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With apologies to Oliver Stone, I have a conspiracy theory of my own regarding the real reason for the recent delay in the transition from analog to digital television. Those endless public service announcements reminding us all of the previous February switchover date have become just so darn popular with TV viewers that the government and broadcasters have decided to turn them all into a reality series. The estimated 6.5 million homes left in the U.S. that still aren't ready for the switch will have to search, "Amazing Race"-style, across the country for the last 1,000 converter coupons.
Aha! I hadn't considered the reality aspect.
I thought it was a conspiracy brought on by the cable folks since OTA reception appears to be a crap shoot dependent on the weather, the dog scratching a flea, or random movements of the inhouse ambient air.
Talk about now you see it now you don't... It is hard to decide whether the roaming no signal box, the pixillation and/or stop movement (usually with the speaker's mouth open) or the no sound is most aggravating since this occurs with no change in the settings or the outside antenna direction.
Evidently this sort of OTA reception will be a given yea unto eternity until the cable companies manage to get everyone on their list even if we live in the hinterlands.
Solution:get a library card!
June 12th. Or are you spoofing the date too?
It's very simple. There are many people unemployed and many who cannot afford cable or satellite. They need their $40 coupons to keep their TV's on. $40 may not seem like a big deal, but it is when you have to put food on the table.
I live about 50 miles out from the local tv stations. After the switch the reception will depend on weather. Bad weather, no signal. One of the stations sugests I install a dish w/rotor to recieve the signal. Cannot get cable here. Need 6 houses to the mile. There aren't 6 houses on this road which is 2 1/2 miles long. Progress?
HD Radio is jamming our broadcast bands, especially on AM radio. Consumers have zero interest, and iBiquity has fudged the number of HD radios sold:
"HD Radio spinners claim a breakthrough year: Pulling a fast one"
"According to a press release from the Alliance 330,000 HD receivers were sold last year. This is a 725 per cent increase from the 40,000 sets purchased a year earlier and therefore 2007 was a 'breakthrough year' for the technology. In 2008 they will sell a million of the things."
HD Radio is a farce!
I work in the broadcast equipment business and have been anxiously waiting for the benefits of HD radio and DTV.
It's just a matter of time before HD radio dies the same death as AM stereo and Quadrophonic Audio. HD radio is a disaster. I live in the DFW market. CBS radio took a relatively popular smooth jazz format station and made it into one of the -2 multicast stations.
Nice idea in theory. They put on yet another "music to kill your parents by" station on the old analog channel and moved smooth jazz to -2.
HD radio uses the original analog FM station's signal as a fall back when the bit error rate is too high for the HD radio to decode the data stream. Since there is no analog smooth jazz station to fall back on, the HD suffers from the cliff effect of too many bad bits and drops out. High Def stutter...
Unfortunately I did not find out about fall back until after I returned my first HD radio because of excessive drop outs and bought a 2nd receiver that was supposedly the best on the market.
I have spent almost $2k to hear my favorite station in HD and it doesn't work. Now I am really pissed at the radio manufacturer.
CBS did not stream the station on the 'net citing "server issues". That eventually killed the HD station and smooth jazz format because there were no listeners.
Makes perfect sense to me. Duke it out with all of the other "urban contemporary" stations in town or keep a moderately profitable smooth jazz format with no competition. "I will take business school dropout for a thousand alex.."
HD programming is also very inconsistent. The local AM talk radio station broadcasts HD only during Rush Limbaugh. The rest of the time it's just plain old analog.
AM has the most to gain from HD's digital quality but for some unknown reason they don't take advantage of it.
DTV will be the death of over the air TV. Texas has severe weather in the spring and fall. When the weather is bad the digital OTA (over the air)freezes and stutters from high bit error.
If there is a tornado headed for my house I want to know where it is RIGHT NOW and not watch the freezes and stutters that eventually tell me where it was. Converter boxes will have the same problems with atmosperics.
The reason I predict the death of OTA is cable does not suffer from atmospheric disturbances that plague OTA television.
Unfortunatly people on fixed income who cannot afford cable must rely on OTA for their emergency weather broadcasts.
The FCC held a gun to the head of the broadcasters forcing them to go digital or lose their licenses. The broadcasters have incurred the costs of building new towers, buying DTV transmitters, new antennas, high speed data links to relay the programming from the studio to the transmitter site (STLs) on and on. $10M or more per station is a commonly quoted cost estimate.
Not to mention the biggest operating expense for a TV station- electricity. Look at your power bill and check out the cost per kWh. The average DTV transmitter consumes 1 Megawatt or more and runs 24x7.
For the first 4 years no one was watching DTV except the station manager and chief engineer.
There has been no additonal ad revenue generated by DTV to recoup the investment and operating costs over the last 5 years. Why would an advertiser pay more for spots on DTV that has no viewership when analog works just fine and reaches everyone?
We need OTA television to provide local news and real time weather. You can't get them from the centralized master control room in NJ. or Denver that feeds the up-links for DirecTV, Dish, or your cable provider's head end.
OTA digital TV needs a more robust transmission scheme with higher data rates and better modulation to support the error correction needed to overcome atmospherics and make over the air DTV work reliably.
Most of that work can done by replacing the transmitter's exciter. Unfortunately that will obsolete the built in tuner in your nice new shiny flat screen. A new set-top box will fix that problem but .. doesn't one of those come free with a built in DVR from the cable company?
Tune in for my next installment, "why the US adopted a second rate DTV system".