Kill TV

Kill TV

: I don’t know much about spectrum and all that (and at last night’s Dan Gillmor, event, I saw someone who really does: David Isenberg) but on the way home I read in Wired that only 12 percent of Americans now get TV through an antenna. Could that be: Just 12 percent?

So I wondered: Shouldn’t we just kill off broadcast TV soon?

Imagine what we could do with all that friggin’ spectrum, no?

We could provide wires to that 12 percent (or they’ll die off by then).

And TV — along with any other form of communication, entertainment, content, or media — will be delivered by high-speed wireless bandwidth to any number of devices, set in the home or mobile.

Today, kids don’t know that difference between broadcast and cable. Soon, they won’t know the difference between wired and wireless. Everything will be delivered on demand.

And by the way, there goes the problem with the F word and titanian tits: You pick what “comes into your home” to watch and you don’t have to worry about being corrupted by broadcast radio or TV.

  • I think you mean “spectrum”, not “bandwidth” – they’re not totally different in meaning but the former is more precise. But yeah, broadcast TV is obsolete and clogging up a lot of turf. There was a big issue with this, because broadcast TV licensees in the late 90s wanted to lease out spectrum they’d been issued for HDTV, for other purposes like cellular, pagers, etc.
    I believe standard NTSC broadcasts are to stop on December 31, 2006, in favor of the digital TV standard. Right now I think they’re being broadcast in parallel – not sure what’s intended of the spectrum that will be cleared up when NTSC ends.

  • Hunter McDaniel

    Your proposal makes too much sense to be enacted. Look how McCain got ambushed this week trying to get back just a tiny part of that spectrum. THAT is what they care about.
    In reality, I don’t think the broadcasters actually care all that much about their over-the-air signals as a way to reach viewers. But under the current regime, that signal is the excuse that lets them elbow their way onto cable systems.
    Unfortunately, it’s a rare congressperson who wants to risk alienating the guy who controls local news coverage in his home district. A modern version of picking fights with someone who buys ink by the barrel.

  • Hmm, I’ll play devil’s advocate… why the heck are we paying cable companies $40+/mth to watch a) subscription channels we pay a premium for, or b) free channels that play ads that we must endure?
    I’d love to see us put the spectrum to good use… but perhaps we ought to give the cable co’s a reality check before we do.

  • ATM

    Another thing to consider is that those wires (or even those satellite dishes) aren’t accessible in many places that a broadcast connection might be. Maybe some day local wireless networks will have enough bandwidth to provide video service that is affordable and reliable. Until that day comes keep broadcast networks around.

  • old maltese

    Buy off the 12 per cent to set everybody free?
    You’re talking revolution, my man. :•)

  • It was down to 16 percent in 2001, according to Michael Powell. Another 4 percent in three years … broadcast teevee should have zero viewers by 2013 at the latest.
    I wrote a bunch of crap from the 2001 NAB convention, where Powell spoke. You can read it if you like:
    The NAB — that’s the National Association of Broadcasters — keeps a death grip on those airwaves, even if nobody uses them. It will be a long time before the NAB stooges at the FCC let go of the local broadcast teevee spectrum.

  • Spectrum. Right. See, I said I don’t know anything about it.
    Thanks. Fixed.

  • Midnight

    Not everyone can afford cable.

  • You’re replacing the television as commodity, where you buy the set and get the content for free, with a service oriented model where you have to pay every month for the content.
    Somehow I don’t think this sets anyone “free.”

  • I have actually gone back to an antenna for my local stations so I can get the HDTV signal. When I purchased my HDTV, the local cable company was not broadcasting High Def. So I went to satellite for cable channels and an antenna for local TV. Now, of course, Cable is broadcasting more HDTV than DirecTV. Can’t seem to win.
    What I’d really like is an ala carte system, where I decide which channels I’d like to bring into my house. If I want to get a Pittsburgh station in Boston, I should be able to subscribe to that. I want to be able to see the Yankees and the Red Sox in the same market. Don’t give me a package, give me a choice!

  • Tony Alva

    Next to the IRS, the FCC is the most understaffed, inefficient, lobbyist corrupted, bureaucracy in our government. TV broadcast spectrum belongs to the people and they are worth countless billions, yet we give them away to these dinosaur networks for free. Turn the screws on the cable companies to be more competitive al la the phone companies, and resell the spectrum to the wireless carriers. Don’t wait, do it now.
    As Joey Ramone said, “We want the airwaves, we want they airwaves baby…

  • Well, like I said, at the end of 2006 or sometime not long after, the old NTSC broadcast channels will go dark. That means if you have an old rabbit-ear TV and turn it to channel 2, 3, 4, 5, etc, all of the old VHF broadcast channels, there won’t be anything there. That’s because the NTSC broadcast standard, which has been in use (with improvements over time) for 50 years, is to be abandoned, in favor of DTV (which is already being broadcast in channels between the old ones).
    I don’t know what the FCC intends to do with that NTSC spectrum. The NAB will surely try to keep it, because it is extremely valuable.
    This isn’t my area of expertise, either. I just know dribs and drabs from various articles about it that I’ve read through the years.

  • pragmatist

    How much do cell phone/PCS companies have to
    pay for their part of the spectrum? LOTS
    How much do broadcasters AM Radio/FM Radio/TV
    pay for their part of the spectrum? NOTHING
    hmmmm …
    The businesses that don’t get ad revenue face huge competitive pressures and have to
    continually improve customer service.
    The businesses that take in Billions each
    year only face competition from Cable channels
    and don’t care at all about their ‘consumers’.
    What’s wrong with this picture?
    Fair is Fair. BIG media has been subsidized
    for some 70-80 years by us tax payers. Isn’t
    it time they paid SOMETHING for their spectrum
    use instead of getting it for free?
    Conflict of Interest Warning. I have been a
    licensed radio amateur for over 25 years. And
    our spectrum – what little of it we get – is,
    obviously cost free. Of course, we do provide
    all sorts of emergency communications in, for
    example, hurricane stricken areas.

  • B

    A la carte tv. I’ve been dreaming of that one for a long time. Cable is overpriced AND has commercials. Broadcast is junk for the most part. I want tv on my Blackberry dammit.