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I'm surprised that this hasn't been discussed here. From the Broadcasting & Cable Magazine website:

Quote:
White House Disses DTV Subsidy


by John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 10/21/2004 4:11:00 PM


The White House said it would rather light a fire under broadcasters with an analog-spectrum fee than create a fund to buy digital converter boxes for those who might be left out in the transition.


That message came in a letter to Hill conferees on a wide ranging national security bill that includes provisions for speeding the return of a particular swath of analog TV spectrum (ch. 62-69) for emergency communications use.


The FCC has suggested that one way for the government to speed the transition to DTV is to subsidize DTV converter boxes for those still without DTV sets or cable/satellite hookups when the government starts reclaiming the analog spectrum.


The Bush administration last year proposed a $500 million tax on broadcasters who had not converted by the beginning of 2007, but it was declared DOA by powerful members of Congress.


In a letter to Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Me.) Monday, the White House reiterated that call in opposing a "Digital Transition Consumer Assistance Fund" in the bill, saying: Creating a billion dollar fund to subsidize consumer electronics such as digital converter boxes, high definition televisions, and the installation of cable and satellite services is not necessary to achieve the 9/11 Commission's recommendations. The Administration has proposed an analog spectrum fee on broadcasters to encourage faster return of analog TV spectrum. This proposal would facilitate public safety access to spectrum in a timely fashion without generating budgetary costs."


But even if it did speed the return, that would not not address the issue of those who can't receive a digital signal, either over the air or via cable or satellite, when that return happens.
While I certainly don't expect that anyone's vote will be changed by the two candidates' stands on the DTV transition (mine certainly won't), it is interesting to note the difference between Bush and Kerry on this issue. The Kerry campaign's previous statements on this issue suggest that Kerry would embrace the proposals from Michael Powell and John McCain to expedite the digital transition with some sort of subsidy for DTV tuners (at least for the poor) combined with a hard transition date.


Now let's please NOT use this thread for the standard partisan rants that we hear about either Bush or Kerry.
 

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It doesn't seem that partisan. I'm in favor of both plans, both a consumer STB subsidy and an ever increasing tax on the analog spectrum.


- Tom
 

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There won't be a need to subsidize DTV boxes. Its just a chip, it doesn't even have moving parts. I can get a $39 DVD player or VCR today. The ATSC tuners will drop in price considerably in the next few years. By 2006/7 They'll be dirt cheap and the need to subsidize will be laughable.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by CycloneGT
There won't be a need to subsidize DTV boxes. Its just a chip, it doesn't even have moving parts. I can get a $39 DVD player or VCR today. The ATSC tuners will drop in price considerably in the next few years. By 2006/7 They'll be dirt cheap and the need to subsidize will be laughable.
Not necessarily. VCR's and DVD players are as cheap as they are because lots of people buy them. Very few people are buying DTV boxes. In the electronics world, you need to sell a lot of something to make it cheap.
 

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"The White House said it would rather light a fire under broadcasters with an analog-spectrum fee"


And just how does that move the transistion along, especially for those of us who converted ahead of schedule (1999) and still have few viewers?
 

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By jiggering the economics to give incentive to all broadcasters to speed up the transition and give back the spectrum. Assuming we soon have workable 5th gen STB's then if broadcasters truly wanted it done it would happen.


- Tom
 

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When House Telecommunications Committee Chairman Joe Barton -- a long-time supporter of the NAB -- made public his (very surprising) proposal for free STBs to speed the transition this summer, the White House made it plain that the Predident would NOT support such a plan.

It seems to me that last week's letter simply reconfirms that policy.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by bdfox18doe
"The White House said it would rather light a fire under broadcasters with an analog-spectrum fee"


And just how does that move the transistion along, especially for those of us who converted ahead of schedule (1999) and still have few viewers?
The broadcasters are there and will be full power before Dec 31 2006. A new "tax" on broadcasters does nothing to get the public to buy into digital (which by turning off analog before the public is ready does nothing but p*sses the public off at the broadcasters), which they clearly haven't yet. It is the public that is not moving as fast as the government wants now. Put a tax on their analog TVs. Oh right, can't do that, it is an election year! :mad:
 

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The broadcasters move in ways that reflect their own perceived self-interest. They have a fair amount of power over public opionion. And they control how they broadcast.


Given the above it is not too much of a stretch to think that if broadcasters really believed it was in their own best interest to hurry the HDTV transition then they could in turn induce the public to increasingly watch their digital channel instead of their analog channel. And they would go to greater efforts to make sure the public could see those digital channels.


There have been many examples posted on this board where it appeared the broadcasters just did not seem to care much about HDTV. Invariably it would be pointed out they had no real economic incentive yet.


So I still say we should phase the temporarily spectrum loan into a spectrum rental. It both begins a financial return on the spectrum and speeds up the return process.


- Tom
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by bdfox18doe
"The White House said it would rather light a fire under broadcasters with an analog-spectrum fee"


And just how does that move the transistion along, especially for those of us who converted ahead of schedule (1999) and still have few viewers?
And how does it help those of us that can (barely) afford a digital tuner, but cannot get a single channel either because of hills, or lack of power from the broadcaster????
 

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I still don't see how "punishing the broadcasters" for the consumers (and retailers) total lack of interest in OTA DTV is going to solve the problem.


Taking money out of the pockets of the engineers, cameramen, master control ops, writers (not the "writer$", like in Hollywood....I mean the journalism grads who write the news stories), switchboard operators, etc and forcing many of us to leave the TV business for a "real job" isn't going to help anything.


If you think that a tax on broadcasters is going to come from the profit side of the ledger, you'd better go back to school and study Economics 101.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by foxeng
The broadcasters are there and will be full power before Dec 31 2006.
That remains to be seen :D


OTOH, I agree that a tax on analog spectrum is misguided.


OTOOH, Nothing is really going to get "Couch Potato North Americanus" to take digital seriously until analog is shut off ... Further delay is not going to help that much, with the possible exception that an ATSC tuner may be "cheaper" 5 years from now.


Finally:


While it may seem a bit futile to light up a digital transmitter to serve only 5% of your viewers, it's even crazier to light up a digital transmitter and repeatedly broadcast dead-air or a 480i simulcast of the analog signal. Where is the incentive for "C.P.N.A." in that?
 

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The incentive for watching DTV is HDTV! How many broadcasters don't supply a DTV format above 480i? I have four in my location. No ABC or FOX or WB or UPN.


Broadcasters need to make it known that a better option than analog is out there. They can be overt about it by announcing they have a digital signal on such-n-such channel. Make it apparent that the analog 4x3 screen is missing some of the picture, as in cropping the 16x9 picture to get the 4x3. Let the station logo and graphics fall off the screen in 4x3 frame.


Once the J6P public sees there's more out there, demand will increase and prices for the converter boxes will tumble.


:) Actually now that I think about it, just run the NASCAR programming with some of the most important content just off the SD picture. :D Bubbas will be a clammorin' to get them HDTVs.


*** No offense meant to the bubbas in the world. :)
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by foxeng
The broadcasters are there and will be full power before Dec 31 2006. A new "tax" on broadcasters does nothing to get the public to buy into digital (which by turning off analog before the public is ready does nothing but p*sses the public off at the broadcasters), which they clearly haven't yet.
I've said a lot of my feelings about the digital transition, and (now that I have a larger antenna) I'm proud to be able to watch a (unfortunately multi-casted) NBC in HD, and soon will be able to watch FOX in HD (November or December). I'm currently able to watch CBS in HD on DirecTV, but I could lose it at any time given the current situation with SHVIA. If I'm lucky I might be able to pick up an ABC in HD one hour one night a week, or deal with WSB-TV's (ABC) HD signal out of Atlanta which cuts in and out. I have no access to UPN in HD (or digital) and I might be lucky if I pick up a fairly decent picture of WATL's analog signal in Atlanta. The speeding up of the digital transition will help me be able to see ABC in HD, UPN in HD and the WB! in HD (possibly) and CBS for when I lose it.


However, I feel that while the broadcasters (some of them anyway...) could be doing more, taxing them isn't exactly the way to go. Not to mention that if the stations do what they're supposed to (Top 100, 2005, 210, 2006, etc., etc., etc...) the stations would not be doing anything wrong at all then.


As far as the subsidies go, I think it's a "moo" point until after all the stations are broadcasting "full power". Once they do that, then start working out plans to get the spectrum back.

I'm Alan Gordon and I may or may not support this message.


~Alan
 

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$39 will just about cover the IP costs...

Quote:
Originally posted by CycloneGT
There won't be a need to subsidize DTV boxes. Its just a chip, it doesn't even have moving parts. I can get a $39 DVD player or VCR today. The ATSC tuners will drop in price considerably in the next few years. By 2006/7 They'll be dirt cheap and the need to subsidize will be laughable.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by vurbano
If there were no analog TV's or tuners to buy that would eventually solve the problem. Just my 2 cents.
Exactly! I'm still amazed that that particular problem has yet to be addressed properly...


~Alan
 

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Subsidizing the purchase of what would most likely be Chinese parts (or some other country we have a trade deficit with) would not be a good way to spend US tax dollars. On the other hand, taxing tardy broadcasters would give the government revenue, rather than remove revenue. Remember, this tax would be imposed only if they did not convert. The hold-out broadcasters all fear insufficient digital subscribers, and the holdout subscribers cite lack of broadcasters and content. It's a "which came first" kind of question regarding subs and broadcasters, but in the end it's most important for the broadcasters to switch. Appeasing them through a subsidized critical mass of digital viewers seems a little round-about to me.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by vurbano
If there were no analog TV's or tuners to buy that would eventually solve the problem. Just my 2 cents.
Agreed. Where are the warnings on those analog TVs saying they will NOT WORK without a converter after whenever the heck the analog shutoff happens? The FCC has waited WAY too long to address that side of the issue if they really want to shut off analog this decade.
 
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