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Why Can't *I* Choose How I Want My TV Delivered?  

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I considered naming this thread "The Cable TV Industry Pisses Me Off", but thought that might be a little inflamatory... It is not my intention to initiate a flame war, but more to find a solution to my TV debacle...

I subscribed to DISH back in 1998 when we lived in a remote town called Leicester, NC, where there was essentially no hope of ever getting a cable signal and where the off-air selection was more than limited by the nearby mountains. The motivation became getting sick of following X-Files through the audio and sketchy (at the best of times) video. I was very pleased with the quality of the product delivered at the time, and very happy that I was able to watch East and West coast network affilliates. Then the butt-head cable people whined and moaned about how this practice was unfair, and they pulled the plug on my "locals". This didn't dissuade me from keeping DISH, but the increasing compression and INCREDIBLY obvious color banding in my shows DID! In 2001, we moved to Coeur d'Alene, ID (30mi east of Spokane, WA), and, being fed up with the increasingly poor quality of DISH and DISH 500, opted for Adelphia's "Digital" Cable. On the plus side I got my locals back. On the minus side, [it's cable and] the only digital channels I get are the alternative Discovery Channels (DSC CIV, WNGS, etc.). Personally, digital cable is about the biggest scam ever, and I can't wait for someone to pull the litigation trigger on that bait and switch.

So, I started thinking about DBS again, hoping beyond hope that 2000's work in Congress had increased my ability to get "local" network broadcasts. Lo and behold, I don't qualify for a single network from either DISH or DirecTV. How did the aforementioned act of Congress do anything for me? Thank you cable companies!

So, how do I "get it all"? How do I get a service that gives me lots of viewing choices and isn't compressed so much that the pay-off of digital delivery isn't completely wasted on the poor reproduction? How do I get locals in a non-fuzzy, non-expensive, non-obtrusive, non-tough-to-manage (hey, I have a wife and kids here) manner? Bearing in mind that my local ABC affiliate in Spokane is broadcasting a simulcast HD feed, how do I monopolize on that? Nothing would please me more than calling Adelphia and telling them where to stick their cable service, but I won't make any change if it isn't terribly convenient in transition and operation. Sorry for the rant; comments and advice are appreciated...
post #2 of 25
You're blaming the wrong people. It's not the cable companies' fault.

The TV networks license programming to local stations. In legal terms, these local stations are given an exclusive license to the copyrighted network programming within their broadcast area. In other words, if you want network programs, you have to get it from them.

I guess you could write the networks and ask them to quit giving exclusive territorial licenses to the local stations, so you would be free to get their programming from whatever source you like. Good luck; the networks aren't likely to shoot themselves in the head.

If you don't qualify to receive distant ocals via satellite, that means you're within the Grade B contour of that network's local station. So theoretically, you should be able to receive an "acceptable" picture, for free, with an OTA antenna, mounted no higher tham 30 ft. above ground.

The "gotcha" here is that the approximations used to compute the Grade B coverage area are a joke, and everyone knows it. It depends solely on gross approximations of signal strength, and doesn't account for localized terrain. Also, it doesn't account for multipath (ghosting), which can render both analog and digital broadcasts unwatchable. In spite of this reality, when the issue comes up at the FCC, the broadcasters oppose any attempt at devising more accurate criteria (I've read their filings with the FCC), lest it lead to more folks getting their programming from distant networks via satellite.
post #3 of 25
Barry - well stated.

Artemido - you might consider a combination of signal delivery systems. Check to see if the local cable bandit has a "lifeline" service (just the local stations, but not usually advertised), and use DBS for the "cable" channels. Or, do the same thing using the antenna and DBS system. A good OTA picture can beat the pants off the same via DBS or cable - after all, where so they get their feeds from ?

You can also put in for waivers to receive network feeds via satellite.
post #4 of 25
Quote:
The "gotcha" here is that the approximations used to compute the Grade B coverage area are a joke, and everyone knows it. It depends solely on gross approximations of signal strength, and doesn't account for localized terrain. Also, it doesn't account for multipath (ghosting), which can render both analog and digital broadcasts unwatchable. In spite of this reality, when the issue comes up at the FCC, the broadcasters oppose any attempt at devising more accurate criteria (I've read their filings with the FCC), lest it lead to more folks getting their programming from distant networks via satellite.
Prior to the availability of locals on DBS, the local stations had to prove you could actually receive the signal at your specific location before they could deny a waiver. The reason for this was that they could not force you to choose cable over DBS to get the network feed. Now that locals are available on DBS, the fact that you are in a stations grade B coverage area is sufficient to deny a waiver.
post #5 of 25
You could consider what I did to time shift local networks. I subcribe to Expressvu from Canada. I get the Seatle and Boston locals . You also get CBS,ABC, NBC, and PBS HDTV.
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
Can Americans subscribe to Express Vu? And if so, where do I go to sign up? Any hope that DISH/DirecTV will stop compressing their feeds so much that it degrades video quality grievously? If so, I'll throw off the shackles of cable TODAY!
post #7 of 25
Quote:
Originally posted by Artemido
Can Americans subscribe to Express Vu? And if so, where do I go to sign up? Any hope that DISH/DirecTV will stop compressing their feeds so much that it degrades video quality grievously? If so, I'll throw off the shackles of cable TODAY!
http://www.skyweb.ca/~freewaysupport/about.shtml#fees
post #8 of 25
You could also "move". Do a search on that topic in hte DirecTivo forum and see if it would work for you.
post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
So, what am I looking at here? Is this some kind of proxy reseller of D*/E* services that adds local programming? Are the network feeds HDTV? Is there a good way to get distant locals in HD, or is that just a pipe dream?
post #10 of 25
If you're not comfortable with lying and giving a false address, then Express Vu is not for you. The direct answer to your direct question is, no it is not legal in the U.S.
post #11 of 25
If you want the best PQ of non HD signals in areas where OTA is not possible, you need to access the source feeds - (mainly DCII) meaning 4DTV/DVB and Star Choice
post #12 of 25
Quote:
Originally posted by BarryO
The TV networks license programming to local stations. In legal terms, these local stations are given an exclusive license to the copyrighted network programming within their broadcast area. In other words, if you want network programs, you have to get it from them.
I have no problem with a network reaching an agreement with a TV station granting and limiting broadcast rights. Where I have a problem (with the law) is that that agreement is somehow binding on *me* by virtue of local geography, and continues to be binding even when the network's shows aren't involved. If the networks want to stop station B from broadcasting their shows because of an agreement with station A -- fine, that's their business. But why should I be unable to watch the local (non-network) news from my distant hometown just because it's on a channel that also carries some shows that are bound by an agreement I never signed? Why should it be against the law for me to watch a network show that's not even broadcast by my local affiliate because of a local sporting event?

It seems to me that anyone who's opposed to region coding of DVDs should be opposed to what is essentially fine-grained region coding of broadcast TV.
post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally posted by SteveGrimm


I have no problem with a network reaching an agreement with a TV station granting and limiting broadcast rights. Where I have a problem (with the law) is that that agreement is somehow binding on *me* by virtue of local geography, and continues to be binding even when the network's shows aren't involved. If the networks want to stop station B from broadcasting their shows because of an agreement with station A -- fine, that's their business. But why should I be unable to watch the local (non-network) news from my distant hometown just because it's on a channel that also carries some shows that are bound by an agreement I never signed? Why should it be against the law for me to watch a network show that's not even broadcast by my local affiliate because of a local sporting event?

It seems to me that anyone who's opposed to region coding of DVDs should be opposed to what is essentially fine-grained region coding of broadcast TV.
Although they do affect you, these laws are not aimed at you. They are intended to prevent satellite providers, cable companies and other TV stations from selling product that they do not hold the rights to. Your point about network shows that are not carried by your local affiliate is well taken. I am also annoyed by this practice, but I also realize that it is just too complicated to try to enable or black out shows on a case by case basis.
post #14 of 25
We would love to put the (otherwise blacked-out) network programming on one of our digital subchannels when we run local sports, etc., but the networks don't want to deal with it. It is an "all or nothing" situation with them!
post #15 of 25
Southern Spy,
Would you please elaborate on how you are getting OTA local channels via DCII. Please break it down by network and the equipment needed to receive each one.
Thanks,
Steve
post #16 of 25
Quote:
Originally posted by SteveC
Southern Spy,
Would you please elaborate on how you are getting OTA local channels via DCII. Please break it down by network and the equipment needed to receive each one.
Thanks,
Steve
I am not getting DCII signals OTA. I am using DCT-100 + antenna to get ATSC network stations.

I am using Motorola 922 (4DTV) + Motorola HD decoder to get HBO/ Showtime/ASCN HD in DCII. For those in areas where E2 satellite @111.1 is viewable, you can use Star Choice 401 receiver + same Motorola HD decoder to get US network HD programming in DCII. Next year F2 satellite will replace E2, so that all of North America can receive the SC HD DCII signals
post #17 of 25
Thread Starter 
So the final answer here is that there IS no way, or at least no easy, user-friendly, legal way to accomplish the task at hand. Additionally, it doesn't sound like there's much hope of DISH or DirecTV loosening up on the compression some to keep PQ high. Bah! And I really did want to kill my useless 'digital' cable box... :(
post #18 of 25
Both Dishnetwork and DirecTV have spot beam satellites up by now and their compression problem should ease over time.

But what I don't understand is what is your objective? Are you upset because of the over-compression, or your inability to legally subscribe to distant networks channels?

If the earlier, then it is a matter of poor quality TV services you have to live with, or move to an area where cable treats you well.

If the latter, find a physical address that qualifies for distant networks, you don't have to change your billing address nor phone number, in fact if you don't tell your friend you are using his address, he will never know, but it is always good to get his permission first.

DBS qualifies local channels based on your physical address, use your imagination folks.
post #19 of 25
Thread Starter 
Okay, that's good stuff... You're giving me some one-stop shopping capabilities... that's pretty nice... So, can I get HD network feeds through DISH/DirecTV if my physical address is Seattle or Portland or wherever they are broadcasting OTA HD?
post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally posted by Artemido
Okay, that's good stuff... You're giving me some one-stop shopping capabilities... that's pretty nice... So, can I get HD network feeds through DISH/DirecTV if my physical address is Seattle or Portland or wherever they are broadcasting OTA HD?
Other than CBS-HD on Dish, none of the other local or network feeds on either D* or Dish are HD. Except for some rare cities with HD cable, The only way to get locals in HD is Over-The-Air.

Tony
post #21 of 25
Thread Starter 
Okay, so not to start another debate or whatever, let's assume, for a moment, that I want to pick from DISH or DirecTV, leaving my local network HD problems to OTA or something like Starchoice/Express Vu. Fortunately, the HD problem isn't terribly pressing ATM, since I don't actually have an HD-capable set (still shopping to find the magic answer there). In any case, which provider can I rely upon for the best PQ AND HDTV capabilities? For HD, do I need to purchase the HD receiver, or can I hook a conventional receiver to an HD set top box and get the same thing? The real reason I'm curious about this is because I'd REALLY like to get the tuner with the built-in TiVo/UltimateTV/Replay/whatever. Thanks for all your direction and advice...
post #22 of 25
My above comments are based on my experience with Dishnetwork, since you prefer DirecTV, give them a call and find out if the same rules apply. Pick an address out of nowhere and find out if it qualifies for distants. Then find out the billing issues.

As far as HD content for your future needs, you can search the HDTV Programming Forum for answers.
post #23 of 25
Aren't you in the Spokane market? They should have DTV on the air soon (maybe in a few hours, if they don't have extensions :) ).
post #24 of 25
Thread Starter 
Really? Spokane is in the works as a local direct feed through DTV? I just checked their website (no idea how often it's updated), and I don't see any information regarding the Spokane market...
post #25 of 25
Quote:
Originally posted by Artemido
Really? Spokane is in the works as a local direct feed through DTV? I just checked their website (no idea how often it's updated), and I don't see any information regarding the Spokane market...
Artemido, I think you're confusing Digital TV (DTV) with DirecTV (D*). Spokane, WA has a couple DTV stations broadcasting terrestrial digital television.
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