or break broadcasting.

It's 2014 and you're still paying for television?
 

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post #649 of 2861 Old 08-27-2010, 03:06 PM
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A week ago today we had a very strong storm UNEXPECTEDLY pop up over our town. I heard a little thunder and checked the RADAR from my parents computer. I told them that a small "20 minute rainstorm" was coming and we should close a few windows.

At 2:55 PM last Friday, it began to rain at a rate of about 6" per hour. At 3:05 PM hail began to fall in golf ball size to tennis ball size chunks. At about that time, an 80-90 MPH wind came out of the north. Ten seconds later it was out of the East. A few seconds later it was out of the south. Five seconds later, when the wind was out of the West, a tree came down in my parents yard, dragging down the utility lines.

By 3:20 PM, the winds had died down and the rain had let up. It was still hailing, but not as bad. We hopped in my truck and TRIED to drive through town. Nearly every street was blocked by downed trees, power lines and, in the lower areas, water.

Depending on where you lived in our town, you had 2.4" -3.5" of rain in that 1/2 hour. You may, or may not have had hail damage. You were likely to have lost at least one tree. We were originally told it was a quick developing storm with straight line winds of over 60 MPH. Many accounts are now showing at least one, and likely 2 or 3 funnel clouds that just stayed above ground level, cutting off trees at the power line level, twisting and ripping my TV tower and doing a lot of damage.

Our town was out of power. People a quarter mile from me had missed the storm and had power, however. We were on the national news Saturday morning. Luckily, though trees crushed cars and houses, not one person was hurt in the storm.

Unluckily, cell phone service was non-existent for over an hour, then spotty, at best, for the next 18 or so hours. I live on top of a hill and was able to get service for 30 seconds at a time from a weak tower a town away. People at lower elevations got no reception. Even when we did get reception, the distant towers were most likely overloaded, because our signals were dropped within 30 seconds.

I lived what happened, but, because I had a battery powered radio and OTA TV with a generator, I was able to get local news. My mangled tower is still not fixed, but I am able to get 20 of my normal 22 channels. Internet and cell phone service was aweful. Telephone and electric was out. Our utility people did a FANTASTIC job getting us back up and running, but it was OTA that allowed us to know what was going on and if anything else was coming.

Thousands of people and hundreds of chainsaws did an incredible job at clearing the debris and other than cemetaries and parks, we are relatively back to normal. Of course, those who had the most damage are still waiting for insurance adjusters and contractors, but really, if you had not known of the storm, you may not realize what had happened just one week ago.

My cell phone and my internet was useless during this time. My radio and generator powered OTA TV worked fine, even if I was limited in reception of a few stations due to the damage my towers and antennas received.

Just my very recent real-life two cents worth.
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post #650 of 2861 Old 08-27-2010, 07:03 PM
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300M Mobile DTV Receivers

http://www.tvnewscheck.com/article/2...-dtv-receivers

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post #651 of 2861 Old 08-28-2010, 07:03 AM
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I often wonder who pays for all that advertising that the Cable and satellite companies do.

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post #652 of 2861 Old 08-28-2010, 08:29 AM
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300M Mobile DTV Receivers

http://www.tvnewscheck.com/article/2...-dtv-receivers

Ron

IMHO this is kind of idea we don't need. While adding FM receivers to cell phones would cost next to nothing and is debatable, adding DTV receivers would definitely be too expensive.

There is no doubt in mind that if the members of the NAB lose their spectrum they lose retransmission consent. Instead of worrying so much about about maximizing retransmission consent they should get up off their collective arses and broadcast free ATSC mobile DTV to millions of Americans very quickly before they lose their spectrum. They do need to ask (not mandate) the manufacturers to produce portable sets that can receive both mobile and regular ATSC.
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post #653 of 2861 Old 08-28-2010, 08:48 AM
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In my mind, this is all a case of trying to slap a band-aid on a much bigger problem--excessive control by cellular providers. I would love to buy an ATSC-MH cell phone, but my carrier (US Cellular) does not allow phones on its network that it does not sell you. Even if it's a model approved for their network, you MUST buy the phone through them.

If you could bring any compatible phone to any company and have them activate it, there would be no argument. The market could speak for itself. As it stands, phones are preselected by carriers and then have various functionality (such as FM tuners) disabled for their own purposes.

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post #654 of 2861 Old 08-28-2010, 10:32 AM
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In my mind, this is all a case of trying to slap a band-aid on a much bigger problem--excessive control by cellular providers.
- Trip

Most of the cellular service in the USA comes from only four providers and I suspect in three to five years that will be three. It's an oligopoly with little competition and increasingly a "take it or leave it" attitude toward consumers. Such an industry should really be headed toward more regulation rather than favors from politicians and talk about receiving government handouts. Taking away prime UHF spectrum from the TV broadcast industry to benefit such an industry while hurting the poor, elderly, Spanish language TV viewers, public service, etc. disproportionately is political corruption IMHO.
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post #655 of 2861 Old 08-28-2010, 06:04 PM
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I often wonder who pays for all that advertising that the Cable and satellite companies do.

Hee! I don't think that there is much question about that -- it's the beauty of those big fat monthly subscription fees is that revenue stream supports an awful lot of marketing. Advertising supported broadcasting can't really compete with the sort of dollars that subscription TV services can generate.

However, I'm not going to let broadcasters completely off the hook. "Drop the Remote" made the comment about how ESPN aggressively promoted it's HD service on the air -- and I can't help but wonder how much more aggressive that effort for ESPN versus ABC, despite the fact that they are under common ownership. It's a rare thing to see broadcasters aggressively promote and market the value of their own free digital TV signal -- and if they can't afford to send out a dozen mailers per month like DISH, DirecTV, Time Warner, etc, they certainly can use their own air time for this purpose. Considering the average audience size for big four network affiliates versus almost any cable network, that is still a very powerful marketing platform.

On the other hand, I do think that the comments about lobbying by broadcasters were a red herring -- cable, satellite, and telecom companies are every bit as dependent on the government, and have lobbied at least as aggressively as broadcasters. And somewhat more effectively, I'd say...at least in recent years.
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post #656 of 2861 Old 08-28-2010, 09:21 PM
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It's a rare thing to see broadcasters aggressively promote and market the value of their own free digital TV signal -- and if they can't afford to send out a dozen mailers per month like DISH, DirecTV, Time Warner, etc, they certainly can use their own air time for this purpose. Considering the average audience size for big four network affiliates versus almost any cable network, that is still a very powerful marketing platform.

Tonight, on Ion TV, during the movie "Men of Honor", Ion aggressively promoted and marketed the value of their own free HDTV signal. In fact, their description of benefits sounded very much like our sample letter to Congress. Will wonders never cease!

Broadcast TV - a vital national public resource

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post #657 of 2861 Old 08-29-2010, 05:43 AM
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I often wonder who pays for all that advertising that the Cable and satellite companies do.

This seems like an odd question, suggesting something nefarious. I mean, isn't it obvious who pays these advertising costs? It's the mullahs in Iran.

Seriously, the cost of advertising is ultimately borne by customers, as marketing costs are one of the product inputs that have to be recovered when the pricing for a product or service is determined -- this is how for-profit commerce works. The Pay TV industry is no different from any other business, including car companies, beer companies, floor wax companies etc. that buy advertising on broadcast or cable television or in other media.

For example, DirecTV's subscriber acquisition costs generally run between $700 to $800 per subscriber (note that these are "spitball numbers," based on Google results for a couple of different reporting periods). This includes not just advertising, but also installation/activation, customer support desk burden, and a share of development costs for new products, such as multi-room DVRs.

At an average monthly subscriber fee of around $80-85, it takes 9 to 10 months for DirecTV to make a profit from a single new subscriber. I'm sure these costs vary within the Pay TV industry for different companies, but it is something that is closely watched by investors/analysts and commonly disclosed in financial statements.

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post #658 of 2861 Old 08-29-2010, 07:00 AM
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Sounds like the Pay TV folks can always "Pass Along" their advertising costs to the viewer.
I've never heard of a station doing that to their OTA viewers .

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post #659 of 2861 Old 08-29-2010, 10:02 AM
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Sounds like the Pay TV folks can always "Pass Along" their advertising costs to the viewer.
I've never heard of a station doing that to their OTA viewers .

But in-house promotion costs would/do get passed along by broadcast TV, in at least two ways.

First, the only reason for doing in-house promos to increase the number of viewers, which, if successful, would lead to higher advertising rates, though ideally with incremental improvement in number of viewers reached per dollar spent by advertisers. As long as the station gets more in ad revenue at higher rates than it what it "cost" to air the promos, the station makes more money and the ad agencies are happy to maintain or increase their buy because they can now spend client dollars more efficiently. In turn, that might motivate the ad agencies to to get the clients to spend more via broadcast TV.

Second, the use of in-house promos, where they are aired instead of a paid advertisement, reduces the overall number of ad slots available, which in turn will put some upward pressure on overall ad rates (assuming that all competitors are doing some level of on-air promotion/education). Of course, I expect that stations would try to limit in-house promos to otherwise unsold inventory, but in order to reach the biggest audiences, some sacrifice of paying slots probably would be required to ensure the message is getting out to the biggest number of viewers possible. If ad slot availability is constrained, the cost of those slots will likely rise -- it's basic supply and demand.

It only follows that where promotion costs are borne by subscribers in a pay TV model, they would be carried by advertisers in an advertising-based model. The only reason to do promotion/advertising -- whether it be for Pay TV, broadcast or anything else, is to make more sales, regardless whether it's subscriptions, advertising, or both.

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post #660 of 2861 Old 08-29-2010, 11:04 AM
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But, the Pay TV folks get to actually spend cold, hard cash that they take from the money they get from viewers. That money goes to buy advertising on other platforms.

When TV stations run promotional announcements, they come from a limited "budget" of time, that is allocated to promotions. Taking time to explain DTV to the viewers takes away from time that would have been used to promote the newscast or some other function, or...even worse....a PAID commercial . Hey,..that's how it was explained to me.

I guess that the Engineering Departments should have asked for money in their budgets, to pay their own stations for advertising (Crazy, ain't it?).

I really hope that broadcasters in other countries are paying attention to what we did, right or wrong, in the USA. They could learn a lot before starting their own Digital Transitions.

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