a shot in the arm?

November 5, 2009 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

I can still remember
It wasn’t long ago.
Things you used to tell me,
You said I had to know.

On October 28th, 2009 the Wall Street Journal featured an article in the business section titled FCC Considers Shifting Some TV Airwaves to Broadband. In it, the author Amy Schatz, reported that “Federal regulators are considering taking back some airwaves from television broadcasters and auctioning them off to wireless companies to increase the availability of wireless broadband services.”

The proposal suggests that some of the bandwidth allocated to broadcasters may be rescinded in order to sustain the presumably rapid growth of mobile bandwidth demands.

Where does that leave the interested parties?

As a broadcaster, how would I justify the very recent investment of capital into infrastructure to deliver DTV (both HD and SD). It has cost money in an environment where the value of broadcast advertising is being seriously questioned. As a cable or satellite service provider it may mean more customers, but who’s going to pay for local content acquisition and long haul/uplink?

As a consumer, I have in some cases reluctantly acquired a new expensive TV or have been provided with a subsidized converter box in order to receive the free to air signals mandated and administered by the authorities.

So, where would the audience go? Would it migrate to broadband and pay for what used to be free-to-air? In a paid broadband environment, what would be the role of government authorities like the FCC? Would different standards apply to what used to be free-to-air and paid channels? Who would subsidize the connection costs? What does it do to the concept of the public commons?

Clearly, this would add even more confusion to the already vague business models. Many, many more questions come to mind.

Whatever happens, you can be sure that regardless of the transport layer, digital content will be delivered via IP. Even content that would be sent over the reclaimed spectrum will eventually be delivered via IP (think 4G). Seems like regardless of the decision, IP delivery of content marches inexorably onwards… A shot in the arm for IPTV?

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

Entry filed under: Media. Tags: , , , .

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