[mythtv-users] FCC Broadcast Digital Channel Requirements

Brian Wood beww at beww.org
Fri Aug 22 19:52:31 UTC 2008

Chase Douglas wrote:
> On Aug 22, 2008, at 2:31 PM, David Schlenk wrote:
$7 a month to get those. And then they'd have to be in the clear.
> From what I have read online, though I can't find any specific
> regulation (which may be because there is no such regulation), the FCC
> only mandates that one version of a broadcast channel is transmitted in
> the clear. The analog version counts, so they don't have to transmit the
> digital channel.

The conventional wisdom is that all the cable companies will eventually
move to all digital, primarily because it allows for the carriage of
more channels. If this happens they will of course have to carry the
locals as unencrypted digital.

A lot of systems already carry the locals in the clear, after all it's
usually just a DIP switch or a setup parameter, and it doesn't cost them
any revenue. I suspect that the cases where local digital channels are
being encrypted are caused by either ignorance on the part of the
technical staff or old-school "encrypt everything" thinking on the part
of higher-ups.

There are a lot of TV sets out there with clear-QAM demodulators, and I
think a lot of folks will get upset if they can't use that feature.

> Secondly, the station may opt for retransmission consent instead of
> must-carry. I am not positive if this impacts channel encryption, but I
> have learned that the FOX/ABC affiliate here (they are the same
> company...) have their digital channels through retransmission consent
> instead of must-carry.

This should not make any difference, as long as they are "significantly
viewed" local off-air stations.

> All of this may change significantly in november once the analog cutoff
> occurs, but I'm not holding up any hope of receiving HD broadcast of ABC
> and FOX through my pcHDTV anymore...

If the local station is broadcasting only in HD then the cable company
must carry it as HD. The problem is, how much degradation due to
processing by the cable company is allowed before it is considered no
longer the same thing that was originally transmitted?

Anything set up by a combination of the government and the cable
companies is likely to be pretty screwed up though.


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