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Pacomartin

join:2013-03-18
Bethlehem, PA
Reviews:
·RCN CABLE

[Rant] Must carry and clear Qam

It seems to me that stations that opt for "must carry" should also be required to broadcast in "Clear Qam". The Fcc really botched up on this point. You should be able to hook up a TV to watch PBS, local news, or weather without purchasing a "set top box".

BlitzenZeus
Burnt Out Cynic
Premium
join:2000-01-13
kudos:3
If I understand you right, you don't like how cable companies are blocking people from watching ota channels on their hdtv unless they have a box attached through their system? You're upset you need a cablecard? It prevents people from just stealing cable service. It's their system, some providers do, or did allow it.

Remember when cable used to analog, and you just needed a box for the premium/ppv content? Theft was a big problems, and it was abused. Some apartment buildings enabled from one account illegally, and the signal got weaker every time it got split.

You could always hook up an antenna, and pickup the ota stations if you're within range. This anyone can do, but it just seems like you might not be considering this option. I've had a $10 cable plan taxes included before which gave the lower range of broadcast channels for those who had problems getting ota service before, something not usually advertised, but offered when asked.
--
I distrust those people who know so well what god wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires- Susan B. Anthony
Yesterday we obeyed kings, and bent our necks before emperors. But today we kneel only to the truth- Kahlil G.


Pacomartin

join:2013-03-18
Bethlehem, PA
Reviews:
·RCN CABLE
said by BlitzenZeus:

If I understand you right, you don't like how cable companies are blocking people from watching ota channels on their hdtv unless they have a box attached through their system? You're upset you need a cablecard? It prevents people from just stealing cable service. It's their system, some providers do, or did allow it.

I don't think I said that at all. I understand the law has changed last November, and we have to live with it.

The "must carry" channels are channels that opt to forego any financial renumeration, and the cable companies "must carry" them. Almost no channels choose this option (not even Univision or Telemundo). The only ones that choose "must carry" are local news, weather, PBS, and shopping channels. If they weren't scrambled it would simplify putting a small TV in a kitchen so you can catch up on the morning news, weather or traffic jams. It would make it easier to wire a PBS only TV into a classroom. I believe channels like NASA channel are "must carry".

There is not going to be widespread cable theft over these channels.

Until this year, cable companies were REQUIRED by law to leave all local channels unscrambled. That included CBS, ABC, FOX, etc. The Fcc changed a law that had been in effect for 50 years and gave cable companies permission to scramble local channels. I just thought they should have left a clause for "must carry" stations and left them unscrambled.

ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, ION, CW, MyTV, Univision, Telemundo are all local OTA, but none of them are "must carry".

BlitzenZeus
Burnt Out Cynic
Premium
join:2000-01-13
kudos:3
What bothered me was how they were saying they wanted to be paid for retransmission rights, yet they are free ota? They were forced to carry it, but have to pay retransmission rights? Sounds like it's a sweetheart deal for the networks if you ask me. It's free, or it isn't in my book. Those channels are not free once they hit the cable providers so they should be free to encrypt them if they wish.
--
I distrust those people who know so well what god wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires- Susan B. Anthony
Yesterday we obeyed kings, and bent our necks before emperors. But today we kneel only to the truth- Kahlil G.


Pacomartin

join:2013-03-18
Bethlehem, PA
Reviews:
·RCN CABLE
If a channel is "must negotiate" then the cable company should be able to encrypt the signal. In most cases "must negotiate" means that the cable company pays money, but the network is free to negotiate another deal. For example the first years ABC worked a bargain where cable companies agreed to carry ESPN2 in exchange for the right to retransmit ABC over the air programming.

But if a channel elects to be "must carry" then the cable company must re-transmit the signal, but does not have to pay for the signal. Like I said in practice that means local news, PBS, NASA, CSPAN, etc. Those channels should not be encrypted and should be clear QAM.

A tiny 19" TV costs only $100. If I want to put it in the kitchen and get the news or PBS I shouldn't have to pay $144 a year for a set top box.

I know that antennas are free, but almost all the broadcast towers are over 40 miles from me, and there are mountains in the way. Even broadcast towers 7 miles away are obstructed by hills.

TheMG
Premium
join:2007-09-04
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·NorthWest Tel

2 recommendations

reply to Pacomartin
Set-top boxes for cable TV are something that should have disappeared years ago. With only minor differences, modern TV sets could easily have the capability to do everything the STB does.

Unfortunately no one can agree on a set standard and such a thing would probably never catch on because cable TV providers would much rather continue to charge their STB rental extortion fees.


Pacomartin

join:2013-03-18
Bethlehem, PA
Reviews:
·RCN CABLE
said by TheMG:

Unfortunately no one can agree on a set standard and such a thing would probably never catch on because cable TV providers would much rather continue to charge their STB rental extortion fees.

What is ridiculous is that TV's are increasingly built with USB ports for firmware updates, and MHL ports. You could build a key that plugs into one of these ports, and does the same verification procedure as a set top box.

But yes, extortion never goes out of fashion. I don't mind extortion so much, except when the PR department tells you that it is good for you and it decreases their costs, and they pass the savings on to you.


Msradell
P.E.
Premium
join:2008-12-25
Louisville, KY

1 recommendation

reply to BlitzenZeus
said by BlitzenZeus:

What bothered me was how they were saying they wanted to be paid for retransmission rights, yet they are free ota? They were forced to carry it, but have to pay retransmission rights? Sounds like it's a sweetheart deal for the networks if you ask me. It's free, or it isn't in my book. Those channels are not free once they hit the cable providers so they should be free to encrypt them if they wish.

OTA channels have a business model with income based on advertising. If a cable company carries the signals they reach more consumers thus they can charge more for advertising. Why should they be able to demand compensation from the cable company for carrying their signal? Originally the FCC had a mandate that cable companies were required to carry the local channels and could do so without paying compensation to the channels. Then some of the big local channels decided maybe they could make money off of this so they working through lobbyists at the FCC to change the requirements. Now, the consumers are the losers because we have to pay for the local channels twice, once in our cable bill and a 2nd time because we are forced to watch their advertising! Of course the consumers don't have lobbyists so the FCC will never change back to their original model.


Pacomartin

join:2013-03-18
Bethlehem, PA
Reviews:
·RCN CABLE
said by Msradell:

Then some of the big local channels decided maybe they could make money off of this so they working through lobbyists at the FCC to change the requirements.

The law was changed starting in the fall of 1993. But at the time the cable companies flat out refused to pay money to re-transmit a signal that was free over the air. Disney negotiated the requirement to carry ESPN2 in order to get permission to retransmit ABC. NBC got some special consideration for their cable channels. CBS got nothing because they owned no cable channels (even today they only own Showtime).

Over the last 20 years the networks have instituted plans to secure much more financial compensation for the right to re-transmit. You are only hearing about it now because the negotiations are making the news.

A station can still opt for "must carry status", but they forego their right to request any compensation, financial or other considerations. So basically only local news channels, religious channels, and government stations along with PBS opt for "must carry". Because clearly if they asked for money, the cable companies would just drop them. It is the final group of stations that I feel the cable companies should not scramble so you can put a TV in a classroom or in a public area or a kitchen and still get the news without a set top box or an antenna.

Starting in November 2012 the Fcc changed the law so that the cable companies were permitted to scramble local stations. Before that they could not scramble a local station, regardless of it's "must carry status". The cable companies got around that by not telling customers that they could get local channels without a set top box. Officially it was a capability that they did not support.

I am appalled that the Fcc gave in to this request, especially since they require all TV's to be manufactured with a QAM tuner which is now useless.


Pacomartin

join:2013-03-18
Bethlehem, PA
Reviews:
·RCN CABLE
reply to Msradell
said by Msradell:

OTA channels have a business model with income based on advertising.

That business model is a thing of the past. You simply can't get enough eyes on one channel for 23 hours of prime time to make money. DVR's and fast forwarding are not helping.

The advertising money does not help much with contract negotiations. If the actors and their agents know that The Big Bang Theory makes $132 million per year in advertising dollars, they find it much easier to negotiate salary jumps from their current $8.4 million apiece.

Michael Hall is paid about $10 million for Dexter on Showtime. CBS makes money selling subscriptions to Showtime, but there are a number of series and movies available. Showtime has revenue of roughly $1 billion per year.

The agent negotiating for the actor has to produce evidence that a certain number of people only get Showtime because they like Dexter. But it is a much more complex argument. Most people get Showtime for multiple reasons.

I believe that Ashton Kutcher's salary of $16.5 million is the highest presently for any TV actor. Forbes says he makes $24 million per year, but that includes his pay for movies.

Ultimately, I don't think an actor on cable TV will ever makes as much as the top salaries on broadcast. It is more difficult to show the direct correlation in earnings.


Dude111
An Awesome Dude
Premium
join:2003-08-04
USA
kudos:12

2 recommendations

reply to BlitzenZeus

quote:
If I understand you right, you don't like how cable companies are blocking people from watching ota channels on their hdtv unless they have a box attached through their system?
Kinda makes it suspicious like they want you to have THIER BOX cause it spies on you or something! (HEY IT COULD BE!!)


Pacomartin

join:2013-03-18
Bethlehem, PA
Reviews:
·RCN CABLE
said by Dude111:

Kinda makes it suspicious like they want you to have THIER BOX cause it spies on you or something! (HEY IT COULD BE!!)

I think it is more prosaic than that. For instance RCN offers an $79.99 Includes 3 Digital Converters & modem for internet and 225 channels (71 in HD). But the digital converters only deliver standard definition.

In order to upgrade to HD you must pay $12/month per TV for a set top box. A consumer with 4 televisions may elect to get one $12 HD box and keep 3 std definition boxes, but he could still watch OTA channels in HD on those TV's with Clear QAM. Without that option he must upgrade all four TV's with new set top boxes to see any HD channels.

Profit on this household is vastly increased by paying a premium for extra equipment.

This argument that it saves the consumer money by having a common interfaces is total BS. The cable company refused to service problems if the TV was connected with clear QAM anyway. They told me resolutely that they would not support this connection.