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The Expansionist
Monday, January 26, 2009
Stealing "the People's Airwaves". The digital-TV conversion is a scam run by rich corporations and the Government to steal "the people's airwaves" (FCC's mandate) and turn them over to corporations. This scam is sold to the public as an improvement, as tho we are to get something of great value, even tho we have to spend BILLIONS of dollars as a Nation for these "benefits". Government is offering a $40 coupon for up to two converter boxes, each of which could costs $70 or more! And if you have more than two TV's, you're out of luck. You have to pay the entire cost yourself.
Many features are common to all coupon-eligible boxes. That's not surprising. For one thing, the government requires all coupon-eligible boxes to have a standard set of basic features and allows a few optional ones. Approved boxes cannot have higher-end features (such as HD outputs) that the government deems unnecessary for basic functionality.
So if you have an HDTV, which Government and the popular culture have told us for years that we must all someday get, you will have to pay the entire cost of the DTV converter box yourself — for every HDTV you want to be able to watch! What a bargain!
A video at the Consumers Union website says this conversion could cost $30 to $200 PER TV SET! plus $20 for a new antenna. And recycling of TVs that consumers may feel forced to ditch creates another imposition on individuals. For all this trouble and expense, what are we supposed to get? What improvement in our lives will this massive disruption and cost, bring to us, at a time when people are severely stressed economically? A better picture and sound. Big f*g deal. "More programming choices". Oh? What additional choices? Will over-air broadcasters make cable TV no longer necessary? Will cable channels like Comedy Central and MSNBC suddenly become available on-air to everyone who has a digital TV or digital converter box? No one says any such thing.
There is absolutely no reason that analog broadcasts cannot continue indefinitely. No reason whatsoever. The technology is in place. The excuse is that the existing analog frequencies are needed for public-benefit activities:
Congress mandated the conversion to all-digital television broadcasting, also known as the digital television (DTV) transition, because all-digital broadcasting will free up frequencies for public safety communications (such as police, fire, and emergency rescue). Also, digital is a more efficient transmission technology that allows broadcast stations to offer improved picture and sound quality, as well as offer more programming options for consumers through multiple broadcast streams (multicasting). In addition, some of the freed up frequencies will be used for advanced commercial wireless services for consumers.
What a bunch of b*. Are we to believe that our police, fire, and emergency rescue services cannot operate now? That's nonsense. If they can operate now, why would they stop being able to operate if we continued analog broadcasting?
And who ACTUALLY now offers "more programming options for consumers through multiple broadcast streams (multicasting)"? Lots of TV stations are supposed to be broadcasting digitally now. What new programming is there? TVGuide.com shows several digital channels, indicated by an (aptly) digital extension, say channel 4.1 or 7.2. Here is the entire list of 'new' programming in NYC thanks to digital multicasting: Channel 2 and 2.1 (CBS) both show exactly the same programming, including infomercials during the same times. Channel 4 and 4.1 (NBC) show exactly the same programming; 4.2 shows skiing, then hours and hours of informercials! 5 and 5.1 (Fox) show the same programs; 5.2 shows ___; 5.3 shows syndicated reruns. 7 and 7.1 (ABC) show the same programs; 7.2 shows endless local news until 11:30, whereupon it shifts to infomercials! 9 and 9.1 (independent) show the same shows, as do 11 and 11.1 (CW). 11.2 broadcasts in Spanish. 13 and 13.1 (PBS) broadcast the same programming; 13.2 shows children's programming constantly, OVERNITE. Why? What children are watching TV at 3 o'clock in the morning? 13.3 broadcasts Spanish-language programming. 21 and 21.1 show the same programs; 21.2, .3, and .4 — finally — show different programs, but since PBS's programming consists overwhelmingly of reruns, there is very little that is genuinely new. And on and on thru the entire lineup, either identical programming or reruns, with a lot of infomercials. There's almost nothing new, and the cable channels we might be glad to receive over-air so we can stop paying cable companies, is simply not offered.
Why wouldn't the History Channel, Animal Planet, and other present cable channels welcome DTV and use the extra channels that are to be opened up as another way to deliver their content and advertising? I don't know, but they haven't yet, so there is little reason to think they will after February 17th (or June, or whenever). In short, the "benefits" to TV viewers are minimal. What it really means is more channels filled with trash that wasn't worth seeing the first time and is rerun endlessly, plus many times as many infomercials!
Here's another zinger:
(Also, multicast technology allows some stations to rent out unused portions of their FCC-licensed spectrum allotment to pay-TV providers, or to use them for other information services.)
Further, if broadcasters reach for the HDTV audience, they will NOT be able to increase programming by much despite a digital changeover:
To provide high-definition television (HDTV) images with surround sound, broadcasters must send huge chunks of information over the airwaves. During HD broadcasts, a local station has only enough room left in the digital pipe (”bandwidth”) to provide one or two more multicast programming streams, rather than perhaps four more otherwise.
So we are NOT likely going to see much more free TV after all but might be CHARGED for additional new programming, and we are thus supposed to spend BILLIONS OF DOLLARS to render ourselves open to more pay TV. It's an outrageous con by the broadcasting industry.
The claim is also made that broadcasters could lease out part of their bandwidth to "new entrants", by which they imply "minority- and women-owned businesses". But there is absolutely no requirement they do so; nor is there any assurance that small businesses could afford to lease any part of the over-air spectrum, a further twist in this insidious con.
Even if there is some additional programming, as I have shown, most might be in the form of regular programming on, say, channel 6 and 6.1, weather on 6.2, and local news and sports on 6.3. Is that a benefit worth BILLIONS of dollars of people's money and disruption to their lives in having to change equipment and connections that a lot of people just plain don't understand even at present? What of all those scores of millions of people who have to have a friend hook up their VCR, DVR, or TiVo? How many MILLIONS of manhours is this conversion going to take? For what?
The supposed picture and sound benefits may be illusory, if not fraudulent misstatements, especially for people who buy HDTV:
Even when I watch the sports on a 13" TV, the bandwidth starvation is painfully evident. There are motion blur, tiling and "mosquito noise" (see http://www.videsignline.com/howto/180207350) so bad that I just about never want to watch it.
And the same website suggests that what is offered may depend on the state of the economy:
Considering the TV advertising situation, I wonder if the local TV stations would end up operating just a few transmitters which would multicast all of the primary (x.1) local broadcasts, thus saving each local broadcaster the total cost of operating an entire DTV transmission facility.
If that turns out to be true, why are we doing this now, when the economy is in tatters? The bulk of benefits, if any, will accrue not to the consumer or viewer, but to major corporations, and the producers of infomercials who attempt to sell us crap by feeding us lies. This is not an issue of the market driving decisions, but of people being dictated to by a high-handed Government that is in the pocket of Big Broadcasting.
The Congressionally-mandated end to analog TV broadcasts should be not just delayed but reversed by the Obama Administration.

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