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Television used to be simple

Despite the things I've been hearing from my cow-orkers and family members, the FCC has proposed 2009 as the deadline to change from analog to digital television, and it looks like Congress is going to sign that into law. So, all of you who thought your television was going to stop working soon - don't worry.

Here in San Angelo, the local cable company (sure, there's theoretically more than one, but get real) has been in a pissing contest with the local CBS affiliate since the beginning of the year. This has resulted in no CBS channel available on the cable system, free rabbit-ears antennas for cable subscribers that ask for them, and a striking rise in the use of satellite television receivers.

I don't get the satellite thing. Of course, I don't get the fascination with digital cable either. Both of them force something on the consumer that is, in my mind, unacceptable - the adapter. This is nothing less than an external tuner, rendering the tuners in my television and VCR useless. Many people wonder why I think this is a bad thing. This can be summed up in one of the marketing points for the local Dish Network folks - they brag about allowing you to have televisions in up to five rooms in your house. Allowing you to have them, you see? Because, unlike television as broadcast over the airwaves of old, the satellite provider now controls your usage of the signal.

No longer can you watch one thing and record another - oh no, your VCR has to be connected to a second external tuner to record something that you are not watching in that room at that moment. Ah, but then the Dish folks point out they are offering a free DVR upgrade, so you can record the full digital signal of other shows directly on this magical box. Ah, but can you? When the television industry is trying to get legislation passed to allow the Broadcast Flag to rise from the dead, when Tivo now puts commercials on you recorder while you're trying to skip commercials, when the broadcasters are coercing the DVR manufacturers to disallow permanent archiving of shows... Well, I don't trust a DVR that I don't control 100%, and the DVR from Dish network would be a DRMed, MPAA-friendly, unexpandable, unchangeable piece of junk to me.

I don't understand why so many people find it acceptable to cede control of the airwaves to the content providers. There is a balance in copyright law; the citizens are assumed to have some rights too, not just the people in Hollywood.

So, until I can use a standard tuner in a standard television or DVR or computer tuner card, I'll stick with analog, thanks.

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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 31st, 2005 02:29 am (UTC)
You see, I think the challenge you describe here is something that you experience because you are using blended technologies. To make matters worse, it seems you do have the personal experiences necessary to have a "blended conciousness" as you consider the technical dilemna that you face.

Take, for example, the lamend of the external adapter "rendering the tuners in my television and VCR useless." and the subsequent discussion of DVRs, control, air-wave signals, and broadcaster angst.
A nice tv-monitor (no need for a tuner), a good brand name dvr, (and it's just a hard drive), several hundred hours of recording capability, inputs for your video camera and digital camera, and a satelite dish. Add a simple decoder for some theoretical second tv in the basement and you're good to go.

Reduce clicker population in the family room and ensure good quality recording... wohoo!!! I love digital tv signals.
Aug. 31st, 2005 02:39 am (UTC)
I think my big issue is the current lack of standards in digital signals. We have the cable companies and satellite companies sending digital signals, encrypted so only their tuners can decrypt them, and only for specific times. Eventually, every current digital tuner needs to be reset with new codes to decrypt the content. So, the good brand name DVR is still controlled by someone other than me, the signal coming is in controlled by someone other than me, and I still need two or more non-standard tuners controlled by a theoretically helpful company (which is in league with the motion picture industry's bizarre DRM schemes) in order to watch one show and record a second one. What if I want to record TWO shows while watching a third? KABOOM! My head just exploded.

I think the television industry is counting on most consumers being the same folks who not only don't know how to program their VCR, but never even care to. I wonder about IPTV....
Aug. 31st, 2005 02:42 am (UTC)
Oh, and I'd prefer not to buy all new equipment, when I'm not Croesus. :)
Aug. 31st, 2005 02:46 am (UTC)
nice reference...
(after my google moment with Croesus)
Aug. 31st, 2005 02:50 am (UTC)
I had to Google the spelling. Darned Mediterranean countries with their "o before e except when we feel like it" spelling rules...
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )