Sunday, October 26, 2003

Over the air, in the clear

You might say that the current spectrum/media morass the US is in today began with a congressional mandate, designed to *weaken* the then brand new TV companies, that any television signal broadcast over the air, had to be broadcast "in the clear" -- that is, without any encryption. I guess the idea was that everyone should have access to TV at zero cost. The effect of this was to slow down the deployment of cable (when that came around) and then to slow down the deployment of satellite (when that came around) and to transform media from something consumers value and pay for to a way to aggregate eyeballs and sell to advertisers, with the predictable consequences for program quality.

Within the media biz, everyone pretty much believes that free, over-the-air TV broadcasts are dead, and that folks will get their content from cable, satellite, or something else like that. The idiotic digital TV boondoggle seems to mandate a digital flag for over the air broadcasts, essentially saying that "in the clear" is finally going away after all. Good riddance.


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