My prediction…

I'm a DTV Deputy!

On February 17, 2009 all full-power broadcast television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting on analog airwaves and begin broadcasting only in digital. Digital broadcasting will allow stations to offer improved picture and sound quality and additional channels.

My prediction, should you care, is this will be the beginning of the end of over-the-air Television.

Oh, sure, I’ve seen Digital TV. I have one. I have it connected to a full-sized, rotating antenna. It takes that much to get it to work.

When next February rolls around, it’s going to become apparent that the majority of people use either cable or satellite to receive their television and just don’t care. They might even have DTV-capable TVs, but nothing will change for them. The few who don’t and still get their TV over the air, will either be caught off guard, have bought converters or have DTV-ready sets. Of those who have the boxes or DTV-ready sets, many of them living in fringe areas will be disappointed by the digital signals.

But despite all the outcry, those who lose their signals won’t be a big enough number to change a thing. It will very rapidly become apparent that the expense of large transmitters and the electric bill to keep them going, is immaterial. Any local TV stations that survive, will simply pipe their signal straight to the cable and satellite companies. My prediction, within 10 years, most on-air television will vanish.

Of course, if you look at the business model of cable and satellite TV, this is good news. They’d much rather have you use their services to get TV and they’d much rather have you paying by the month to get it. Giving it away fro free is just wrong, and they’ll be glad that the FCC killed off OTA TV.

Posted in Rants, Tech Stuff, TV
3 comments on “My prediction…
  1. Frank Gritz says:

    I’m one of those who do not have Cable or Satellite. This is not by choice but by need. Financially I can not afford cable and have other luxuries I like and living expenses. So this affects me personally.

    What really gets me is they make us go buy these boxes for the TVs that were made before this idea came out or buy a whole new TV altogether. They offer coupons if you ask to get a free converter box but the coupon is for 40 bucks and all the decent converter boxes are 50 bucks or more. The ones for 40 are programmed to NOT allow Canadian Digital signals, if you want Canadian Digital you gotta pay more, and since I watch a lot of canadian networks, I opted for the more expensive. So with 2 TVs in the house, that is 20+ bucks there. Of course to make them work you need better antennas than standard so I had to buy 2 new antennas, out of pocket and good antennas run 30-50 bucks.

    After hooking if up, I come to find that the quality of the picture is better, but only if you get the signal 100% efficiently. If it is not, the converter box blacks out the entire picture and negates sound. So its an all or nothing deal. Which means if its cloudy, its a crap shoot if you can watch Seinfeld. Before you might have to deal with a bit of fuzz but you could still hear it and behind a few lines of static you can watch the show. Not a bad deal for being free. However now that I shucked out over 100 bucks on the boxes and antennas, I expect there to be some serious improvement by February. Because as of right now, I do not get in all the channels in digital that I do in standard. And even some of the channels I get in digital black out every few seconds and aren’t even worth watching.

    I hate this idea and its stupid. It is not improving television one bit.

  2. I haven’t used a set-top-box, although I have researched some of them. I may pick one up for my set downstairs because I always like to be able to use the antenna at times or in case the cable/dish fails.

    For instance, I’m without the dish right now because I had my roof reroofed. It won’t be until the end of the month before they can get a service truck here to fix it (At $50 cost.) and I don’t have a ladder tall enough to do it myself.

    I’m watching a lot of Netflix movies delivered over the internet and catching shows I would normally record on DVR from the internet. I finally got a CAT5 run to the bedroom TV and have the Atom computer there.

    But back to OTA Digital – you’re right, the signal is all or nothing. No warning, it just drops out. I have a rotatable antenna, but you can’t even aim the antenna because there is no gradual change in signal appearance to fine tune it with. Once the analog channels are gone, how will anyone aim an antenna?

    And that begets another question. Will the digital stations improve once the analog transmitters are gone and the stations can devote all their attention to them? Are they at lower spots, temporarily on their towers until the analog signals are gone? Remember, that just because a DTV station has a channel number the same as their analog parent, doesn’t mean they aren’t on another widely different frequency, even UHF. The numbers are arbitrary and assigned in the digital signal, not frequency like the analog channels.

    This is all part of the reason I feel OTA TV is doomed and that eventually consumers will throw their hands up and just resign themselves to paying to receive TV that they should get free. We ‘pay’ to watch by sitting through all the advertisements (close to 30% of the time) but they want us to pay even more.

    It’s interesting to note that WIVB has been dropped from Time-Warner because their negotiations broke down over how much T-W charges to carry their channels. That’s wrong too. Part of the deal for cable operators (years ago) to come into an area was to carry – for free – the local channels, as a public service. The cable companies then started putting in their own commercials to make money off that, at the expense of the local stations’ advertising. Then through governmental deregulation, it became less-regulated and basically a free-for-all to get on the cable systems. Whether the cable company charges the station or the station charges the cable operator to carry their programming is largely a matter of customer demand. The local station is at a disadvantage because if the customers want say CBS programming, the cable operator will just threaten to carry another CBS affiliate from somewhere else.

    Let’s face it, as consumers, we’re all screwed. We are just viewed as cash cows for big business to milk dry until the whole economy collapses. Which may not be far off.

  3. I found a video on U-Toob about how to make a home-made antenna for DTV. It’s a version of an antenna known as a “Bow-Tie” antenna. You’ll see why when you see it. While the construction techniques used are somewhat suspect, it is a simple, effective antenna. Will it fix your reception? Well, it’s better than the amplified rabbit-ears they replace in the video, but I doubt it would be enough where I live. You be the judge…

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