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Ah, the joys of living where the government is responsible to the people. Oh, wait... - The Snyrt File [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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Ah, the joys of living where the government is responsible to the people. Oh, wait... [Aug. 29th, 2009|09:28 pm]
Snyrt
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[User Picture]From: snyrt_file
2009-08-30 10:30 pm (UTC)
1. the fact that, at last estimate, something like 40% of Americans, with or without the boxes, with or without new $400 antennae, are without any TV whatsoever now.

2. The fact that, from what I've seen, the majority of those living in more rural areas who do in fact get the new DTV signals receive terrible sound and picture quality--sound cuts in and out, the signal freezes every two or three seconds, sometimes the whole thing dissolves into a half-cubist mishmash of colored boxes. At least with analogue TV, if the signal got weaker or came in halfway, it meant the picture got a little staticy, and there was louder white noise behind what you were trying to hear. Now there's just sound that becomes unintelligible because it frequently just stops, and pictures that even squinting doesn't clarify.

3. the fact that, for most people i knew, this really wasn't a problem at all, and didn't need to be fixed. I even know people who work for Emergency services, and they have never once said, "Thank God DTV is freeing up all this space so we can use our spectra more efficiently." (I use that example because I have heard that this was to be a benefit aside from greater access--more efficient use for emergency personnel). And if it really is such a pressing issue, and the upgrade was necessary, why isn't Canada doing the same?

In essence, i fail to see what good this did anybody except the corporations looking to free up air space for cell phone and internet sales. The new TV seems worse in quality than the old; the new services are going to be on a cost basis; a lot of people specifically said they weren't going to screw around with upgrades that weren't working anyway, and would just buy either cable or satellite. So people got the opportunity to buy satellite or cable TV, to get fewer channels than ever before and with crappy quality if they chose to stick with converter boxes, and to buy more cellphones and internet if they wanted it. Hurray for the opportunity to spend more money while the economy turns to shit.

Congress isn't supposed to give a crap about these giant companies. Congress is supposed to be looking out for the people and their needs, not the wants of big corporations. I should also point out that from what I heard/read/saw a year ago, the assistance for buying the damn boxes was an afterthought in response to a lot of pissed off people complaining about having to buy the boxes.

It's also been poorly managed; a lot of people got screwed because they were initially told broadcasting would be in both UHF and UHV format, so either antennae would work; then suddenly a couple months ago all transmission in one type (I forget which) suddenly ceased without warning. My mother knows of at least one person who know owns a fancy $500 antenna that works as well as a pile of horseshit with a coat hanger stuck in it. So antenna dealers made out well, too.

so, yeah. the big companies made more money, thousands of people lost their chief source of information, everyone else got stuck with TV that never works properly, and more pork got slid through Congress. What exactly am I supposed to like about this?
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[User Picture]From: metalclarinet
2009-09-01 03:34 am (UTC)

Reply provided by a friend in the Media Bureau

DTV was a boondoggle, but (in my opinion) not quite the one your Vermont friend thinks. (I had ancestors who lived in Lyndonville, VT, by the way.)

>>the fact that, at last estimate, something like 40% of Americans, with or without the boxes, with or without new $400 antennae, are without any TV whatsoever now.>>

Sounds very wrong. All the data I’ve seen had the number of over-the-air (not cable, not satellite) households in this country at about 11% (about 12 mil households) before the transition to DTV. The numbers I’ve seen in the trade press have – now, after the transition -- about 1 to 1.5 million still with over-the-air and unable to get one or more of their accustomed channels. Incidentally, the transition seems, contrary to our expectations, NOT to have caused a lot of over-the-air households to pony up the extra money for cable or satellite.


>> The fact that, from what I've seen, the majority of those living in more rural areas who do in fact get the new DTV signals receive terrible sound and picture quality--sound cuts in and out, the signal freezes every two or three seconds, sometimes the whole thing dissolves into a half-cubist mishmash of colored boxes. At least with analogue TV, if the signal got weaker or came in halfway, it meant the picture got a little staticy, and there was louder white noise behind what you were trying to hear. Now there's just sound that becomes unintelligible because it frequently just stops, and pictures that even squinting doesn't clarify.>>

True, but into each life some rain must fall. I miss elevator operators, milk men, and doctors making house calls. Something was lost, and I’m sure a few people mourned, when we lost burlesque, vaudeville, the traveling circus, Chautauqua oratory, illuminated manuscripts, and cave paintings. But that’s progress. The good part of the whole transition is that over-the-air TV was used by so few people that it was a waste of spectrum. The TV spectrum became like a building that was once fully inhabited and useful but now has only one little old lady living in it. And the building occupies a full city block in midtown Manhattan, the most valuable real estate in the country. Time to move her out, sell the land to Donald Trump, and have him build a 60-storey office, condo, and park complex there. More jobs (building the new place and working in the built buildings), more tax revenues, more use of a resource. And with the money Trump pays us for the building permits, we can buy the little old lady Bernie Madoff’s penthouse on 64th street.

>> The fact that, for most people i knew, this really wasn't a problem at all, and didn't need to be fixed. I even know people who work for Emergency services, and they have never once said, "Thank God DTV is freeing up all this space so we can use our spectra more efficiently." (I use that example because I have heard that this was to be a benefit aside from greater access--more efficient use for emergency personnel). And if it really is such a pressing issue, and the upgrade was necessary, why isn't Canada doing the same? >>

The whole DTV crusade began circa 1985 because the over-the-air TV people saw cable taking away their viewers and the FCC began allocating more and more “TV spectrum” to cellular service. “We’ll have new and better TV” as a way for the networks (and remaining American TV manufacturers and their labor unions) to hold onto SOME of their spectrum. Once that potent coalition had convinced the FCC and Congress that we needed “new and better TV” (this was also back when Japan was going to take over the world and Japan had HiDef TV), all its proponents went back to sleep. To get progress started again, the proponents of “spectrum efficiency” (who were a few economists with zero political power) realized that the advantage of “new TV” was that it cold free up lots of TV spectrum. Especially UHF, which needed to skip 7 channels between each channel used for TV – a scandalous waste of spectrum, like having a building every seventh block in Manhattan. But the economists needed some important allies, to whom they would promise half the spectrum. Who better than Public Safety – you’re in favor of public safety, aren’t you? Especially after 9/11.
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[User Picture]From: metalclarinet
2009-09-01 03:43 am (UTC)

Re: Reply provided by a friend in the Media Bureau

I think John's most interesting point is that the big push began in the 1980s when over the air broadcasters were trying to claw back market share. By 2009, they had pretty well lost. The only thing that keeps them affluent is the must carry rules.

In the DC area, some people I know have lost one or two UHF channels but still have ended up with a lot more programming. We do see pixelization occasionally, but I personally have not found it to be troublesome. Even so, the pictures & sound are much better than before.

Given that there is no uproar in the media, I guessing that for every person who has much worse over-the-air television, there are several who get more programming and far better quality reception. The winners tend to be in urban areas, the losers tend to be in rural areas. If you look across all government programs, you will find that rural folks tend to win more often than they lose -- a lot of dollars flow from urban to rural areas. ($4 billion a year in telephone subsidies, for example.)
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[User Picture]From: metalclarinet
2009-09-01 03:34 am (UTC)

More



>>In essence, i fail to see what good this did anybody except the corporations looking to free up air space for cell phone and internet sales. The new TV seems worse in quality than the old; the new services are going to be on a cost basis; a lot of people specifically said they weren't going to screw around with upgrades that weren't working anyway, and would just buy either cable or satellite. So people got the opportunity to buy satellite or cable TV, to get fewer channels than ever before and with crappy quality if they chose to stick with converter boxes, and to buy more cellphones and internet if they wanted it. Hurray for the opportunity to spend more money while the economy turns to shit.>>


Cell phones and the Internet are used by far more people today than over-the-air TV, and therefore (in my opinion) have a better claim to spectrum. Cable and satellite have more channels, more niche-oriented content (BET, Telenocitas, the Gay Catholic Serbian Folk Dancing channel, CSPAN, your local public access channel, etc.), less censorship, more creativity and free speech. What’s not to like? Cable is also potentially two way, enabling you to talk to other people and become a content creator yourself – something that would never come from over-the-air TV, which is inherently impoverished and impoverishing.

Congress isn't supposed to give a crap about these giant companies. Congress is supposed to be looking out for the people and their needs, not the wants of big corporations. I should also point out that from what I heard/read/saw a year ago, the assistance for buying the damn boxes was an afterthought in response to a lot of pissed off people complaining about having to buy the boxes.

Last sentence is right. Early on, Congress assumed that the over-the-air guys would leap at “new and better TV” and that everyone would buy a “new and better” TV. Then, as noted above, once the old TV guys secured their spectrum from the encroachments of the cellular and Internet people, the oldsters went back to sleep. They had to be dragged into moving to digital TV and people had to be dragged into buying new sets.

>>It's also been poorly managed; a lot of people got screwed because they were initially told broadcasting would be in both UHF and UHV format, so either antennae would work; then suddenly a couple months ago all transmission in one type (I forget which) suddenly ceased without warning. My mother knows of at least one person who know owns a fancy $500 antenna that works as well as a pile of horseshit with a coat hanger stuck in it. So antenna dealers made out well, too. >>

Go with new technology – cable and satellite. If I were King and you were poor, you’d have got a $100 monthly coupon (see below).


>> so, yeah. the big companies made more money, thousands of people lost their chief source of information, everyone else got stuck with TV that never works properly, and more pork got slid through Congress. What exactly am I supposed to like about this?>>


The Big Galoots who made obscene amounts of money over the years were the over-the-air TV stations and networks, who should have been put out to pasture in the 1970s, by which time it was clear that cable was a superior technology.

Congress cares about a lot of different companies and people. This whole story is a wonderful example of how Washington really works. Personally, I wish that we had shut down over-the-air TV totally; given over-the-air channels carriage rights for 10 years on cable and satellite systems; auctioned off all the TV spectrum to the highest bidder; and, with 1% of the revenues we’d have gotten from that auction, given each poor family in America $100 a month in “Information Stamps” with which they could buy any combination of telephone, TV, and Internet service they wanted. Now THAT’s “Power to the People.

But what do I know?
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[User Picture]From: snyrt_file
2009-11-30 06:08 pm (UTC)

Re: More

This is exactly my point, by the way. Urban dwellers are reaping lots of benefits, and rural America, most of which relies on TV for its information, lost much of its sources for said information. Meanwhile, rural Americans, who are by and large having a mucvh harder time than city dwellers, and are therefore not exactly rolling in extra money, are being tolds that they benewfit by having the chance to buy more airspace for personal use. If you're a struggling farmer in Vermont, or a laid off factory worker, or any of a hundred other things, you are not going to be able to go out and buy more airspace. So you got screwed.

It's misleading, very misleading, to consider the 11% national statistic as a refutation of my comments about 40% of Vermonters. Unlike the population of everywhere else, or at least the US as a whole, most of Vermont's population is still rural. Which means a higher percentage of VERMONTERS is without TV now, versus the national numbers, which of course is smaller.

However, on an interestring note, one of the first things I discovered when I moved into my newish household in September was that a whole chunk of Portland is without TV unless those people buy satelite and cable--which many of them had never had to do because so many channels came in without it.

This is not at all the same thing as milkmen or elevator operators becoming obsolete. This is potentially dangerous. This cutting off a large piece of the country's population off from the outside world. One is forced to ask, if this is such a great idea, why haven't the highly enlightened and generally more intelligent Canadians jumped on the same bandwagon?

What you are proposing is that people like my parents wouild be better off having no way of knowing if say, a moassive natural disaster was to strike New England, or if someone detonated a nuke in New York and the wind happened to bew blowing Northeast. My yes, that'd be a BRILLIANT way to deal with our communications system.

I really hate how urban-dwellers get so thoroughly wrapped up in their own immediate surroundings and spare no thought to people who might have a different financial, social, or geographical situation from theirs. This is part of why Portland makes me want to puke, and why every serious conversation I have with anyone these days tends to just piss me off.
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