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Analog to Digital Television Transition Not Going Well
Source: Adapted from news articles in various trade publications


The Telcom Act of 1996 Act laid the ground work for America's transition to digital TV broadcasting. To get it going, Congress agreed to award an additional 6 MHz channel to all full-power broadcast licensees at no cost in exchange for meeting a transition schedule spaced over several years ...a multi-billion dollar spectrum give-away.


The Act did not specify a construction schedule. In the absence of specific guidance from Congress, the FCC established a series of deadlines for DTV station completion which the National Association of Broadcasters agreed to.


ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox affiliates in the Top-10 television markets had to construct their facilities by May 1, 1999. Affiliates in TV markets 11-30 had until November 1, 1999.


All other commercial TV stations had until May 1, 2002 to broadcast a digital signal. (Non-commercial stations until May 1, 2003.) Most did not make it and the FCC is now taking a hard line approach against them.


The FCC has now issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the failures of several “Top 30" market television broadcast stations to meet the deadline to complete construction of their digital stations.


The build-out of major market stations was supposed to have been completed more than two-and-a-half years ago. Each of these stations has been granted another six month extension to get their DTV stations up and running.


The FCC then proposes a three step approach to dealing with lagging licensees should they continue not to complete construction.


1. Denial of an additional extension request to meet its DTV build-out deadline.


2. If a station has not completed construction within 6 months, a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) for forfeiture (a fine) would be issued. The station would be required to report every 30 days regarding its progress.


3. Under the final step, one year after the first step, if a station has still not completed construction, absent unusual circumstances, the construction permit would be considered to have expired.


The Commission also asks whether the vacated DTV spectrum assignment should be auctioned, so that others may put it into use. The Commission seeks comment on these sanctions by July 8.


In a separate action, the FCC has denied requests from another fifty commercial TV stations' outside the Top 100 markets for an extra six months to construct their digital-television facilities. They were issued warning letters for missing the May 1, 2002 construction deadline.


Requests from another 191 stations are still pending, and some of those are expected to be cautioned, as well. Stations can be fined or lose their licenses if they cannot justify failure to complete their digital-TV facilities.


The FCC can grant up to two six- month waivers if operators have a good reason to miss the deadline. So far, 602 of 843 waiver requests have been granted.
 

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Quote:
To get it going, Congress agreed to award an additional 6 MHz channel to all full-power broadcast licensees at no cost in exchange for meeting a transition schedule spaced over several years ...a multi-billion dollar spectrum give-away.
The requirement to meet the transition schedule at a cost of several million dollars to the station is contrary to your assessment that the license was awarded at no cost.


The 6 Mhz channel must be returned at the end of the transition, so it is not a "multi-billion dollar spectrum give-away". It is a multi-billion dollar spectrum loan.


I've posted this information many times before and I will keep posting it as long as people try to perpetuate this myth.
 

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What's that quote from Dan? "My mind is made up, so don't try and confuse me with the facts!"
 

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How much advertising revenue have the stations received using their existing frequencies, which were also given to them for no fee?
 

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Does anyone else hold the opinion that since most Americans now get their TV via cable, unless there is some Federal regulation enacted to mandate cable carriage of DTV signals, it's all a moot point? At least as far as we're concerned; we just want the evolution to HDTV to accelerate. Cable carriage is essential to that.
 

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Until the FCC mandates ATSC (or whatever the standard becomes) aboard all televisions manufactured for sale in the US, it will be tough to overcome this Chicken/Egg issue. When they did this in the early 60's for UHF in addition to VHF it opened the doors for UHF adoption. Meantime broadcasters and others have to foot incredible upfront costs for a comparatively tiny receiver base. Bleeding edge is costly for them, too.
 

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First I think it could be well discribed as an exchange of specutrem space as the space being used for anolog will be given back.


Also I think what people offten mean when they say "free" is that tv stations don't not have to compete in an auction for the space as other companies do for thiers.


As fare as the cost stations will incur for the transition to DTV - It is the simple cost of being in the business. If owners do like it they can sell and enter into different ventures. I really don't fell sorry for the majority of stations in this respect.



-tony
 

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If someone is looking for sympathy they can find it in the dictionary.


I'm just saying the practical reality is that without easy accessibility to the masses, HDTV is going to have a slow adoption curve on both ends of the broadcast.


Gotta give 'em tuners. Imagine an NTSC set without a tuner included in the deal and you see the wall that's out there.
 

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The early adopters make the decisions about which products will succeed, and what the specifics will be.


The early adopters have enthusiastically endorsed HDTV. Companies that get on the band wagon will florish; those who don't will have problems.


Within a short time, the tide will turn, wait and see.


I just went to Schrad Electronics in San Jose today to buy a special antenna to get KNTV-DT (channel 12, now NBC for the SF Bay Area). There were two large semi trucks in the parking lot, unloading antennas and accesssories, shipped directly from Channel Master. The folks in the store told me that they cannot keep up with the demand for HDTV antennas and installation accessories.
 

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No one is looking for sympathy, I just feel compelled to point out incorrect or incomplete statements presented as facts.
 

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archiguy,


Yes, other people do have the opinion that OTA is and always will be a limited venue for HDTV, and that cable will probably be the dominant delivery route. I at least am pretty un-excited about spending at least $400 for a tuner and re-mounting my antenna to the roof so that I can get 4-5 channels that occasionally broadcast some HD, most of which I'm not interested in because of the content. I'm looking forward to Comcast's takeover of ATT's cable mess and eventually being able to order a 'HD package' if they have the foresight to offer such.


M
 

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The main point is that local over the air channels are free. Local over cable or over satellite is a waste of space.


I imagine that the cable operators will charge a premium for HDTV local channels, in order to pay for all the new equipment they will need to offer the service.:p
 

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Just remember.....

The broadcasters would just as soon turn off one or the other transmitter....running both analog and digital costs a fortune.


We'd be happy to run just the digital, IF people were watching it. So, the extra spectrum is actually being loaned to all those viewers who still want their ANALOG. Not being loaned (or "given") to the stations!
 

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If I turn off the analog transmitter, we save $6000 per month.

If I turn off the digital transmitter, we save $9000 per month..


Of course, the digital has a looonng way to before it provides the income

the analog does!


"TV is just bad radio with pictures"..unknown...
 

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Bob,

It's curious to this layman why the digital transmitter costs a third more to operate than the analog; one would think that it would be cheaper to send out a bunch of "ones and zeroes" instead of the whole analog curve. That's probably an incredibly stupid statement, but then I did confess to being a layman!


And since ya'll just mirror the analog broadcast with the digital, then wouldn't the advertising income be the same? (yes, I know you're operating two transmitters, but the content is identical.)


And finally, you guys don't do HDTV anyway! Not your fault of course; we all hope that FAUX will eventually get with the program...maybe when Murdock, like Castro, has the decency to croak...
 

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With 15 of 16 DTV stations running at about 50kW EARP each I can give you some projected (rough) numbers.


All transmitters are UHF.


Based on 18 hrs/day operation of both

Analog Plants (14 are 30Kw Comark transmitters, 1 is a 60 kW Comark, 1 is a 60 kW Harris)All IOT Power bill About $375,000 per year.


DTV plants:


15 Harris Diamond CD Solid State (UHF) 5kW transmitters running at about 3.5 kW out. $125,000 to $150,000 per year.



You do the math
 

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Recall also that the spectrum taken back was to be sold off for other wireless applications. I can think of at least a few companies that would love to grab that space up.
 

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And meanwhile I see that Toshiba just announced it's latest STB. Mind you it's another one thats got an MSRP of 799.00. When the hell are people going to realize without built in or standalone 150.00 tuners and/or cable tv coverage (primarily the latter) that it doesnt matter whether these stations are in large measure even on air or not. We've had at least 3 years worth of research in the big markets to now know this.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Zyg
The main point is that local over the air channels are free. Local over cable or over satellite is a waste of space.
Maybe, if you live in a part of the country with no mountains and no high buildings. But if you live in the West, in, say, Los Angeles, the chances of getting a clean shot at Mt. Wilson vary greatly. In many areas of greater L.A., you can't get any over the air signals at all. And in many other areas, the reception is spotty at best. The only ways to get any television reception in much of Southern California are cable and satellite.


Besides, if you read enough of the posts here, it's clear that even in areas that shouldn't be, shall we say, reception impaired, the ability to receive digital transmissions varies widely, certainly enough that for the average viewer, the prospect of putting up an antenna (which he/she probably doesn't use now anyway) and having it perfectly aimed is a pain in the neck they simply don't want to put up with. Not when they can plug in a cable box and turn the TV on. Lack of cable (and satellite, but more significantly cable) carriage is the single largest factor impeding the acceptance of digital television.
 

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Quote:
Besides, if you read enough of the posts here, it's clear that even in areas that shouldn't be, shall we say, reception impaired, the ability to receive digital transmissions varies widely, certainly enough that for the average viewer, the prospect of putting up an antenna (which he/ she probably doesn't use now anyway) and having it perfectly aimed is a pain in the neck they simply don't want to put up with. Not when they can plug in a cable box and turn the TV on. Lack of cable (and satellite, but more significantly cable) carriage is the single largest factor impeding the acceptance of digital television.
The above statement sums up my own feelings rather precisely, and should be placed upon a bronze plaque for all who enter here.


I live in a flat area, only a few miles from most towers, have no close tall buildings, and have a remote controlled roof top rotor antenna which I absolutely detest.


In spite of my trees I can usually get all six or 7 local DTV stations, even when they are running at reduced power because folks are still advertisng on analog. But I would still be willing to pay extra for the convenience of consistant local stations on cable, not to mention HBO, Showtime, Discovery, PPV, and the huge number that will quickly follow once the cable systems support it with real customers.


- Tom
 
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