said by camper: said by bohratom:
Correct me if I am wrong but Fox and other local broadcast stations are charging providers now for the content. ...
You are wrong.
If anyone pays, it is usually the local broadcasters who have to pay the cable companies to carry their signals.
What you are thinking of is the satellite-based content providers for the basic and semi-basic cable packages.
Almost every affiliate carrying NBC, CBS, Fox, and ABC are charging sat and cable for carriage of their signal, not the other way around. I know of not one single affiliate whom is paying a sat/cable company to carry them, while the opposite (sat/cable paying to carry an affiliate) is "the norm".
A simple web search pulled these two within seconds of effort:
said by camper:
Your optimism that more restrictions will force the cable companies to provide better picture quality has been proven wrong by the cable companies themselves.
The clearQAM signals take up only a minor portion of their bandwidth. If the cable companies really wanted to provide a better signal, they had the entire non-clearQAM bandwidth in which to do so.
But they have not done so.
There is one avenue of optimism that has not yet "been proven wrong". Time to adopt will be very large, though, as all current equipment that is not capable of different compression will need to die through attrition before implementation. The accessibility barrier is just one step to many, so "realization" is decades away.
The FCC is about to allow encryption on the "life line", regulated, utility aspect of the product. The "local affiliates" in the B1 tier, also called "Limited Basic" or "Basic" or "non-digital" or "Life-line" is the only portion of cable TV that can be regulated by government. This regulation, from how much can be charged to compensation/fines incurred for increased "down time", is in the jurisdiction of "Franchise Agreements". Many of these are lawful due to non-competitive market penetration. As Sat/Telco has reached a national 40% penetration level, many of the local franchise agreements are losing their regulatory jurisdiction. There was a string of posts 2 years ago of different court battles Comcast was winning removing them from the jurisdiction of these franchise agreements due to satellite penetration in certain areas.
If the FCC nationally allows encryption on this regulated portion, even in areas where the agreements are still lawful and binding due to lack of competitive penetration, the best a local government can do is force equipment at low/free cost to be given to consumers. This opens a restriction that has been placed on cable companies: compatibility. Today, QAM16, 64, 256 modulated MPEG2 compressed signals are required for digital carriage on the utility/regulated portion (in those areas where jurisdiction is still lawful). If the FCC allows encryption, devices to decrypt will be necessary, devices that are capable of more than MPEG2. This then curbs local jurisdictions from forcing MPEG2 and other compression methods can be used without fines/compensation owed to both protected classes and the utility portion of the service as "availability to view" will not be affected if switched away from MPEG2 as the decompression device will be known by the carrier: it will be their equipment doing the decompression instead of a Philips QAM/ATSC integrated TV tuner chip which only included MPEG2 decompression to curb cost.
Of course, this is not the sole reason why MPEG2 is still utilized by most NCTA members. Cost is. The return on investment to swap expensive head-end equipment, both in physical cost and licensing fees, is poor. This move is to remove one of many cost barriers to future adoption. Mpeg4 may never come to cable, by the time the "switch" has positive ROI, the ITU will have adopted Mpeg4's successor. HEVC is on schedule to be adopted in January 2013, a time-frame that is less than what would be needed to swap cable to H.264. HEVC is capable of using AVC High Profile compression with half the bit-rate of H.264 and is a codec capable of handling Ultra HD (4320i60 and 4320p30). The time and cost to switch to MPEG4 now is silly, when H.262 is still competitive with H.264 due to 1080i being acceptable. By 2020, the cost of maintaining an older H.262 system will be far greater than using HEVC, and it is foreseen that by then 1080p will no longer be "true" HD, as we will have moved to the next level. If 16x9 aspect ratio is adhered to, 2K (2048x1152) or 4K (4096x2304) will have been adopted to match cinematic quality that is in use today. This "push" for consumers is still alive and well: home theater, especially mainstream affordable home theater, is not predicted to die off any time soon.
The "encryption" barrier also removes the "accessibility" barrier far in the future. It now equalizes the entire line-up and begins the removal of "utility" level and "luxury" level splits within the product offered, lowering cost to make changes from channel 2 to 999 without legal wrangling and equipment compatibility concerns. The move is more than just the short-term reward of less cost to shut-down/turn-on service through physical consumer premise traps. It also has long-term implications of allowing the entire product MSO's offer to be "luxury", removing many government jurisdictions that are almost always "barriers" due to "cost to comply". If the FCC had any inkling of being pro-consumer, just once, this could be seen as negative. However the FCC is not pro-consumer, they are pro-market allowing B2B to use the signals on CEA bought devices. No impact here. Reality still exists: future equipment will be needed to access future entertainment at ever increasing costs to consumers who may or may not perceive "new" as "better".--
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