Slate Article Notes Differences in U.S. and European DTV Transition

October 13, 2003
As you may have gathered from reading RF Report, the DTV transition is proceeding differently in much of the rest of the world than it is in the U.S. In August, Berlin shut down all analog TV broadcasting and went all digital. As in other countries reported on here, the focus was on multichannel rather than HDTV terrestrial broadcasting. Thomas Hazlett, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research has been quoted in RF Report before. He now has an article, Finally, Something Good on German TV on Slate with some suggestions for the U.S. DTV transition.

In the article, Hazlett outlines how each of America's 210 TV markets, using 10 channels broadcasting a 4 to 1 multiplex could "zap 40 digital channels to every rooftop antenna." This would, he said, "give many Americans a viable alternative to cable and satellite subscription services." and allow use of the remaining bandwidth to "jump-start a host of innovative technologies that aren't related to the idiot box."

Hazlett used NTCA figures to show there are about 13 million households that don't subscribe to cable or satellite. In the article he discusses a number of ways to deal with these households and rejects the FCC's DTV tuner mandate. He suggested that rather than waiting a decade or more to creep up to the "85 percent digital-tuner deployment mark," a "Berlin-style instant switch would force only non-subscribing households to buy new receivers."

The article did not mention the households that, although they have cable or satellite service for the primary TV set, depend on over-the-air reception to view TV on portable or hand-held TV sets.

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