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post #1 of 4859 Old 12-18-2003, 04:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Since the other Portland thread is almost exclusively about OTA issues, I thought it would be nice to start a thread just for those of us using CATV.
I've had the Comcast HD service since the recent roll-out and have been satisfied with the quality but dissappointed with the tiny channel selection offered (all in the 700's BTW). I'm using the Mot 5100 box they provided and viewing through an Infocus projector on to a 100" Stewart screen. The INHD channels seem to have the best quality picture, and I'm not sure why that is. I really wish Discovery HD was available, and the ability to subscribe to just HBO-HD or Showtime-HD (without the whole HBO or ST package) would be nice. Hopefully, Comcast can make some deals to offer more before too long.
Some of us have noticed problems getting our boxes to lock into the HD channels, but can force them in by switching back and forth among channels. Weird bug, but seems to happen less than it did when I first got the box. What are you others experiencing?

EDIT: As recommended, I added satellite to the subject since there seems to be a lot of discussion about HD experiences with VOOM and the like.
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post #2 of 4859 Old 12-19-2003, 03:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, I guess folks thought the other thread was good enough. For me it has too much OTA stuff and I hate to have weed through it every time. Hence, I will no longer be participating over there.
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post #3 of 4859 Old 12-20-2003, 12:04 PM
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vince2 ... don't be discouraged, it looked like there was only one person on the OTA PDX thread that didn't like the idea of you starting the new thread. I had suggested it before for the same reason you pointed out (having to wade through the OTA stuff to find an occasional Comcast post). So let's get this started and it will either survive or it won't! I know that for the Seattle people it works very well having two separate threads ... and the Comcast one is actually quite a bit more active (although, I must admit, largely because of the participation of a knowledgeable Comcast CSR).

I'm actually away from town this weekend, so I'm not able to see if we've added any new stations since KGW/NBC (708) was added a week or so ago. I'm hoping that we'll be getting KOIN/CBS before the Super Bowl, especially now that Viacom and Comcast have an agreement. I understand that Viacom does not own KOIN, but hopefully the momentum of other Comcast markets getting CBS will help with our local situation!?!? Am I correct from reading the recent OTA PDX posts that our local FOX and UPN (12 & 13) affiliates are NOT even broadcasting OTA in HD (or 480-widescreen, in the case of FOX)? If that's the case, then I guess (by definition) there's no way we'll be getting those on Comcast until they're broadcasting OTA. I was hopeful that we'd be getting those soon via Comcast, since Seattle Comcast just added their FOX and UPN affiliates. Oh well.

As for quality, I'm very happy with the picture quality that I'm getting with my Comcast HD (Moto 5100). I'm using a InFocus X1 on a 110" DIY screen and I think that it looks fantastic! Of cousre, the X1 can't even do "true" HD, but it looks pretty dang amazing to me. I'm not a big fan of the 5100 box ... seems a little slow and the non-HD stations don't seem as clear as they should be (which I believe is a common complaint about the 5100). I also don't like the lack of a serial connection for using with my TiVo (to change stations - hate using the IR blaster!), so I've stopped even trying to use my TiVo. Which of course brings me to the upcoming Moto 6208 (single tuner) and 6408 (dual tuner) HD-PVR's. I've called Comcast a few times and gotten answers ranging from "it's coming in January" to "it's coming in the first quarter of '04" to "it's coming next summer" to "what's a PVR"? So we'll see ...

Sorry for rambling on so long. We'll just have to see if this PDX Comcast thread survives ...
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post #4 of 4859 Old 12-22-2003, 09:55 PM
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we have NBC now!! channel 708 just found out today. When did they add this channel? Jay will be in hd way cool.

"Guns at dawn, swords at dusk."
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post #5 of 4859 Old 12-23-2003, 10:02 AM
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Comcast is installing HD at my home in Vancouver on 12/24. I currently have a Comcast cable-modem, but have had DirecTV for several years now. I'm anxious to see how the HD looks. If it's good enough, I'll cancel my locals through DirecTV and just use Comcast. They have some pretty good deals going on right now.
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post #6 of 4859 Old 12-23-2003, 10:54 AM
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Just a side note: In January, Comcast will be doubling their cable modem speed from 1.5 Mb to 3 Mb. Sweet........

Steve
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post #7 of 4859 Old 12-24-2003, 12:53 PM
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xsrsmithx ... I had heard that they were going to be doubling the speed (download anyway) for "free" ... but I hadn't heard exactly when. So happy to hear that it will be in January.

palmerbr ... as I have posted here and on the regular Portland DTV (OTA) thread ... I am quite happy with the quality, but I don't have anything to compare to (as I wasn't able to get OTA signals). So please let us know what you think.

EricQ ... yes, we got NBC (708) on or about 12/13, as I posted on the other Portland thread. I was shocked to find it that day. I just happened to be HD-channel-surfing (doesn't take to long to surf ~7 channels!) at around 11:45pm ... and BOOM ... there was Leno in HD. It is pretty nice to finally have another network. Now if only we can get CBS in time for the Super Bowl ...
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post #8 of 4859 Old 12-27-2003, 01:08 AM
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I'll subscribe to Comcast's HDTV service when CBS and/or UPN becomes available in HD. I want to see Enterprise in HD!

BTW, where did you hear that they'll be doubling the cable internet download speeds in January? I read an article about it a few months ago, but it didn't mention any specific dates or timelines.
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post #9 of 4859 Old 12-30-2003, 04:52 PM
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Just a couple of comments: I've been using the Moto 5100 since right after I got my Hitachi 57S500 RPTV. I called Comcast after coming home from the store in the afternoon and the guy was at my house the next morning a few hours before the TV got there. I keep hearing about their bad service...

Anyway, the HD stuff has worked fine, none of the issues like I've seen the OTA guys talking about. MNF and SNF (Sunday) look great. I'd have to agree that InHD probably has the most impressive picture. My guess (without many facts) is that the ABC/ESPN football quality is lowered by converting from their 720p to my 1080i and InHD could be broadcasting in 1080i. Not to mention, the InHD shows I've watched have had some rather dramatic scenery.

And like others I'm sweating getting CBS on board so I can watch the Superbowl, I'm hopeful we'll get Enterprise in HD by next season and I'm anxiously awaiting the 6208/6408 boxes so that I can return to my TiVo/ReplayTV acquired habits.

Comcast sent out a mailing indicating a doubling of cable modem download speed to 3Mbps in 2004. Others have posted a January date. I believe I already have 2Mbps - I've measured an increase compared to the what I had before, which was consistent with 1.5Mbps. And when I got the cable modem I had 4.5Mbps until the demise of @Home, after which it was throttled to 1.5Mbps.

Edit: Whoops, should say I have a 57T500 - not much difference.
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post #10 of 4859 Old 12-30-2003, 05:23 PM
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I just looked at my 3Com cable modem's web interface and in the Operation Information section, it says the following:

Network Access: Enabled
Maximum Downstream Data Rate: 1.80 Mb/s
Maximum Upstream Data Rate: 0.26 Mb/s
Maximum Upstream Channel Burst: No Limit

Modem Capability Concatenation: Disabled
Maximum Number Of CPEs: 7
Configuration File: hsd1.5M.cfg
Baseline Privacy: Enabled
Registration Status: Operational

Those are the limits Comcast gave my cable modem upon getting a signal lock.

1.80 Mb/s = 225 KB/s
0.26 Mb/s = 32.5 KB/s
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post #11 of 4859 Old 12-30-2003, 05:33 PM
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Quote:


Originally posted by ZXTT
...And when I got the cable modem I had 4.5Mbps until the demise of @Home, after which it was throttled to 1.5Mbps.

I did as well.
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post #12 of 4859 Old 12-31-2003, 12:08 PM
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Quote:


Originally posted by Game Master 128
Maximum Downstream Data Rate: 1.80 Mb/s

Yes, that is probably more like it than the 2Mb I claimed before. I use Newsbin Pro to download binaries from newsgroups and it allows multiple streams, so I can max out the bandwidth. It has a handy throughput meter. I was getting in the 1.3x Mb range - now it's in the 1.6x Mb range. That would seem to agree with 1.8 Mb/s.
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post #13 of 4859 Old 12-31-2003, 01:46 PM
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This should be of interest to you Portland guys because Emmis owns your local KOIN station (excerpted from multichannel news):

Quote:


Cox, Emmis in Omaha HD Dispute


By Linda Moss -- Multichannel News, 12/31/2003

In a spat between a distributor and programmer that wasn't resolved, CBS affiliate KMTV in Omaha, Neb., planned to pull its HDTV signal from Cox Communications Inc.'s system in that market.

The station, owned by Emmis Communications Corp., is seeking compensation from the cable operator for its HDTV signal. Without that feed, Cox subscribers in that DMA will not be able to view the Super Bowl in HDTV.

The two parties have been negotiating for nearly one year over carriage of the station's HDTV signal. The broadcaster wants to be compensated by Cox, which is refusing.

"We have not resolved it, and we have every intention of withdrawing permission for them to carry our HD signal [effective Dec. 31]," KMTV general manager Jim McKernan said.

"The issue is compensation, and we're not going to compromise on that," he added. "Our feeling is that after a $3 million investment to build a digital-broadcasting facility in Omaha, with more expense to come from the standpoint of being able to originate local programming in high-definition, we should be compensated for that."

Cox's position is that it offers a tier of 10 HD networks free-of-charge to its digital customers and, therefore, it should not have to compensate KMTV or anyone else for their HD signals.

"Our position is that it's just ridiculous for us to be charged an extra fee when we help to deliver their signal," Cox spokesman Bobby Amirshahi said, adding that Cox has long-term deals with all of the other HD providers in Omaha and it is not paying any of them.

KMTV doesn't buy Cox's argument. Cox has been running a promotional campaign that is "basically using ABC, CBS and NBC programming as the hook for them to upsell people to their digital tier," according to McKernan.

"For them to say they're not profiting from that is ludicrous," he added. "For us to be used as a hook with no compensation is just a position that we cannot agree with."

EDIT: Here is a link to the Emmis website. Because the Emmis corporate HQ is where these policy and negotiating stances are taken, this would be where you would want to direct your opinion (as opposed to the local station's personnel, who really have no say over this type of issue).

http://www.emmis.com/portfolio/tv.aspx
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post #14 of 4859 Old 12-31-2003, 02:03 PM
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Thank you for dropping in, SonomaSearcher.

I don't know how others feel, but as far as I'm concerned the stations shouldn't expect a cent from the cable company. In my case I pay $5 a month extra for the HD box and that saves me from spending hundreds up front and spending my time trying to figure out why I can't get a signal. I choose to pay the cable company to deliver the signal to me, a signal that is otherwise free OTA.

Really, I don't care if Comcast, Cox or whoever benefits from this arrangement - I don't appreciate the broadcast station trying to get cash out of my choice of delivery, because in the end, that cost will have to passed on to me.
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post #15 of 4859 Old 01-01-2004, 12:04 AM
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Okay, I shot off an angry email to them.
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post #16 of 4859 Old 01-03-2004, 02:19 PM
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I told them I was angry. I hope I didn't angry.

C'mon guys, we need more hand-crafted emails to them. Tell 'em how you feel. Be civil.
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post #17 of 4859 Old 01-03-2004, 11:19 PM
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I had Comcast install their HDTV package on Christmas Eve. The Dallas/Carolina game looked great tonight. The 720 ESPN feed looks all right - a bit better than my DirecTV signal, but not a HUGE difference like the INHD channels. I was a little miffed that they don't use a DVI cable and I can't hook an OTA antenna up to their box, but other than that the quality of the few channels I get are pretty good.

Can someone tell me something - I have a 16x9 widescreen TV and ESPNHD always fills the screen. But ABCHD doesn't that I've noticed, except for tonight during the Dallas/Carolina game (and it was real nice, not stretched to fit 16x9). If I'm watching ABCHD and it's not filling the entire screen, it's not in HD. Correct?
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post #18 of 4859 Old 01-04-2004, 08:58 AM
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Correct

"Guns at dawn, swords at dusk."
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post #19 of 4859 Old 01-05-2004, 01:53 PM
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I sent an email to Emmis today. I expressed my discontentment while maintaining civility. I'm normally not one to do such things, but c'mon. The most important televised event of the year is but a few weeks away!!!
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post #20 of 4859 Old 01-05-2004, 04:37 PM
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I sent an email to KOIN expressing my concern and discontent as well. They were very professional and responded rather promptly, although it is of course the response I don't want to hear. Anyways, I thought I would share the knowledge.



In a prompt response I was told basically that negotions between KOIN and Comcast are not progressing very quickly and that they have invested millions in DTV already. They hope that the situation will resolve.
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post #21 of 4859 Old 01-14-2004, 10:05 AM
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For whatever it's worth (and I fear not much), I just got done sending an email to both Emmis and KOIN. The thought of not having KOIN via Comcast in time for the Super Bowl is highly depressing.

I'll post any replies that I receive. I guess we'll just have to hope for the best ... but I'm not feeling very good about our chances. Anyone with "inside" insights from Comcast, KOIN, or Emmis?
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post #22 of 4859 Old 01-14-2004, 10:54 AM
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Quote:


Originally posted by marshdom
For whatever it's worth (and I fear not much), I just got done sending an email to both Emmis and KOIN. The thought of not having KOIN via Comcast in time for the Super Bowl is highly depressing.

I'll post any replies that I receive. I guess we'll just have to hope for the best ... but I'm not feeling very good about our chances. Anyone with "inside" insights from Comcast, KOIN, or Emmis?


I got a response Monday last week from David B. Lippoff, KOIN 6 TV Vice President & General Manager, after sending a message to Emmis on the weekend. It was prompt, which I appreciated.

The response was quite long and detailed. I won't post it, since I haven't asked permission, but I'll summarize his position:


1. KOIN wants to transmit more than simply the CBS HD signal on their HD channel. They want to transmit local shows. Comcast only wants to pass through the HD signal.

My Comment: It isn't clear to me how much bandwidth they would use for this and I don't know how much they get to use OTA. In my mind, I imagine a CBS HD feed being about 17-19 Mbps and then KOIN adding a 6 or so Mbps additional signal for a total of about 25 Mbps. That 25 Mbps signal is probably what Comcast is objecting to. I think Comcast should pass it all through, although it's not worth missing the HD Super Bowl over. KOIN should educate their customers and we can pressure Comcast if we want that signal.


2. Emmis/KOIN believe that it is not fair for cable companies to profit be selling the HD signal. Emmis/KOIN should be paid for the signal.

My Comment: I object to this. Comcast provides a service to their customers by making programming available conveniently. If I paid some guy to stand on my roof and adjust my antenna every time I had a signal problem, KOIN wouldn't be entitled to a dime. I view this the same way. Comcast also makes money by providing programming that isn't available OTA. That has no bearing on KOIN.

My feeling is that Emmis/KOIN is trying to charge its customers for HDTV. They have no mechanism for charging OTA customers, but they feel they can charge cable customers by claiming unfairness, in that cable companies profit by carrying their signal.

I see OTA as wholesale and cable/satellite as retail. I don't see why manufacturers should expect retailers to return some of their profit. KOIN has a wholesale price of free, supported by commercials. They need to stick to that.

If Comcast required the purchase of a higher level of service, like a digital cable package, to receive the HDTV signal I would change my position. My understanding is that Comcast, while they'd like you to upgrade the level of service, will allow the rental of an HDTV box with any package. I don't view the rental fee as unreasonable, when compared with the cost of an OTA receiver.


I've though about responding to Mr. Lippoff, but I've hesitated because I would mainly be repeating what I said in the original email to Emmis.

Finally, I don't expect any CBS HD programming soon and I'm p***ed.
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post #23 of 4859 Old 01-14-2004, 01:09 PM
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I just called Comcast over lunch today to complain about HD channels going black, which they're going to investigate for me. It may be related to weak signal strength.

Anyway, I also asked the service rep about KOIN HD coming on line, and for what it's worth, he told me they expect to have KOIN HD running within a month. I know this is probably small consolation for football fans, but it's what I was told.
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post #24 of 4859 Old 01-14-2004, 01:20 PM
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My opinion of this differs a bit. KOIN has spent gobs of money to upgrade their equipment, and is spending lots of money per month to send an HD signal out for people to receive free. They are getting nothing in return. A big money hole for them.

Comcast comes around, wants to take that signal and profit from it. I may have the details wrong, but only because the info from Comcast is misleading. I believe that in order to get any HD signal from Comcast, you have to rent their HD box, which is $5 ABOVE the regular rental cost. While this might not get them much money, they are saying to get all the HD channels, you need the digital package, which is not cheap. They will be reluctant to offer just the locals. They probably wouldn't mention that you could just get the locals for *free*. They'd say, "don't you want ESPNHD? or InHD?" or whatever channels the person would want. Of course you'd say yes.

My guess, is that if Comcast sent the signal as an ATSC signal, so that any HD tuner could tune to it (no box necessary), and if they didn't hide that fact, that KOIN would let it happen. Why should Comcast get to mislead people into purchasing a higher package, and get to profit from it.

Also, you said that "KOIN wants to transmit more than simply the CBS HD signal on their HD channel. They want to transmit local shows. Comcast only wants to pass through the HD signal." This means to me that maybe Comcast just wants the national CBS HD feed, not the KOIN CBS HD feed. Or that KOIN wants the ability to preempt national programming for local programming, and Comcast says no. Or that KOIN wants to do multiple subchannels during the day, but Comcast is saying "no way".

I can't believe its just KOIN that is being stubborn. They both probably are.
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post #25 of 4859 Old 01-14-2004, 01:38 PM
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Here is the response that I received from Emmis (nothing from KOIN yet). I don't feel bad about posting the response, because it is brief and seems fairly canned:

"Emmis Television has adopted a policy that, given that Comcast charges
you for our product, we have the right to be compensated by Comcast.
We continue to have conversations with local cable operators - like
Comcast - and hope to have the situation resolved soon. Thank you for
your note."

To which I couldn't help but reply:

"Thank you for your prompt reply.

By 'hope to have the situation resolved soon,' I hope you mean before the Super Bowl!?!?

While I am not an industry insider (just a lowly consumer - stuck in the middle of your feud), it seems to me that your 'Comcast charges for our product' statement is false. When I upgraded my account with Comcast to receive my locals in HD, the only increase in my monthly costs was to rent an HD-capable box for $5/month. Given that similar boxes (for over-the-air or satellite receptions) cost $500+, I think that $5 is a VERY fair rental fee (not an additional HD programming cost).

Thanks."

While I don't disagree completely with rbonzer (especially regarding Comcast trying to make people think they have to upgrade to digital cable to get the HD signals - which the don't), you can see from my response to Emmis that I think they are "less right" than Comcast in this feud. And as for Davie Mac's post ... I sure hope that "within a month" means "within THIS month" ... since the Super Bowl is on February 1st!
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post #26 of 4859 Old 01-14-2004, 01:52 PM
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I don't have cable, so I don't know the answer....

Is Comcast charging $5 for the rental of the HD box, or is it $5 MORE than the regular rental cost?
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post #27 of 4859 Old 01-14-2004, 02:02 PM
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Quote:


Originally posted by rbonzer
I don't have cable, so I don't know the answer....

Is Comcast charging $5 for the rental of the HD box, or is it $5 MORE than the regular rental cost?


They are charging $5 a month to rent a HD STB.
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post #28 of 4859 Old 01-14-2004, 02:35 PM
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I recall reading an editorial about the FCC sale of OTA HD frequencies. The cost was pretty much free, as this came on the heels of the all-digital requirement.

The editorial further said that there was no requirement that the stations actually transmit HD, and that some stations would likely break up the HD frequency into multiple sub-channels. The extra programming provided on those sub-channels would in all likelihood be infomercials.

So, the question is just what is the "local" programming that KOIN is going to be providing that they're so concerned that Comcast carry? Just how much local programming is KOIN prepared to author? I presume that KOIN is planning on selling infomercial time, who's value will be determined by the number of potential viewers. The real issue here is the number of viewers that won't buy OTA equipment because they are Comcast customers. What KOIN wants is for Comcast to either rebroadcast their infomercials or compensate them for the lowered revenues they would make otherwise.

IMO

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post #29 of 4859 Old 01-14-2004, 04:41 PM
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Quote:


Originally posted by rbonzer
My opinion of this differs a bit. KOIN has spent gobs of money to upgrade their equipment, and is spending lots of money per month to send an HD signal out for people to receive free. They are getting nothing in return. A big money hole for them.

I understand how ugly it can be to have to spend bunches of money, but this is really like any other business that is forced to upgrade their product or fail.

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Comcast comes around, wants to take that signal and profit from it. I may have the details wrong, but only because the info from Comcast is misleading. I believe that in order to get any HD signal from Comcast, you have to rent their HD box, which is $5 ABOVE the regular rental cost. While this might not get them much money, they are saying to get all the HD channels, you need the digital package, which is not cheap. They will be reluctant to offer just the locals. They probably wouldn't mention that you could just get the locals for *free*. They'd say, "don't you want ESPNHD? or InHD?" or whatever channels the person would want. Of course you'd say yes.

I already had digital cable. I now pay $5 a month extra, but for a more capable box. Comcast doesn't get these boxes for free. I suspect they've had to pay the cost up front. They've also had to upgrade their networks. KOIN isn't the only party here to spend millions to support HDTV.

Now, I've heard, as others have mentioned, that Comcast is deceptive on the "need digital cable to get HDTV" point. I don't like that and I'm not going to defend it.

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My guess, is that if Comcast sent the signal as an ATSC signal, so that any HD tuner could tune to it (no box necessary), and if they didn't hide that fact, that KOIN would let it happen. Why should Comcast get to mislead people into purchasing a higher package, and get to profit from it.

As long as we're guessing, I'd guess that Motorola and Scientific Atlanta decide what signal must be sent - they dominate the cable box industry and have been doing pretty much what they please, from what I understand.

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Also, you said that "KOIN wants to transmit more than simply the CBS HD signal on their HD channel. They want to transmit local shows. Comcast only wants to pass through the HD signal." This means to me that maybe Comcast just wants the national CBS HD feed, not the KOIN CBS HD feed. Or that KOIN wants the ability to preempt national programming for local programming, and Comcast says no. Or that KOIN wants to do multiple subchannels during the day, but Comcast is saying "no way".

I think KOIN wants to have a second channel, so that they can, say, cover weather without prempting the regular programming. I think Comcast doesn't want to give up extra bandwidth for what they view as less interesting programming. The HDTV bandwidth has been a point of contention with cable companies all along. But now they've started to realize they'd better have it, or fall behind.

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I can't believe its just KOIN that is being stubborn. They both probably are.

Well, KOIN/Emmis has a history of problems. KOIN took a long time to get on one of the satellite system because they wanted more money and Emmis is having this kind of problem with Cox and one of their stations in another city. That's three different companies that Emmis has had problems dealing with, although they probably have a point in the Cox case where I think Cox only offers HDTV on a higher tier. That's not to say Comcast is perfect, although my experience with them has been pretty good.
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post #30 of 4859 Old 01-14-2004, 04:47 PM
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Originally posted by Randi
I recall reading an editorial about the FCC sale of OTA HD frequencies. The cost was pretty much free, as this came on the heels of the all-digital requirement.

The editorial further said that there was no requirement that the stations actually transmit HD, and that some stations would likely break up the HD frequency into multiple sub-channels. The extra programming provided on those sub-channels would in all likelihood be infomercials.

So, the question is just what is the "local" programming that KOIN is going to be providing that they're so concerned that Comcast carry? Just how much local programming is KOIN prepared to author? I presume that KOIN is planning on selling infomercial time, who's value will be determined by the number of potential viewers. The real issue here is the number of viewers that won't buy OTA equipment because they are Comcast customers. What KOIN wants is for Comcast to either rebroadcast their infomercials or compensate them for the lowered revenues they would make otherwise.

IMO

It does rather seem unlikely that they'd produce 18 hours of their own programming. Perhaps they'll have local news from 4:00-7:00 or something and all-day news the next time it snows for a week, oh in about 2017 (watch, it'll happen next week now).
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