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RF Shorts – April 15, 2011

The San Francisco Chronicle reports 1 million homes cut cable, switch to antenna, web. The article, by Ellen Lee, is based on an April report from the Convergence Consulting Group Ltd. On a flight to Los Angeles from NAB Thursday night I overheard the person next to me (who wasn't in broadcasting), telling someone that they dropped cable TV several years ago but recently discovered they could get news for free over-the-air.. This is another indication of people rediscovering broadcast TV after the DTV transition, but based on the person's comments about a limited number of stations and the signal dropping out during the day broadcasters have a way to go in educating consumers about how to get reliable over-the-air reception.

The president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association took his case for reallocating broadcast spectrum to wireless carriers to Las Vegas with a well timed "special to the Las Vegas Review Journal" titled Auction off the broadcast spectrum. In his comments, he says, "The decline of over-the-air broadcasting has actually coincided with an increase of news consumption. Pew found that Americans spend more time with the news than they did a decade ago." and continues, "But do we really need stats and numbers to make the point that news is accessible nearly anywhere today? When was the last time you had to adjust your television antenna to get the weather report? Now, when was the last time your cell phone dropped a call? The problems affecting consumers in 2011 reflect a 21st-century economy -- not the 1950s of the NAB's imagination." Don't miss the comments to the article.

Engadget published a review of RCA's line of portable hybrid televisions but the comments posted to the article generally dismissed the products noting people don't want to carry multiple devices. One commenter did point out the usefulness of the sets in an emergency.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.