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Nov 19

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11/19/2009 10:43 AM  RssIcon


The movement to kill free, over-the-air TV service has never been as intense as it is right now. The administration has aligned fully with the telco and computer lobbies that have been trying to wrench spectrum away from broadcasting for years. The effort started years ago with the move toward digital transmission. It advanced more recently when the fed allowed unlicensed communications devices in TV buffer channels. Now there’s talk of further displacement to free spectrum up for wireless broadband.

It coincides with the single most difficult period in the broadcast industry. Broadcasters are hurting from multiple blows. The just-completed DTV transition cost them millions. The implosion of the auto industry cut revenues by a quarter. Some bankrupt broadcast companies are now in the hands of lenders. The industry’s down. There’s no better time to kick it if the intent is to finish it off, which seems to be the case.

The movement to kill free TV emanates from Washington, D.C., not into it. People aren’t walking around wearing “Kill free TV” T-shirts. No one in Fon du Lac, Wisc., is demanding TV spectrum for wireless broadband. No one, anywhere, is itching to spend even more on household communications. No one paying the bills, that is. There’s a persistent notion that 20-somethings want everything via online mobile devices. That may be, but it’s the rare 20-something these days that doesn’t live with mom and dad.

Many studies will be bandied about in this battle. FCC commissioner Michael Copps will sniff about public-interest obligations and whether broadcasters deserve to use the airwaves. The typically powerful pro business forces in Washington will check their shoelaces because the companies going after the spectrum can afford some pretty hefty campaign contributions.

Words like “innovation” will be used a lot, and the prognosticated economic benefits will run into the trillions. Ultimately, someone will proffer that allowing broadcast television to continue will cost countless lives. It’s been done before.

Hype and mud will fly. The bottom line is that Verizon, AT&T, Google and Microsoft can make more money off of those airwaves than 1,700-some local TV stations. Monthly subscriptions-plus-ad revenues trumps ad revenues alone as far as Wall Street is concerned. Wireless broadband promises better earnings per share than broadcasting—for those who own shares. For everyone else, it will mean higher monthly subscription fees for Internet service and for TV. Free, over-the-air TV service is the sole alternative to a single pay provider in most areas.

And when it’s gone, it won’t be back.

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6 comment(s) so far...


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TV in 10 Years

Wow. Why has there been such silence about this in the regular media? I saw a commercial only today that referred to "the movement to limit free antenna TV." When I went to research this online, I found your post, but not much more. And yet, not knowing any of this, I have to say that I sure can call it - as soon as the DTV transition became public conversation I predicted what it was really all about - forcing people to purchase television services. And reception, since the DTV transition SUCKS, so I'm sure more and more people will gradually be forced to purchase television services they really can't afford in order not to be cut off from essential news and information. I for one, am not paying for TV. Ever. I'm sure there are many others who will not or cannot. This impacts our very political system - you can't have a healthy democracy without freely accessible news and information to inform the citizenry. Of course, in reality, the US hasn't been a democracy for a very long time, that having been subverted by the current corporatocracy. I'm sick at heart about what Wall Street and corporations have done to this country.

By on   12/28/2009 3:02 PM
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TV in 10 Years

I just heard today on tv that a special interest group in Washington D.C. Wants Free OTA antenna TV to go away.WE CAN NOT LET THIS HAPPEN. Please write,email or phone Congress!!! Don't let them strip one more right from us!!!!

By on   1/3/2010 11:34 AM
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TV in 10 Years

I do NOT want free TV, to die! Is there anything I can do to help out! I live on a fixed income and I am disabled. I can't afford paid tv. Somebody must do something, I will let me help!:)

By on   1/4/2010 12:48 PM
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TV in 10 Years

I for one cannot afford sattelite or cable tv on fixed income. I manage to 'live' and no extras. and no, I am not paying for internet, I have to use wireless when I am lucky enough to get a signal to use. When all the converter box junk came about... they failed to tell you up front you would need an outside antenna which I cannot afford nor afford to have someone put it up for me, I just make do with an indoor antenna and don't get all the channels I could. NAB needs to run a more detailed commercial to get more people involved in this. Squeeky wheels get the grease as everyone just saw with a republican taking Kennedys vacated seat! People sent a message with that election and if the others that are elected to office are smart and want to keep jobs.. they will pay attention. That is what is going to have to happen to stop more of this 'takeover' madness. I for one am sick and tired of government and corporate issues getting in my personal life, taking away free tv is just another way to try to control not only a part of my personal life but yours... so start making those calls to your elected officials, send those letters and emails.

By on   2/4/2010 7:43 AM
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TV in 10 Years

I just cancelled Dish Network because their charges are rediculous for crap TV. Retired and now on a fixed income, I enjoy free outside antenna TV. It's like I have said for years, Greed is going to put this country in the toilet. Don't let the fat cats win again.

By on   1/12/2010 7:02 AM
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TV in 10 Years

If all of us do not get off our butts and join NAB plus other interest groups in fighting this move, we will lose. I would start by going to the NAB home page, making your wishes known, and then by following up with your local legislator. My old college prof said, "follow the money" and in this case it is the broadband wireless companies that are seeking to grab the broadcast spectrum so they can charge us all higher and higher fees. Right now, they sub-lease that spectrum from broadcast stations, which eats into profit. Follow the money. I cannot believe that Congress is forgetting the common man so readily --- AGAIN.

By on   2/3/2010 7:22 AM

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