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Television Media United States

FCC Speeds Up Digital TV Signal Deadlines 423

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the forced-upgrades dept.
sbinning writes "The FCC, in a 4-0 vote decided that all medium-sized televisions, screens between 25 and 36 inches in diagonal, must be able to receive both digital and traditional analog signals by March 1. This is four months earlier than the commission had decreed three years ago. Now if they just mandate more intelligent programming."
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FCC Speeds Up Digital TV Signal Deadlines

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    that even governmental interference can't get it accepted, something is very wrong.
  • by leeharris100 (890639) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @08:41PM (#12775773)
    I still don't understand why the FCC feels like they need to interfere with the standards of television. Can someone please explain why this is a necessity?
    • They have to do something to justify their employment.
    • by cazbar (582875) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @08:45PM (#12775822)
      The switch of television to digital has an advantage that is very much in the interests of the FCC. When television goes digital, not as many frequences have to be reserved for television. The freed up frequences can be reserved for other purposes or even remain unregulated for anybody to use.

      Sounds like a good idea to me.

      • I agree that this is a good idea because there's only a limited amount of RF spectrum and TV eats up a big chunk that could be put to better use. What I'm concerned about is the apparent lack of options for those of us who have lots of TVs but none that are digital. I have to replace 4 TVs, even though one is virtually brand new and the others are still going strong. That doesn't count the tuners in my 3 VCRs that will be worthless too. What I'd like to see is a transverter box of some kind that I can h
        • by silentbozo (542534) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @10:16PM (#12776452) Journal
          There will be plenty of these boxes (so a local cable co-op can grab off-the-air signal to transmit to subscribers), but I'm not sure they will within the price range of most consumers. To give an example, a selective channel amp (to grab only channel 13, and insert it into a CATV multiplexer) costs about $120-$200 on eBay.

          I'm in the same boat as you, so maybe some kind soul will mass produce these things. Otherwise, you're face with buying several converter boxes, setting each one on a particular channel, and creating your own in-house CATV system. I guess a couple of houses on the block (or an apartment complex) could gang up their money, buy enough of the converters to cover local channels, have a multiplexer, and create their own CATV system...
        • by unitron (5733) on Friday June 10, 2005 @03:45AM (#12777970) Homepage Journal
          "What I'd like to see is a transverter box of some kind that I can hang off my antenna that will shift the frequencies received back into the normal TV band and convert from digital to analog (which would technically not make it a transverter, but you get my drift). Has anyone seen anything like this on the market?"

          What you're asking for is a block converter.

          In the earlier days of cable when many if not most TVs still had rotary tuners, the cable companies put channels other than 2-13 on other VHF frequencies. The cable boxes from the cable companies generally tuned one channel at a time and shifted it to VHF channel 2, 3, or 4 so that you could set your TV to that channel and then choose channels with the cable box.

          There were aftermarket devices which shifted the cable channels up to the UHF broadcast frequencies simultaneously so that you could tune them in with your television's UHF tuner. They were called block converters because they converted a block of channels up in frequency at the same time instead of one at a time. If you put a splitter on the output you could watch two different cable channels on two different televisions at the same time without needing a cable company cable box (or paying rent on it) for either set.

          It might be possible to come up with something like that for broadcast digital channels, but don't expect anything like that for cable and satellite channels. Satellite and cable companies, especially cable companies who see "cable ready" televisions and VCRs as having cost them a fortune in lost cable box rentals, aren't going to want to surrender even that much control. The cable companies can hardly wait to go completely digital and re-use a lot of the analog frequencies for other revenue opportunities.

          So whenever you hear about how great digital is going to be for the consumer what they really mean is how greater the number of opportunities for spending money the consumer will have.

      • by satanami69 (209636) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @09:21PM (#12776089) Homepage
        Quick history. When the analog space is freed and available from the conversion to digital, that space will then be auctioned off, most likely to closed bid communications companies.

        The gov is fine with this since the money is earmarked to pay off the deficit. In reality, buying an HDTV has the positive side effect of lowering the national debt. It's a very good plan, if you don't mind being used for high level money making.
    • by e9th (652576) <e9th@tup o d ex.com> on Thursday June 09, 2005 @08:47PM (#12775833)
      Well, we wouldn't have UHF stations (maybe that's good, maybe not) or closed-captioning (which I use a lot, even thought I'm not deaf) unless their inclusion in new TVs hadn't been mandated.
    • Money.

      They want to sell the signals that are currently being used for broadcasting and they are going to do so in the name of digital progress.

      Now if you don't mind I have about 300 shows to watch right now.
    • Because that is their job.

      From fcc.gov:

      The FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable.

      The FCC is charged with regulating who may broadcast and receive to and from the electromagnetic spectrum, an inherently public resource. Some of these bands they regulate more strictly than others. One of the bands they regulate strictly is the one on which television signals are broad
      • But...but..the free...free market...it...it...should be...free?

        Screw it, I'm going to Starbucks to have a triple-latte and complain about the deforestation. That's where they like...chop down trees for no reason...right?
        • Traditionally governments have become involved in situations where the free market will not act in the best interests of the country at large. While that does not happen as often as it should, in this case the FCC is doing its job.

          You wouldn't want TV over your air traffic control spectrum, or in your cell phone spectrum. Similarly you wouldn't want someone with a 3MW transmitter irradiating you. The government long ago divided up the airwaves into categories and sold chunks of it to interested parties. Th
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Because the TV stations want the FCC, in fact they demand it. They demand that you and I don't broadcast on their frequency. They want the FCC to FORCE us not to.

      In exchange for FORCING the public into following the TV broadcaster's desires the FCC also FORCES the broadcasters to follow our collective desires...

      Or did you think it was a lucky coincidence that only one person broadcasts on a TV frequency at a time in any given area?
    • Television. at least in the United States, is a huge spectrum hog. The UHF TV band used to suck up everything from 470 MHz to 890 MHz. The FCC created the 800 MHz cellular and two-way radio bands by chopping off the top of the UHF TV band.
      • by grumling (94709) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @10:24PM (#12776511) Homepage
        The FCC created the 800 MHz cellular and two-way radio bands by chopping off the top of the UHF TV band.

        And the NAB (TV station lobby) is still mad about loosing that one. Even though there never were any stations on the air above channel 70, and even though the UHF stations never made a dime until cable and the Fox Network.

        Once a business gets something from the .gov (for free in exchange for "serving the public interest" whatever that means), it becomes something they are entitled to, much like welfare. I'm not so sure modern "local" television meets the FCC requirement for free bandwidth anymore, but the day the FCC charges a broadcaster for spectrum is the day we'll all need descramblers for our televsion.

        The only reason there was so much spectrum allocated in the first place was because of RCA's influence over Washington after WWII. If the broadcast stations would have allowed some flexibility in spectrum management, this mess may have been avoided.


    • The FCC is the Federal Communications Commission. They are in charge of _everything_ that passes over the air waves. The advent of digital television will clear up many of the airwave bands.

      Its progress, you've got to have progress!
    • Because analog television is extremely wasteful of the EM spectrum. With digital, the fcc can start getting back some of the spectrum that they have leased, and it can be used for something more productive.
      • by grumling (94709) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @09:46PM (#12776264) Homepage
        Well, that's what they want you to believe. The reality is, the FCC wanted to allocate unused adjacent channels (like, if you have a channel 6 in your area, you'll also have a channel 8, but not a channel 7 -just like Springfield) for PUBLIC SERVICE, such as POLICE and FIRE radio service. The reason for the spaces was because early tuners were to wide-banded. When cable ready TVs were designed to handle adjacent channels, the rule was seen as not necessary from an engineering standpoint. So, the local broadcasters (through the NAB) went apeshit on the FCC and congress and threatened to make sure the congresspeople didn't look good on camera and would be investigated to death if 1 Hz of bandwidth was taken away from them. The FCC didn't buy it, so they said that they needed the bandwidth for HDTV. At the time, NHK in Japan was running HD programming on a 12MHz analog carrier. The NAB convinced the FCC to allow a similar, but incompatible (screw you Sony!) system for the US. The FCC said sure, but it has to work in 6MHz instead of the 12MHz of the NHK system. Several manufacturers and MIT began work on a HD video system that nobody wanted. RCA/Thompson came out with a somewhat NTSC compatible system, MIT had a variable compression/aspect ratio system, and General Instruments had a digital transport system, but the compression didn't work so good. The FCC held a bake off so each system could be evaluated. The RCA system didn't look so good, and took up several racks and required the testing center to upgrade their power. The MIT system really didn't go so well either, but they had the best idea of how it would work. the GI system worked very well, and took up one rack. MIT and GI joined forces and started seeing positive results. So the FCC made them all join forces in what became the Grand Alliance. The HD system on the air today is the result. The FCC really wants to get rid of those analog transmitters, just because they've started down this road, and they have to get to the end. The spectrum will still be going away, so that our police and fire departments will be able to communicate in a much better band, with modern comms systems.

        A really good book about the whole HDTV system is Defining Vision [amazon.com]. Visit your local library, and read more about it.

    • long answer... uh, because it is the FCCs job, and they manage all airwaves in the US per the Communications Act of 1931 and 1939, as amemded.

      besides, they want the VHF airwaves to about 180 MHz (in the neighborhood, but I'm not close to a spectrum map right now) for public service and cellphones, so to keep a live media out there with local service, considered critical for national security, they have to trade broadcasting up to channels 14 and above to approximately 49.

      it all converged, and we have HDTV
    • So, the deal is that digital TV stations use 1/5th the bandwidth of conventional analog stations. The space used by VHF (and UHF, to a lesser extent) is ideal for emergency personnel b/c those frequencies penetrate better through buildings. It's also well suited for things like WiMax. The gov't is going to auction off the freed spectrum, raising anywhere from $11B to $40B, depending on who you listen to.

      And, for those who are concerned about such things, Congress is trying to figure out how to pay for t
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Never happen.
  • Faster (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mboverload (657893) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @08:42PM (#12775783) Journal
    I hope they also mandated them to include metadata in their broadcasts.

    If you dont know digital sets are able to recieve special content like the name of the program all off the air.
  • by mconeone (765767) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @08:42PM (#12775791)
    This is going to hurt America's poor the most.
    • by viva_fourier (232973) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @08:45PM (#12775817) Journal
      Good, maybe they can get off their lazy good-for-nothin' keesters and get a job!

      Now go mow the lawn!
    • by The Salamander (56587) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @08:45PM (#12775821)
      People not being able to afford a TV can only HELP them.
    • Seriously, I doubt it. A digital tuner can be added to an existing analog tv set.
    • This is going to hurt America's poor the most.

      Yeah, once they get hooked on just how good HDTV looks, their kids will have even less reason to get off the sofa and get some exercise.

      Seriously, it is entirely reasonable to think that this requirement will actiually lower the price of televisions due to economies of scale. Once implemented, all tv's 25" and up will have digital tuners which probably means an order of magnitude more combo analog-digital tuner chipsets being produced which should lead to a
      • This has nothing to do with HDTV, but standard resolution digital signals.

        I should reiterate, since /.ers don't seem to understand this. THE FCC IS NOT MANDATING OR FORCING ANYONE TO SWITCH TO HDTV.

        A digital tuner is cheaper than an analog one. Once the analog yoke is thrown completely, it should shave a few bucks off production costs, and since there's healthy competition in the field, it should translate to lower prices on the shelves.

    • It sucks that poor people can't afford 32" TV sets.

      I make more than an average US salary, and it was a big deal for me to plop down $1,600 for my 43" HDTV a while back.

      WTF? Poor people get shit on all the time. That is what they are there for.
    • This is the same nonsense we heard when Clinton put V-Chips in every TV.

      External HDTV tuners are $50 today so what will the price be when they produce them by the millions? $20? $2?
      • Where can you get an HDTV tuner for $50? Last I checked, a few months ago, the cheapest was around $200. I'd love to get one for $50.
      • You sir are on crack. It is very rare to see any ATSC tuner on ebay for under $100, let alone any kind of mass produced set top box tuner for the $50 you speak of.

        $200 is currently the average price of such a device and will be for another year or two until more manufacturers get into it.
    • Not really. It is going to hurt the advertisers that depend on that particular demographic for income. As much as we wish to insult these people, which make up a significant percentage of the country, and who spend most of the money on goods and services, corporate Amercian would be up sht creek with a sht paddle, as the boys would say.

      Not to sound too crazy, but TV is the primary means that corporate American and the government has to communicate with the people at the lower 50% of the money chain. Whe

    • I think this will only help make digital (and HDTV's) cheaper. Right now electronics manufactures can feel justified in charging $600 and up for a decent screen sized TV because the digital/HDTV experience is considered a "premium" viewing experience.

      Once a digital tuner becomes standard and manditory, they wont be able to do this. Most people cannot justify (or even afford in most cases) these prices for TV sets. The NBC/Universals and Viacoms of the world will be leaning hard on TV makers to lower prices
    • This is going to hurt America's poor the most.

      As well as the companies that profit off of convincing America's poor to buy things they don't need via advertising.
  • Year? HDTV Info (Score:5, Informative)

    by thebatlab (468898) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @08:43PM (#12775801)
    Well, it wasn't clear from the article but from some reading I assume they mean March 1...2006. Yeah sure, may seem obvious to some but a date with no year can mean many things.

    While trying to confirm that I found an interesting page:
    http://www.hdtv.net/faq.htm [hdtv.net]

    Does anyone know the stats on how many stations are digital?
    • Somewhere around 1500 stations (almost all stations in the bigger markets) broadcast digitally as well as analog. Here in San Francisco bay area, we get CBS,ABC,NBC,PBS,WB,UPN,FOX,UNI,SAH,TEL,PAX networks and a few independants. Few know about it though.
      • One problem is that many stations are on the air, but running at low power. One local station has 4 MW ERP on their analog channel and 1 kW ERP on their digital channel.
    • Re:Year? HDTV Info (Score:4, Informative)

      by EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) * on Thursday June 09, 2005 @08:57PM (#12775906) Homepage Journal
      I also found this link at GoodGuys to be pretty informative:

      http://goodguys.com/hdtv_faq.asp [goodguys.com]

      Now, these are both Pro-DTV sites.

      What I'm also looking for are criticisms of DTV-- other then the obvious arguments about DTV being expensive.
      • I've heard about ghosting problems. [wired.com]
        That article does state that it's only a problem in big cities, and that better receivers are starting to help, though.
      • Re:Year? HDTV Info (Score:2, Insightful)

        by iminplaya (723125)
        What I'm also looking for are criticisms of DTV...

        How about all that horrible pixelation in low contrast areas of the screen because of the extreme compression being used? I'm not the least bit impressed with digital or DVDs. My old 12 inch video disks looked just as good...better to me. If you want real quality, you need a 1 inch VTR with component video out. It still makes the best picture I've seen. And it's analog. So searching rapidly through the tape is easy. Besides, DTV is expensive..., but then,
      • Re:Year? HDTV Info (Score:3, Interesting)

        by evilviper (135110)

        What I'm also looking for are criticisms of DTV-- other then the obvious arguments about DTV being expensive.

        There's not too much to criticize. Everyone knows it's an inevitable step in the right direction.

        You can complain about artifacts of digital video, but it's still better than the artifacts of analog broadcast. You can complain about the reduced broadcast range. You can complain that they didn't go further, making 1080 progressive. You can complain that they didn't choose a better codec, such

    • only some little markets, and some few stations in larger markets, do NOT have active CPs or transmitters already. most of the delay is no-money situations, probably among tiniest markets and some educational stations, and no-tower situations, because DTV antenna farms are somewhat more elaborate (heavy and wind-loading) and almost all commercial TV towers were at design limits for hanging antennas. HDTV has been a boon to tower companies, and they have been the real limiting factor in conversions among s
  • Powell's power move (Score:2, Interesting)

    by poopdeville (841677)
    The Bush administration is re-organizing its cabinet departments and Powell would make a good candidate for the deputy secretary post in the Commerce Department. However, he needs the Digital TV vote to leave the agency on a good note. The FCC's new plan would set a firm deadline of 2009. Regardless of how many residents have Digital TVs, local broadcasters would be forced to switch all signals from analog to digital. To ensure that Americans would not lose their TV signals, the federal government would la
    • by mattdm (1931) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @09:03PM (#12775950) Homepage
      In addition, Congress would likely approve subsidies for low-income residents who can not afford to buy a new set.

      I hope to goodness you're kidding. How about some subsidies for education or housing instead?
      • No, the masses "need" TV more -- at least from the perspective of the Administration. How else will the sheeple get their circus^Wentertainment and brainwas^Wnews?
      • We already have plenty of education subsidies.

        Housing subsidies are very dangerous because they create dependencies. They are also very expensive because they have to be continued year after year, potentially forever. The Section 8 rent subsidy programme is a good example of this. Worse, it bids up the price of housing for everyone else, which is just horrible.

        However, the supply of TVs is effectively unlimited, so subsidies for TVs are likely to do very little harm other than their cost. A $200 subsi
    • >>Congress would likely approve subsidies for low-income residents who can not afford to buy a new set. They could use the subsidies to either buy a new TV or get a converter box that would transfer digital signals so they could be watched on an analog set.

      Oh God, you're probably right. Just what America's poor needs -- more mind-numbing television. A quick review of over-the-air broadcasting during the hours of 9-5 (e.g. "work hours") leads me to think the poor would be better of WITHOUT television
      • > Surely I'm not the only one who believes they'd be better off if
        > the damned box went black and they were forced to pick up a
        > book

        Am I the only one who is a little disturbed by seemingly classist statements like that above? I'm reading the above as "the poor are too lazy!" They should open a book and get real jobs!

        Sure there are lazy poor people. There are also lazy middle class people and lazy rich people, too. Being poor doesn't mean someone is lazy. Sometimes it's just nearly impossible for
        • Sometimes if you're having to work two jobs the only thing you want to do when you get home is numb out in front of the TV.

          And sometimes the reason you have to work two jobs is that you spend your free time in front of a TV.

          TV is for feebs.

          Except for ... I can't think of any non-feeb TV shows.

  • by MDMurphy (208495) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @08:47PM (#12775837)
    If you believe the 90% number for cable/satellite homes, then only 10% get their TV over the air. I get mine via DirecTV, so a switch in the local stations won't affect my home TVs at all, just the little Sony LCD one I have. Cable TV doesn't have to switch over then either.

    So of the 10% getting their television over the air, I'd sure guess that a large percentage who aren't interested in cable or satellite also aren't buying new fancy TVs every couple of years. Their choices are probably going to be buy a new TV or switch to satellite or cable and continue to use their old TV.

    So is it only a portion of the 10% that would be affected when the big switch happens?
    • Their choices are probably going to be buy a new TV or switch to satellite or cable and continue to use their old TV.

      Or to get a converter box. I've been watching digital TV for well over a year now using a tuner box. There's some talk about subsidized converter boxes, but right now one can set you back $200-$400. And it's not always easy to find one, because the big box electronics stores would rather sell you a subscription to satellite TV.

    • Cable TV doesn't have to switch over then either.

      I don't think that's entirely accurate. Many people who do use cable only have the "basic" version for stuff like weather, news, some sports, and the broadcast channels (so they don't have to deal with antennae). Basic cable, for the most part, is analog. So, those with basic service would need a converter/new set, too.

    • if you hang an antenna, that is your sole limit of affectation in the 10 percent. of course, all TV is line of sight (4/3 pi radius(earth) squared tower_height is the equation for how fast somebody goes out of sight of the antenna on your tower, if you are so inclined to calculate it from the FCC public information on any particular station), calculated from height above averate terrain (haat). so there are small areas of the country that are not practically able to get the signal.

      they live on the satell
    • I don't have cable; I just watch a fair number of DVDs.
  • Please please (Score:4, Insightful)

    by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Thursday June 09, 2005 @08:47PM (#12775839) Journal
    Now if they just mandate more intelligent programming.

    Anything but that! Programming is none of their business. You should know that by now. Especially after the "Janet" thing. Technical standards are the only thing theFCC should be messing with.
  • by EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) * on Thursday June 09, 2005 @08:48PM (#12775843) Homepage Journal
    11 years ago, I bought a 21" Television for $250 and some rabbit ears for $15. This setup has worked for me for the last 11 years. The visual quality isn't as good as your $2000 setup, but it's good enough for me, my wife & our friends.

    If the FCC really wants me to switch to the new Digital TV, I figure I should be able to get an equivilant system for an equivilant price.

    I'm willing to update if I get something better, I'm NOT going to pay a ton of money just so that I can get the same service with more pixels.

    My requirements before I buy a new digital television:

    1. Price around $250
    2. Can receive free on-air broadcasts with a $15 antenna.
    3. Works with my existing A/V equipment.
    4. 21" screen
    5. Would be nice to have a TV that properly shows the 16:9 ratio. I'll pay an extra $50-100 for this feature.
    6. Lasts 11 years without a single problem


    If I can't get this, I don't see why I should switch. Why should I pay more for less?
    • The pricing situation is a bit tricky. Right now the equipment is pricey because relatively few people want to spend money on it. As you say, existing TV is good enough for most people. (Especially since most people get their TV over cable or satellite and therefore this won't help them, but I'll get to that in a minute.)

      The FCC is hoping to tell everybody, "Look, we're going to DTV, start making it," which should drop the price to the point where an adapter for your existing TV is $50. (The manufacturer
    • Ah, shouldn't you at least adjust the price for inflation?
    • by Malc (1751) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @09:23PM (#12776099)
      Don't forget, 250 1994 dollars is equivalent to $300-$400 at today's prices due to inflation.

      Here's a calculator: http://eh.net/hmit/compare/ [eh.net]

    • Why should I pay more for less?

      Because the FCC, who represents the public interest, has decided that the switch to digital TV will be a better use for the public airwaves.

      When the FCC forces a company to do something like this, people cheer. When the FCC does something that affects the public, you get nothing but complaints.

      I certainly believe the FCC has handled this whole thing quite poorly, but saying that cheap TV sets are a right is completely ridiculous. When everything switched over from black

    • by UserChrisCanter4 (464072) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @10:00PM (#12776350)
      Okay [bestbuy.com]

      That took me about 30 seconds to find. Best Buy happened to be the first retailer I hit, but I'm sure you'd have similar results elsewhere.

      1) Granted, it's $329 instead of $250, but it's also 27" instead of 21". Don't forget to factor inflation.
      2) In a few months, a TV like that will be required to receive free over-the-air transmissions, so I'm sure you'll see a model sometime closer to the end of this year with those features.
      3) I don't know what sort of Home Theater equipment you have, but this thing has plenty of inputs and a line-level audio out, so I don't see how it couldn't.
      4) Done plus 6"
      5) There's a 26" Widescreen Samsung CRT on that same site for $450, so it's $120 more.
      6) Wouldn't we all like that. Hell, you can't say that about anything, and it's not a by-product of DTV or not. My folks have a cheap Magnavox from the mid 80's that still works, and I've seen quality, name-brand TVs from many different time periods crap out. This one will be a crapshoot. Also, how exactly will you judge that something will last 11 years without a single problem?

      Remember: $8,000 65" HDMI-equipped LCoS TVs with 1080p display capability are NOT the only DTVs out there.
      • Thanks genius, your solution would have me staring at $350 of high-definition static.

        I've seen that TV in purpose and have considered it.

        Trouble is, it doesn't come with an HDTV tuner. It's "HDTV Ready". Tuners cost $250 [bestbuy.com], and I'll still need to get cable/satellite (what a rip off) or a HDTV antenna ($30+, which is acceptable). Either way, this is $300 more then the $250 solution I'm looking for.

        Also, how exactly will you judge that something will last 11 years without a single problem?

        Well first off,
        • Read my responses to the same two posts above. Manufacturers aren't including ATSC tuners because they don't have to, and their price will be incidental once they're required and the economy of scale kicks in. OTA tuners are expensive because very few people buy them, and they are targetted at videophiles who have money to burn. Technologically, an ATSC tuner is nothing more than an RF tuner and an MPEG-2 decoder that is clocked slightly faster than the ones you might find in a DVD player. They'd probab
  • Instead of trying to impose regulations, why not just let the free market decide?
    • Apparently because it's not deciding fast enough... those that fill the pockets of the FCC have convinced them it needs a push.
      -N
    • Re:The free market (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eobanb (823187)
      Because sometimes the free market doesn't work speedily in the interests of the consumer and common good, you asshat. This is why there are pollution regulations, automobile crash tests, minimum wages, and class-action lawsuits.
    • They tried that with AM Stereo. It was a disaster.
    • Because until all the broadcasters switch over to digital, they can't use the extra frequencies for something else.
    • There's an old scenario that goes like this:

      City guy: Why do all the farmers paint their barns red?
      Hardware store guy: 'Cause red paint is the cheapest.
      City guy: Well, why is red paint the cheapest?
      Hardware store guy: 'Cause we sell a lot of it.

      The lesson is that the status quo tends to be reinforced. It may not be the most advantageous in the long run. The FCC want's to eventually eliminate the current Analog television signals, which given today's technology, is an inefficient use of the br
    • Instead of trying to impose regulations, why not just let the free market decide?
      Well, let's see, in my market all the TV stations are dual broadcasting in digital, and the cable companies are dual broadcasting in digital, and all the Best Buys et al are trying to sell digital TVs, and nobody is buying them, because they don't want them.

      So, you see, the free market isn't coming up with the decision that the FCC wants. Hence, regulation is needed.

  • by craXORjack (726120) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @09:16PM (#12776051)
    Now if they just mandate more intelligent programming.

    I don't know. I'm worried that televisions will get too intelligent in the future. I have a recurring dream that I am watching my new LCD "Buck Rogers in the 21st Century" TV and a commercial comes on, so I get up to make a sandwich but as soon as I start to leave-- the show comes back on. Then when I sit back down to watch it the commercial comes back. Every time I try to get up this happens again. So I give in and run to the kitchen while my show is on. But it's a dream so, you know, I'm always running in slow motion. Finally I make it and I can hear my show in the other room while I spread peanut butter and jelly on two slices of bread. It sounds really good. I can tell from the laughtrack that I'm missing some really funny shit. I literally throw the knife in the sink from four feet away and run as fast as I can to the couch. My show is still on. I made it. My butt touches the couch cushion as I take a bite of my sandwich and fix my eyes on the screen... just in time to see the commercial.

    • Programming (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gr8_phk (621180)
      HDTV has the potential to kill cable if the broadcasters would get off their butts. My house is within range of 8 transmitters. Each of those has the option of sending up to 6 subchannels at lower resolution digital. The local Fox station should be carrying Fox-Network, Fox-News, and Fox-Kids on digital but they aren't. PBS should have a kids channel and the regular news/business stuff or maybe carry NASA TV, NOVA and some other stuff and have a science/education subchannel. Someone should run a channel gui
  • Which is it? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by erroneus (253617) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @09:24PM (#12776113) Homepage
    I'm recalling the situation about the broadcast flag for digital TV and how a judge ruled that the FCC doesn't have the power to mandate such a thing because it's hardware.

    Now we have the FCC mandating that TVs must provide digital reception as well as analog. What am I missing here?

    I can't say I disagree with either decision, but there seems to be some level of conflict between the two activities here.
    • Re:Which is it? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Detritus (11846)
      The FCC is proceeding under the authority of the All Channel Receiver Act of 1962, which they previously used to mandate the inclusion of UHF tuners and to set performance standards for those tuners.
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @09:36PM (#12776200)
    As long as they're upping the deadlines for TVs to support digital broadcasts, they should also be putting regulatory pressure on broadcasters and content makers to provide digital HD content, even if there's no mandated DRM yet to "protect" said content from evil people like us who want to commit the heinous crimes of skipping commercials and time/space/format-shifting the shows we watch.

  • My favorite part (Score:4, Interesting)

    by adminispheroid (554101) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @10:01PM (#12776357)
    From the article:
    Television manufacturers and retailers supported the petition, while broadcasters opposed it.
    So what's missing here? That's right, there's apparently no interest in what consumers want.

    But we do have an option, since so far the FCC hasn't ruled that every home is required to have a TV.

  • turn it off (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 09, 2005 @10:03PM (#12776364)
    What we really need is more intelligent viewers.
  • You sure? (Score:3, Funny)

    by kitzilla (266382) <paperfrog@gGINSBERGmail.com minus poet> on Thursday June 09, 2005 @10:36PM (#12776594) Homepage Journal
    > Now if they just mandate more intelligent programming.

    I know you're kidding, but are you really sure you want THIS administration to decide what constitutes "intelligent" programming?

  • by AtariDatacenter (31657) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @11:32PM (#12776902)
    But didn't the courts just get through telling the FCC that they had no power to create regulations regarding receivers?

    Did I misunderstand the ruling regarding the broadcast flag, or is the FCC ignoring the meaning of it?

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