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Subject: [IP] more on Digital TV: Congress vs. Consumers

  • From: David Farber <>
  • To: Ip <>
  • Date: Tue, 08 Feb 2005 14:38:15 -0500

Title: more on &nbsp;&nbsp;Digital TV: Congress vs. Consumers

------ Forwarded Message
From: Bob Frankston <>
Date: Tue, 08 Feb 2005 13:35:47 -0500
To: <>, 'Ip' <>
Cc: 'Lauren Weinstein' <>, Mike Godwin <>
Subject: RE: [IP] Digital TV: Congress vs. Consumers

You have to remember that this is not simply about moving people to &quot;digital TV&quot;. We have an industrial policy that is borne of many agendas and ultimately, fundamental misunderstanding. To elaborate on points Mike Godwin made long ago.

We basically have two world views. After CES I realized that we can distinguish between those who see DVD&#8217;s as simply bit transports and those who see each generation such as SD-DVD and HD-DVD as unrelated products. To the latter the idea that you can put a short amount of HD on an 4.7GB DVD or a lot of SD on a 20GB DVD &#8220;does no &nbsp;compute&#8221; (who do you think came up with that class phrase?)

Visiting the Sanyo booth I had a chance to speak to one of the people from that &#8220;other&#8221; world which I now call Tellywood &#8211; the fusion of Television and Hollywood into a single &#8220;content&#8221; industry.

&eth; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Congress sees a lot of money in the spectrum auction. At CES one of the people from the Tellywood world told me that we could retire the national debt from auctioning off the spectrum that was freed up. I didn&#8217;t get a chance to challenge him on that. I also listened without commenting to his claim that the broadcasters would save a lot of money since digital TV uses needs less broadcast power than analog TV.
&eth; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Tellywood gets the broadcast bit which is their license to sue and impose whatever they want on anyone. Can&#8217;t allow disruption of something as important as the flow of movies from Hollywood (as they represented a major part of the economy).
&eth; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;HDTV/DTV sound alike even though they are very different. It helps make it seem as if it is vital that are adopt them whatever they are. Unlike Quadraphonic sound we seem to be determined to institute an industrial policy to make sure the marketplace doesn&#8217;t make the mistake of rejecting these technologies.

I&#8217;ve already written enough about this so won&#8217;t attempt to point out the flaws in all this. Lauren&#8217;s point about homes with a single cable feed while the rest of the house continues to pick up broadcast signals is interesting &#8211; it&#8217;s about policy rather than cost since redistributing that signal should be easy but since CableCos are more than just transports it does create a cost per receiver.

It is important to understand that this transition is more than just a repeat of the VHF
&egrave;UHF transition. I remember that because my father sold UHF to VHF converter boxes. &nbsp;The FCC eventually required that the TVs hide the differences between the bands so as to level the playing field. It was a form of industrial policy but the agenda was simpler and even defensible if you assume &#8220;channels&#8221; are scarce resources that must be managed. (though it was too late to save the DuMont network)

The new policies mix in too many agendas and that assures that simple technical and reality arguments cannot derail it. How can you argue against allowing people to watch football games in high definition and also allowing Hollywood to safely make their movies available? It can all happen if we can pretend computers and the Internet don&#8217;t exist in Tellywood (except as props and McGuffins)

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of David Farber
Sent: Tuesday, February 08, 2005 12:59
To: Ip
Subject: [IP] Digital TV: Congress vs. Consumers
------ Forwarded Message
From: Lauren Weinstein <>
Date: Tue, 08 Feb 2005 09:31:57 -0800
To: <>
Cc: <>
Subject: Digital TV: Congress vs. Consumers
As we've discussed in the past -- and nothing has changed in this
respect -- Congress is setting themselves up for a remarkable fall
if they try to force digital TV down consumers' throats. &nbsp;People
in this country will put up with a lot of garbage from their
elected officials, but you screw around with their television
(or their pets) at your own peril.
Even the oft-quoted statistics about digital television penetration
are suspect. &nbsp;We hear that &quot;only 15%&quot; of consumers receive TV via
broadcast vs. cable or satellite., or that some percentage of
households own a digital TV in any given city.
But what is frequently ignored is that even a home on cable or
satellite may have only one or two sets wired, and have other
smaller sets around the house hooked to a roof or set-top antenna.
Yes, rabbit-ear antennas in use -- I see them all the time in houses
right here in L.A. Even families who have sprung for one big-screen
digital TV will usually have ordinary analog sets in other rooms,
often hooked to antennas. &nbsp;The upcoming digital tuner mandate only
applies to larger screen sizes.
Bottom line: There are vast seas of analog televisions in use within
the U.S. that depend on analog broadcast signals. &nbsp;Many more are
purchased every day -- both large and small sets. &nbsp;No government
money is available to help subsidize people to obtain digital
televisions (as was once being talked about, however looney the idea
always was).
If Congress attempts to rapidly obsolete their constituents'
investments in analog televisions receiving analog broadcasts, the
residents of both the House and Senate are likely to find that
there's more than one &quot;third-rail&quot; in politics that leads to voter
Lauren Weinstein or or
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800
Co-Founder, PFIR - People For Internet Responsibility -
Co-Founder, Fact Squad -
Co-Founder, URIICA - Union for Representative International Internet
&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Cooperation and Analysis -
Moderator, PRIVACY Forum -
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Lauren's Blog:
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