The End of TV? How to Avoid a Revolution when the Feds Shut off Analog TV, Lessons from Europe.
You may have heard that Congress will soon impose a hard date for the shut-off of analog TV broadcasts in the U.S. -- February 17, 2009. And you may have heard that their solution has been, well, let's say its less than satisfying if you don't want to pony up the monthy cash for a subscription service. Could Congress have done anything else? Consider the following article, written by yours truly last year. For the full text, you need to have access to LEXIS or WESTLAW (oh, how ironic!). [Or, if you're really nice to me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you a hard copy.]
Here's the abstract as published by CommLaw Conspectus and a link to their home page.
THE ROAD TO ANALOG SWITCH-OFF: HOW THE UNITED STATES CAN TURN OFF ITS ANALOG TELEVISION SERVICE WITHOUT SIGNIFICANT SERVICE DISRUPTION
The article argues that, based on the lessons learned from Germany and Great Britain, the cessation of analog service need not be sudden, harsh or disorienting. To accomodate consumers who rely either exclusively on over the air reception or subscribe to ditigal tv service for only one household tv, the author argues for some means to subsidize the purchase of set top converters for these types of consumers. The article argues for a gradual cessation of analog service where analog service would be shut off on a rolling geographic or market basis, coupled with a gradual decrease in power levels over time. As in many European nations, the article argues for adequate and continuing publicity about the switch from analog to digital. Finally, the article argues for the private industry to replicate an equivalent in the U.S. of Great Britain's Freeview service--a freely-available package of digital multichannel programming that has successfully been driving consumer adoption of digital television in that country.
And here's the actual, full introduction to the article with more detail.
The American media landscape is undergoing a fundamental transformation as the television broadcast service transitions to a wholly digital infrastructure. Initiated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1987, and subsequently amended and modified by a series of FCC orders and Congressional acts, including the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, the digital television (DTV) transition promises to revolutionize television. The inherent flexibility of DTV allows for the transmission of high-definition programming or the simultaneous transmission of multiple standard definition programming as well as ancillary data delivery. This flexibility can bring a new range of wireless entertainment and educational experiences to the American public that were not possible before.
Moreover, the DTV transition will require the return of 108 MHz of analog TV spectrum in the 700 MHz band back to the federal government and a repacking of the TV band into the core of channels 2 through 51. A portion of the former TV channels at 700 MHz is slated to be assigned for public safety purposes (24 MHz at the spectrum between 764 MHz through 806 MHz), while the remaining portion will be assigned for advanced wireless purposes through existing auction procedures. As a result, a successful DTV transition has the potential to enhance public safety, encourage the deployment of innovative wireless services to the American public, provide an estimated $4-17 billion to the U.S. Treasury and contribute an even greater amount – estimated to be between $30-60 billion annually -- to the
To bring about a successful transition to DTV, Congress has mandated, and the FCC has implemented, a highly complex plan that involves the allocation of a second DTV channel to nearly all incumbent full power television broadcasters, the mandated build-out of digital facilities (and penalties for non-compliance), the creation of numerous service rules for digital broadcasts, limited cable carriage of DTV broadcast signals, and the eventual reclamation of channels used for analog transmission by the end of 2006 with market-by-market extensions allowed in cases where 15% or more households cannot receive the digital signals of over-the-air television stations.
Only recently, however, have lobbyists and policymakers in
This article argues that, based on the lessons learned from
Part I of this article provides an overview of the DTV transition to date and describes the issues with which