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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The rule is if 85% of the viewers in a market have the capability to see DTV the analog transmitters will be turned off in 2006. It doesn't say "if they all have 16:9 HDTV with OTA DTV tuners."


So, lets say the cable companies goes ahead with FCC Chairman Powell's request that the cable companies add "enhanced contents" or DTV programming. Suppose they decide to add your local station's DTV to its digital cable channel line-up. Now, every J6P that has digital cable has the capability to see DTV. Not HDTV, with their NTSC set, but they do have the equivalent of a tuner with DTV capabilities FOR THE VIEWING SYSTEM THEY CHOSE! By this approach, everyone on that cable system that can see that DTV channel meets the requirement of the FCC.


What do you think?


Rick
 

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I think the revenue which could be earned by auctioning off this spectrum will give the FCC reason to be very liberal with their interpretation of the 85% rule.


Considering cable companies could easily receive digital signals from the local stations and convert them to analog for their customers; and that cable and DBS probably provide the television signals for close to 85% of the country already, I would say ending analog broadcasts in 2006 is really very likely.
 

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The more I think about this, I would not be surprised to see cable companies strongly lobbying for the 2006 analog cut off.


They would then be the least expensive option for the final 15% of the public who do not have access to the digital OTA signals, bringing them millions of new customers. The analog cutoff could turn out to be a windfall for the cable companies.
 

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You're exactly right Rick. As long as 85% of the tv households have the means to see the signals (cable/DBS delivery included) thats all it takes. As far as penetration of those 2 multichannel providers into homes these days it's close to the 85% number already overall as you said, though the shutoff will go on a market by market basis. Even if the remaining 15% or so of homes that use OTA only dont buy a tuner, Oh well. The shutoff could happen anyway, at least on paper.


It also doesnt matter as long as a household with multiple tv's only has one connected to cable thats providing the local digital channels, that home still counts towards the 85%. As for the rest of the tv's, hook em up to the cable also, or buy a standalone decoder.


This is why it's so important for cable in particular (though of course DBS also) to start passing local digital channels through as they become available in a market. Because without them doing that, the analog shutoff will never happen regardless of whether all the Big 4 Networks in a market are sending out digital signals OTA or not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Dan, the DBS argument, and my cable argument, has to delivery DTV to the consumer. I think FCC won't count DBS unless there is local market DTV delivered. If he doesn't get what's in the local market, the broadcasters are going to counterargue that it doesn't count.


With that in mind, I think its time to start writing letters to the local paper asking why Cox Cable (my local company) isn't offering to carry the 5 DTV signals that are now available in our area. Never mind that only two of the stations actually have HDTV and 2 of the 5 are low power, its time to start priming the pump. Could try to use this as a local consumer education campaign. Here, as every where, most people think that digital cable = DTV.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by RickRS
Dan, the DBS argument, and my cable argument, has to delivery DTV to the consumer. I think FCC won't count DBS unless there is local market DTV delivered. If he doesn't get what's in the local market, the broadcasters are going to counterargue that it doesn't count.
No you're right. Even with DBS it has to be the local digital channels quite naturally.


The point being, for all those folks that are so worried about broadcasters squatting and thus keeping the taxpayer from reaping the billions that the analog spectrum auctions will generate, that until these other 2 entities get on board it wont make any difference. 80% of the people arent getting those digital signals (or analog for that matter) via OTA only (where available) now, nor will they even care, or be capable anyway for many many years to come if it's up to themselves. Only when digital tuners are simply standard equipment in all sets as analog tuners are now.


I wonder how many cities have the Big 4 Networks running in full power digital right now? Because in any of those if the cable co's and DBS were currently retransmitting the channels (assuming an 80% penetration rate between the 2), and say 5% of the rest of the homes had their own digital tuners, you could theoretically shut the analog transmitters off in those cities tomorrow. If the rest of the commercial stations that didnt make their deadline the other day went dark, oh well.


The only problem aside from cable and DBS not being in any hurry to carrry those channels is that instead of 5 out of 100 of the OTA only homes having digital tuners already as needed, the number is actually closer to 5 out of a 1000.
 
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