Sinclair stations lack of support for DTV and HDTV - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 06:12 AM - Thread Starter
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I have been noticing a trend around the boards lately. Whenever we are griping about a station that will not support DTV and/or HDTV, about 60% of the time it is a Sinclair owned and operated station. This has to be some sort of corporate directive for this many stations to be dragging their heels.

In central Iowa, we are currently arguing with our local Sinclair ABC affiliate. After many, many broken promises and delays they turned on their half assed "city grade signal" at such a low power that nearly all in the target city (Des Moines) can't pick it up. They still won't purchase the equipment to pass on the HD feed from ABC. No HD MNF in central Iowa.

I thought we might:

1. Organize a list of Sinclair stations that aren't supporting the digital transition. (Maybe a list of those that ARE supporting might be shorter.)

2. Organize something to get Sinclair squirming under the spotlight for a little while.

We are working at this on a local level, but it is becoming obvious to me that our local station's management is not really the one calling the shots here.

Justin
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post #2 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 06:24 AM
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I live near Springfield, MA and our local ABC affiliate it owned by Sinclare. They are broadcasting a very weak digital signal which is not high def. I was really looking forward to Monday Night Football in high def, but that is not likely to happen any time soon.
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post #3 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 06:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by jtuck2
2. Organize something to get Sinclair squirming under the spotlight for a little while.
They have been under the spotlight for over a year and they aren't squirming yet.

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post #4 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 08:06 AM
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WTTE in Columbus, Ohio (Fox affiliate) is on reduced power, even with a brand new antenna atop a 1000 foot tower. Their official response is that it could take up to 12 months to go full power. Heaven knows why.

They are owned by Sinclair media.

My HD DNS days are kaput!
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post #5 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 08:11 AM
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KGAN/CBS Channel 2 in Cedar Rapids is also broadcasting a pathetically weak DTV (not HD) signal in eastern Iowa. Sounds like a recurring theme. Guess who owns them?
Yep, our buddies from Sinclair.

This message has been posted on their website for several months, with no apparent progress being made. It sounds a lot like corporate bulls**t to me. I love the weasel-worded last line in the article.

"KGAN is in the process of locating a HDTV transmitter at the KCRG site near Walker, Iowa. While these facilities are being completed, KGAN is broadcasting a digital format from a low power transmitter at the Cedar Rapids tower on Collins Road.

KGAN is currently broadcasting 24 hours a day on digital channel 51 in the Cedar Rapids area. This signal has a standard aspect ratio the same size as you see on a regular television set. This means you will see gray borders on the sides of your screen when viewing on an HDTV set.

We continue to work toward putting our HDTV infrastructure in place. We will be moving to the HDTV format as soon as we can."
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post #6 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 09:13 AM
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Sinclair is the poster child for why the FCC should take licenses from under-performing station owners.

In addition to its anti-HD stance (they delayed the whole HD movement for more than a year with a claim that the current HD standard was "flawed") they refuse to do news on most stations. Instead they have a centralized news studio in Maryland which provides "news" for many of their "local" stations.

Sinclaire cares about only one thing: the bottom line. It doesn't care about serving its viewers or serving its communities or what kind of picture you get.

I know I'll get flamed with "it's a free enterprise system" and in the case of DBS and MSO and program providers such comments would be right on.
But in the case of station owners (who pledge to provide public service, and licensed by the government to do just that) the management at Sinclaire could make a liberal Democrat out of the late Barry Goldwater...or even me if I had the sad misfortune to live in one of the cities Sinclaire "serves" so poorly.
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post #7 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 09:15 AM
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Here in OKC we have 2 Sinclair owned stations, they are FOX and WB affiliates. Right now both are being broadcast at low power SDTV 24/7. Over the spring-summer they have replaced analog antennas with analog/digital antennas. They are working on building a new transmitter building then they will go to full power. Whether they will go 720p or 1080i still depends on Sinclair though.
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post #8 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 11:40 AM - Thread Starter
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When they turned on the power on WOI last month, after a year of excuses, it is currently broadcasting at 500W. We have received email confirmation from the station manager that this is where it will stay until the FCC forces them to do otherwise. There are people inside the target city of their "city grade" signal that can't get them with top of the line antenna.

I agree with you fred, free enterprise really doesn't much apply here. We are legally blocked from any other US source of this programming. Our only other option here is to go to ExpressVU to get our HD ABC feed. I can't handle the argument with the wife that would entail. One big a$%$ed dish on the side of the house is enough, etc, etc. Let alone another satellite bill.

Any good Sinclair stations out there?
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post #9 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 01:26 PM
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As jambroni said above in Columbus Ohio the Sinclair owns the FOX affiliation and the are at very very low power. BUT the Sinclair owned ABC station WSYX is broadcasting at full power AND HD, but not yet DD5.1.
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post #10 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 01:34 PM
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Sorry for your confusion, but WOI is NOT a Sinclair Station.

Also, I hate to say it, but just because a GM (or station manager) says something does not means that it is an engineering fact.

And just in case some of you have forgotten (or had not known), the powers that I see 'tossed around' are the output powers of the ground-based transmitter. They are NOT (typically) the ERP (effective radiated power) of the station.

TYPICAL EXAMPLE of a Sinclair "High Power" station operating as a "Low Power" station (all stations are different, but I think that you will find this of interest as a typical example):

500W on the ground
30% loss up the tower to the antenna
30X multiplier for antenna vertical gain
2X multiplier for antenna pattern gain

Total this all up, and (typically) this "low power" station is achieving ~21,000W. What is interesting is that this power level is only ~4dB less than what what the FCC had originally licenced as the MAX for a UHF station going to DTV. (before Sinclair fought for and won the fight allowing maximization of power)

In short...yes, some (of our) stations are operating (short term) at low power (with FCC authorization). This will change (for most stations) when the FCC drops its "MAXIMIZATION" contour protection, and it is then (potentially) "use it or lose it". When it comes to that date, (many/most) stations will turn up the juice.

But I repeat...(as this case proves)...just because a station operates at low power does not mean that it is a Sinclair Station (I can say with confidence that most of them are NOT). And just because a station operates at (what appears to be) low power does not mean it is (based on FCC projections) TOO low of a power to properly illuminate an area with sufficient power (to allow reception) when using an outdoor high gain directional antenna (providing multipath is not the problem).

To close, WOI is not our station.

Feel free to write to:
Mr. DTV

Give it time, the person that responds to requests will be on VACA until August 18th.

Bye!

Quote:
Originally posted by jtuck2
When they turned on the power on WOI last month, after a year of excuses, it is currently broadcasting at 500W. We have received email confirmation from the station manager that this is where it will stay until the FCC forces them to do otherwise. There are people inside the target city of their "city grade" signal that can't get them with top of the line antenna.

I agree with you fred, free enterprise really doesn't much apply here. We are legally blocked from any other US source of this programming. Our only other option here is to go to ExpressVU to get our HD ABC feed. I can't handle the argument with the wife that would entail. One big a$%$ed dish on the side of the house is enough, etc, etc. Let alone another satellite bill.

Any good Sinclair stations out there?

Regards,

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My HT Room
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post #11 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 01:43 PM
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From all that I know, all of this is true. Since when is the truth BS?

Quote:
Originally posted by Flooper
"KGAN is in the process of locating a HDTV transmitter at the KCRG site near Walker, Iowa. While these facilities are being completed, KGAN is broadcasting a digital format from a low power transmitter at the Cedar Rapids tower on Collins Road.

KGAN is currently broadcasting 24 hours a day on digital channel 51 in the Cedar Rapids area. This signal has a standard aspect ratio the same size as you see on a regular television set. This means you will see gray borders on the sides of your screen when viewing on an HDTV set.

We continue to work toward putting our HDTV infrastructure in place. We will be moving to the HDTV format as soon as we can."

Regards,

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post #12 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 01:49 PM
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This would be a good move IMHO. In addition to "high power", a major provision of the bill requires CE manufacturers include DTV receivers in cable 'plug and play' devices.

Couple to this to the adoption of a meaningful labeling regime and mandated minimum performance standards (for OTA DTV receivers) and DTV is off to the races ;-)

My name will be there!

Quote:
Originally posted by Gear
4. Support Congressmen Rick Boucher and Lee Terry's bill that would force broadcasters to full power.

leeterry.house.gov/News.asp?FormMode=Detail&ID=148
(you have to add the header to this URL, I can't seem to get past my fifth post here and can't add urls to my post)

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post #13 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 01:56 PM
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MisterDTV,

Do you have any info on the Nashville stations? Fox, WB and UPN are all controlled by Sinclair in our market. With Fox announcing that they will do HD and WB and UPN already doing some HD, it would be great if Sinclair would pass along HD to its viewers in Nashville.

Thanks,

Alex
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post #14 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 02:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by foxeng
They have been under the spotlight for over a year and they aren't squirming yet.
foxeng,
This is why I proposed taking away the analog license of stations that refuse to follow the digital transition plan in good faith. Have you ever read some of the supporting documents on Sinclair's requests for extentions? If these stations aren't going to use their allotments take 'em away and give them to somebody who will.

HDC
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post #15 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 02:37 PM
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KDNL in St. Louis is operating full power with HDTV pass through and is Sinclair. Sinclair did not necessarily pay for/support all the local stations efforts, but they didn't stop it either.

In short, it is a combination of local stations ingenuity, effort, and will - coupled with the corporate backing. Maybe if Sinclair provided some fund assistance, and technical guidance, the local stations could achieve the objective.

I don't necessarily support Sinclair and have been frustrated with them in the past. But if St. Louis (and I believe Oakland - or somewhere near there) are any indication, Sinclair stations can and will go full power with HDTV.

<.02 cents> - Trying to get a corporate to 'update' every single one of their stations to full power with HDTV is a joke. It doesn't matter who or what, it is too much money and effort and will never succeed. Go local, find someone at the local station that supports you and work from there. If the local station doesn't support you, it doesn't matter if the corporate body is Sinclair, Tribune, Belo, or anyone else. /<.02 cents>

Chris

Hmmm....
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post #16 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 02:51 PM
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Here in Madison the only station owned by Sinclair is wmsn fox 47. Broadcasting in digital, but not broadcasting foxwidescreen or DD 5.1.....

ABC,NBC,CBS all broadcast HD here.....guess im lucky!

UPN is a subchannel, no HD and WB doesnt broadcast digital at all yet.


-j
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post #17 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 03:03 PM
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Here in Richmond VA we have WRLH (Fox) owned and operated by Sinclair.

They are broadcasting at low power a 480i signal that is received with an analog antenna, then converted digitally (at the tower site) and retransmitted. It has color issues as well as shadow issues. It is virtually unwatchable to those few who can receive it.

Get with the program! Be a leader, not a follower!

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post #18 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 03:29 PM
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This does help a lot! I am serious.

I will say that corporate is NOT against HDTV. It comes down to a question of "the business". Convince the local market manager that s/he 'needs' HDTV, and have a few of his paying customers (the folks advertising and allowing you to potentially get "free" HDTV) ask the question "When you guys goin' to have some of that thar H.D.T.V. stuff?", and watch the local tenacity kick in...

It also helps (to some degree) having someone at corporate needle away about the rest of the world goin' HD...

;-)

Quote:
Originally posted by BudShark
<.02 cents> - Trying to get a corporate to 'update' every single one of their stations to full power with HDTV is a joke. It doesn't matter who or what, it is too much money and effort and will never succeed. Go local, find someone at the local station that supports you and work from there. If the local station doesn't support you, it doesn't matter if the corporate body is Sinclair, Tribune, Belo, or anyone else. /<.02 cents>

Chris

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post #19 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 03:33 PM
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Sacramento, actually.

PS

I think that it now takes two hands to count on my fingers the number of high power HDTV stations we have on the air. Now, that's not all of the stations, but you have to agree that's progress!

Quote:
Originally posted by BudShark
I don't necessarily support Sinclair and have been frustrated with them in the past. But if St. Louis (and I believe Oakland - or somewhere near there) are any indication, Sinclair stations can and will go full power with HDTV.
Chris

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post #20 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 05:15 PM
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Mark,

Would you be able to tell us how the issues of HDTV pass through and higher power DTV did at the recent budget meeting for the upcoming fiscal year? I seem to remember that there was an effort to settle on a common HDTV equipment roster for the various stations nationwide.

Now that Fox has committed to 720p by 2004 many more of your stations will have HDTV content from their networks.:D

Jim

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post #21 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 05:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by HDTVChallenged
foxeng,
This is why I proposed taking away the analog license of stations that refuse to follow the digital transition plan in good faith. Have you ever read some of the supporting documents on Sinclair's requests for extentions? If these stations aren't going to use their allotments take 'em away and give them to somebody who will.

HDC
If you are going to reference FCC documents of Sinclair, I would suggest you look at some others too. You might find them even more unbelievable. There was one station that wanted an extension since the owner of the station had died and his wife didn't know anything about the business and she didn't want to buy anything she didn't understand.

FCC threw that one out and the station was admonished. If you are going to hack at Sinclair, you need to look at some others too since they make Sinclair look good.

All opinions expressed (unless otherwise noted) are the posters and NOT the posters employers. The poster in NO WAY is/will speak for his employers.
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post #22 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 05:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by foxeng
FCC threw that one out and the station was admonished. If you are going to hack at Sinclair, you need to look at some others too since they make Sinclair look good.
Oh ... I admit they are *really good* at writing those docs ... which was my whole point ;)

HDC
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post #23 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 05:56 PM
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foxeng,

I don't think the kneejerk calls to "pull their license" or "fine 'em a hell of a lot of money" would really achieve the desired ends. Both of these oft-proposed courses of action would disenfranchise analog over the air viewers far earlier than any proposed implementation of the 2006, 85% rule.

At the same time, to let some stations shirk their obligations indefinately would make a mockery of the rules behind the digital transition. I propose that those stations that do not broadcast a digital signal of adequate quality and strength would lose their local market exclusivity for digital broadcasting until they do provide such a signal.

Obviously this is a rather heavyhanded government reaction to a perceived problem. At the same time, local television is not a true market activity. Local affiliation agreements pre-dating the era of cable and satellite have established a patchwork of "mini-monopolies". If my local CBS station sucks, I may not be able to receive a different CBS station that passes through CBS's HDTV and 5.1 unless I am fortunate enough to live somewhere like between Baltimore and Washington, DC.

Under my proposal if the local station wants to regain its local market exclusivity, all it has to do is power up its DTV signal and pass through network HD programming if offered. If there really aren't enough local HDTV viewers to worry about, then the station shouldn't mind if that paltry number of viewers gets their programming elsewhere. This solution is simple enough that I'm sure the FCC and Congress will never adopt it.;)

Jim

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post #24 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 06:07 PM
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A little history history lesson regarding Sinclair and the digital transition. Excerpted from "HDTV, ETC" magazine.
Quote:
… Despite these sponsorship deals, there was still a great deal of broadcaster grumbling. They liked the free spectrum, thank you very much. They just didn't want to use it for HDTV.
Sinclair… decided the best delaying tactic was to challenge the underlying technology of the ATSC standard – 8-VSB modulation. In mid 1999 Sinclair asked the FCC to reconsider 8-VSB and allow broadcasting COFDM instead.
On September 30 the FCC “recommended†that the 8-VSB standard be retained.
Instead of discouraging Sinclair or its allies this report emboldened them. Between lawsuits, new testing, adoption hearings, et al., pushing this COFDM thing could delay expensive HDTV implementation for years to come. So on October 11, Sinclair … officially petitioned the FCC to revise the standard….
By the summer of 2000, Congress was hopping mad. House telecommunications Subcommitte Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-LA) told the parties to get their acts together – or else face strict government mandates.
The FCC got the message. On January 19, 2001, they reaffirmed 8-VSB once and for all.
I guess we are to believe those responsible no longer work at Sinclair corporate.
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post #25 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 06:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by JimboG
This solution is simple enough that I'm sure the FCC and Congress will never adopt it.;)
I still like my idea better ... heavyhanded ... yes, but I'm in a take no prisoners mood these days ... time to shake up the pot ... dragging this out forever will do nobody any good in the long run ... just rip that band-aid off and get it overwith.

HDC

PS: I'm not kneejerking ... I actually though about this for quite a while :D
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post #26 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 06:15 PM
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That is crap, and YES, I still work "at corporate"...

Quote:
Originally posted by Cruzer
A little history history lesson regarding Sinclair and the digital transition. Excerpted from "HDTV, ETC" magazine.


I guess we are to believe those responsible no longer work at Sinclair corporate.

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post #27 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 08:09 PM
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What exactly is crap about it, MisterDTV?
Sinclair DID do its best to halt the current DTV standard, and probably delayed everything by 16-18 months with their tactics.
The lawyers fees alone probably (not to mention the cost of the "studies" conducted in Baltimore and elsewhere) could have enabled them to go full power DTV on at least a few of their stations.
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post #28 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 08:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by JimboG
foxeng,

I don't think the kneejerk calls to "pull their license" or "fine 'em a hell of a lot of money" would really achieve the desired ends. Both of these oft-proposed courses of action would disenfranchise analog over the air viewers far earlier than any proposed implementation of the 2006, 85% rule.
You are very correct. If you want to ruin a whole industry, that is a great way to do it.

Quote:
At the same time, to let some stations shirk their obligations indefinately would make a mockery of the rules behind the digital transition. I propose that those stations that do not broadcast a digital signal of adequate quality and strength would lose their local market exclusivity for digital broadcasting until they do provide such a signal.


This is also true. One thing you have to keep in mind, no matter what your feelings are toward this FCC (it changes every Presidential Administration), the procedure that has been followed here, is well within past precedence. The old saying that government wheels turn slow comes from reality. Those of us who have been dealing with the FCC, this is hardly new or slow for them. This is business as normal and has been since the FCC was created from the Dept of Commerce in 1935. You as the consumer never see or deal with it so you have no idea how much time goes by before things happen. Nothing happens quickly when the Federal government is involved. Same is true with the FCC. Just another day at the office for us broadcasters. That is why 3 years to power up seems close to us and far for you. We know at what speed things run and how the FCC reacts to time. By the time all the paperwork would cross to have an earlier date, the original one would be here. I do think that there will be some speed up of full power when this 2nd Review is over, but it will not be as wide sweeping like a lot folk on here want. I have no inside knowledge, but just a gut feeling after seeing what is going on in the industry and at the FCC. But I have been wrong before and I suspect I will again sometime.

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Obviously this is a rather heavyhanded government reaction to a perceived problem. At the same time, local television is not a true market activity. Local affiliation agreements pre-dating the era of cable and satellite have established a patchwork of "mini-monopolies". If my local CBS station sucks, I may not be able to receive a different CBS station that passes through CBS's HDTV and 5.1 unless I am fortunate enough to live somewhere like between Baltimore and Washington, DC.
This is true too, but again, so is the protection of anti-trust law that only MLB enjoys. Now that is a crime! It is free enterprise for both and that is how things have evolved.

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Under my proposal if the local station wants to regain its local market exclusivity, all it has to do is power up its DTV signal and pass through network HD programming if offered. If there really aren't enough local HDTV viewers to worry about, then the station shouldn't mind if that paltry number of viewers gets their programming elsewhere. This solution is simple enough that I'm sure the FCC and Congress will never adopt it.;)
I am sure some lawyer could find something not constitutional with it. You are right, it will never see the light of day.

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post #29 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 11:39 PM
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I don't give a fat rats behind whose fault it is that HDTV transmission is in such a supposedly sorry state. I am sure that their is enough blame to go around to all concerned.
The point of this thread is about Sinclair's lack of commitment to HDTV or even digital. I live in a market where the ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS stations all broadcast in HDTV. The local FOX station is owned by Sinclair and of course they only send out the weakest digital signal they can legally get away with.
I talked to the station engineer today and assured me he has begged and pleaded with the high mucky mucks at Sinclair about sending out a stronger signal and passing the Fox widescreen to viewers. He said he gets a constant stream of denial from everyone at corporate.
The truth is Sinclair management will not do a thing to improve quality unless forced to.
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post #30 of 269 Old 08-06-2003, 11:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by foxeng
I am sure some lawyer could find something not constitutional with it. You are right, it will never see the light of day. [/b]
I think the exclusivity rights only apply to *network* contracts ... (could be wrong).

How about a compromise .... let the offenders stay on the air, but, force them to drop their analog power to the equivelent that they are transmitting on their digital channel.

HDC

PS: As for "ruining the industry," many would say we past that point long ago before DTV was even a glimmer in somebody's eye ;)

Face it, broadcasters had a unique opportunity to reclaim ground they lost to cable - and they squandered their chances. Even the so-called "flawed 8-VSB standard," is far superior than anything that has been deployed to date.
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