Cuban: HDTV Bandwidths Could Mean Fewer Channels - TvTechnology

Cuban: HDTV Bandwidths Could Mean Fewer Channels

As networks, programmers and consumer groups debate the pros and cons of changing the nation's media ownership rules, Internet and HDTV pioneer Mark Cuban suggests that the bandwidth requirements of HDTV offerings like his could reduce the number of channels available on cable and satellite systems. "Remember, HD requ
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As networks, programmers and consumer groups debate the pros and cons of changing the nation's media ownership rules, Internet and HDTV pioneer Mark Cuban suggests that the bandwidth requirements of HDTV offerings like his could reduce the number of channels available on cable and satellite systems.

"Remember, HD requires 19.4mbs [sic], most networks on digital platforms use 2mbs or less," Cuban wrote to FCC DTV Task Force Chairman Rick Chessen. "Unless there is some compression miracle in the next five years, when HD takes off like we know it will, there will be FEWER networks on cable and satellite. This will create a game of Survivor for digital networks."

(Editor's note: Actually, an HD channel may require 15 Mbps or fewer.)

Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA, was writing in the context of the media ownership rules now under review by the commission. He said the number of networks available could drop from around 250 to "under 100."

"Which of course could mean that the bigger companies, with the ability to get slots will most likely control more of that bandwidth, and we will see a reduction in tv [sic] choices, skewing towards larger companies."

Cuban's HDNet, available on DirecTV, has brought HD sports, news and concerts to a small audience of satellite viewers and praise as a daring innovator in the new technology.

"So even though there are considerably more outlets for entertainment and news today because of digital tv and the internet, due to the bandwidth required for HD," Cuban continued, "that paradigm will flip flop and there will be considerably fewer over the next 5 to 7 years, meaning that ownership consolidation could consolidate considerable media power in fewer companies."