Dish Network/directv will downconvert HD signals until 2010-2013, (1 Viewer)

dennispap

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http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6543480.html?industryid=47199

Plan Allows Satellite Giants To Down Convert HD Signals For Years


By Ted Hearn -- Multichannel News, 3/19/2008 6:40:00 PM

Washington -- DirecTV and Dish Network have won major concessions from the Federal Communications Commission on the carriage of local TV signals in HD format following completion of broadcasters’ digital transition early next year, FCC and industry officials said Wednesday.

DirecTV and Dish Network struck a deal with the FCC that was far better than the HD carriage rules the FCC imposed on all cable operators, regardless of size, last September.

The five-member FCC did not announce the vote or release the text of the rules on Wednesday.

An FCC official said the vote was unanimous.

The National Association of Broadcasters, which did not return requests for comment, is probably going to be unhappy because the FCC plans to allow DirecTV and Dish to down convert broadcasters’ HD signals to a less pristine picture resolution for several years.

The satellite giants-which combined serve about 30 million pay-TV subscribers-convinced FCC officials that they lacked the channel capacity to provide every eligible station in HD immediately. They insisted that they needed several years to prepare for a full HD carriage requirement.

HD signals stress capacity because they take up much more bandwidth than digital signal transmitted at lower resolution.

The FCC’s HD rules for satellite were far more lenient than the ones originally proposed by FCC chairman Kevin Martin. He started off at full HD carriage in February 2009, coupled with a market-by-market waiver process.

Martin scuttled his original plan after DirecTV and Dish Network complained that it was draconian and damaging to their ability to compete with cable.

Instead, the FCC decided to give DirecTV and EchoStar until 2013 to carry all stations in HD within any market where they have elected to carry any station's signal in HD format.

The “carry one, carry all in HD” principle kicks in when a satellite company starts carrying local signals in HD. DirecTV’s decision to carry local TV signals in HD does not force Dish to do likewise in the same market.

All the FCC demanded was that DirecTV and Dish comply with its benchmarks.

For example, by Feb. 17, 2010, DirecTV and Dish Network need to provide full HD carriage in 15% of their HD markets. Dish Network has 35 HD markets today. If a 15% quota were in place today, EchoStar would have a “carry one, carry all in HD” obligation in just 5 markets.

The benchmark jumps to 30% in the second year, 60% in the third and 100% in the fourth.

Because the FCC didn’t specify the markets that had to be served, DirecTV and Dish Network are free to pursue a large-market strategy, which could keep rural consumers waiting a long time for their local TV signals in HD via satellite.

With regard to cable, the FCC imposed a much harsher regime on every cable operator without exception. The agency required cable carriage of TV signals in digital and analog formats for three years with respect to any station that demands cable carriage after Feb. 17, 2009.

The FCC also insisted that cable systems pass through HD feeds, potentially leading to triple carriage in some cases.

The FCC did exempt all-digital cable systems; but since so few are actually all-digital, the exemption was almost worthless.

In February, major cable TV programmers, including C-SPAN, Discovery Communications and The Weather Channel, sued the FCC in a federal appeals court over the digital TV station carriage mandates.

With respect to small cable systems-which made the same channel-crunch concerns as DirecTV and Dish Network-the FCC, at Martin's insistence, refused to show any flexibility. Martin would not accommodate even mom-and-pop cable companies with a blanket waiver to carry DTV “must carry” signals in analog only for a period of years.

Instead, these small cable outfits need to hire D.C. lawyers to file waivers at the FCC.

Martin explained his attitude last year when he told a House subcommittee that he thought the cable industry wanted to use the digital TV transition as an "excuse" to remove TV stations from their systems.

Cable never argued that. It said that as a legal matter, all cable operators had to do was carry DTV signals once and provide set-tops to requesting customers, just as customers needed to acquire analog TV sets to view local TV signals that the FCC forces cable to carry.

To assist with the DTV transition, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association volunteered in congressional testimony to comply with dual must carry for three years, coupled with an exemption for small cable systems.

DirecTV and Dish Network caught another big break from the FCC.

At least for the time being, if digital TV stations demand HD carriage, the satellite carriers are not required to provide a standard definition copy to customers that do not have HD set-top boxes. In others words, none of the dual must carry obligations that the FCC imposed on cable would apply to DirecTV and Dish.

The FCC will study DBS dual must carry in a further notice of proposed rulemaking, also adopted Tuesday night.
 

Primus

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That is a long post.

IMO all that means is that after the digital transition there will be smaller markets that are broadcasting in HD but Dish will not have them available yet via HD. Dish will not upgrade their signals from SD to HD until they have to.
 

ts7

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For example, by Feb. 17, 2010, DirecTV and Dish Network need to provide full HD carriage in 15% of their HD markets. Dish Network has 35 HD markets today. If a 15% quota were in place today, EchoStar would have a “carry one, carry all in HD” obligation in just 5 markets.

Wouldn't this hurt the major markets more than the small ones? It would seem to me from a bandwidth standpoint, it would make sense for Dish (or DirecTV) to apply the carry one, carry all mandate to the smallest markets (those with only the 4 major networks).

I'm guessing a single major market like Chicago, LA or New York might have more stations than the 5 smallest markets combined. :confused:
 

jayn_j

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Not that simple. Larger markets often, but not always have more stations that would be affected. Look at this chart of stations with current difgital broadcasts, sorted by DMA
DTV Stations in Operation

NY has 23 stations affected by must-carry. It is a big enough market, that it will probably happen early. However, Atlanta (#8) with 12 must carry stations will likely go compliant before San Francisco (#6) with 23 must carry stations.

As you go further down the list, it gets more interesting. I would expect Laredo, Tx (#188, 3 stations) to go full HD long before Minot, ND (#158, 9 stations)
 

Jim5506

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Local cable companies only need to carry the local channels in HD. Satellite providers must eventually carry every Tom, Dick and Harry station nationwide that is HD in HD. A much larger bandwidth problem.

Just for argument's sake, lets say the overall average of stations per DMA is 6. For the 214 or so DMA's that means Dish/Direct need to uplink nearly 1300 HD stations. Mongo bandwidth required @ 8 channels per TP in MPEG4 were looking at over 120 transponders tied up with local HD. Your cable co in NYC has to do 23.
 

John Kotches

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Local cable companies only need to carry the local channels in HD. Satellite providers must eventually carry every Tom, Dick and Harry station nationwide that is HD in HD. A much larger bandwidth problem.

Just for argument's sake, lets say the overall average of stations per DMA is 6. For the 214 or so DMA's that means Dish/Direct need to uplink nearly 1300 HD stations. Mongo bandwidth required @ 8 channels per TP in MPEG4 were looking at over 120 transponders tied up with local HD. Your cable co in NYC has to do 23.

1300 / 8 == 162.5

Multiply that by two as both Dish and Direct have to have copies of the same station.

This is why a joint LiL company would make great sense. It probably won't happen though.

Cheers,
 

Hall

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This ruling, if I'm correct, doesn't "give" Dish rights to carry the digital locals automatically come Feb 2009. If Dish doesn't have an agreement to carry a city's digital channels today (usually only referred to as the HD channels), they still need to negotiate a contract. Do they not ?

And FWIW, Dish already does this down-convert with some "analog" locals. My local NBC's analog channel, WDTN, is a simulcast of their digital channel, not their analog channel. That's likely an arrangement that was done between the station and Dish.
 

tnsprin

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Under the old analog rules, the don't need to negotiate must carry stations. A station that wants must carry, also must essentially make their signal available. Some stations choice not to be must carry. Digital rules are "probably" going to be similar.

And the title of the thread is wrong. They have the right to downconvert HD signals until 2010-2013, but undoubtably will choice to do some station in some markets as HD sooner.
 

Chris Freeland

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Remember E* and D* will still have to carry all local channels in the DMA's that they now carry including SD ones after 2009, this ruling only effects the ones that broadcast in HD. The big 4 nets and possibly CW will want compensation of some kind. D* has already agreed with PBS to carry many of the local PBS channels in HD, and E* will have to do this as well. Other words the major network affiliates and PBS will not be part of must carry, but these are the ones people want the most and D* and E* will have to pay to get them. The channels that may choose HD must carry, consist primarily with ION, Indy, religious and shopping channels, how many of these will actually broadcast in HD? I doubt many will, most of these will multi cast and unless the rules change, D*and E* will not be forced to carry these, only the primary channel.
 

Hall

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Remember E* and D* will still have to carry all local channels in the DMA's that they now carry including SD ones after 2009
Why do you say that ??
...this ruling only effects the ones that broadcast in HD.
Stations don't "broadcast in HD". They broadcast in either digital or analog. If that's how you base the first part that I quoted, then you're confused.
 

Chris Freeland

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Why do you say that ?? Stations don't "broadcast in HD". They broadcast in either digital or analog. If that's how you base the first part that I quoted, then you're confused.

All I am saying is that E* and D* have to carry all channels in market's that they serve that request must carry, this will not change when the analog signals are shut off in February 2009. They most certainly do, not all digital channels broadcast in HD, some multi-cast about 6 channels in SD 24/7 instead. This latest FCC ruling is only talking about those digital channels that do have HD at least some of the time.
 

Hall

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I guess I need to read the actual text of this ruling, but for now, I don't believe for a second that the FCC is touching anything related to "HD". They see it as either analog or digital.
 

Chris Freeland

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I guess I need to read the actual text of this ruling, but for now, I don't believe for a second that the FCC is touching anything related to "HD". They see it as either analog or digital.

The ruling deals specifically on HD, the reason the FCC is dealing with this is because after February 2009 their will only be digital signals for the satellite companies to pick up and D* and E* will downconvert the HD signal to SD on any channel D* and E* decide not to carry in HD. Digital in general will already be covered buy the current carry one carry all rule as soon as the analog signal is turned off.
 

jayn_j

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The FCC ruling was specifically about down-rezzing HD signals. Everything is digital OTA next year, so analog vs digital is moot. The question is whether the sats can downrez to 480i/p to conserve bandwidth.

John and others, the satellite providers answer to the bandwidth problem is spotbeams. It is still a sticky problem, but not nearly so bad when a set of transponders can be reused 8-10 times in different parts of the country.
 

jayn_j

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1300 / 8 == 162.5

Multiply that by two as both Dish and Direct have to have copies of the same station.

This is why a joint LiL company would make great sense. It probably won't happen though.

Cheers,

It probably won't happen because of the installed base. My understanding is that even unencrypted stations cannot be shared with the existing receivers.

And for that matter, why limit it to LILs? Put everything up in shared space by a shared corporation and then have DTV and DISH lease access. Kind of like the old C-band model.

Makes you kind of wonder what could be done with all that freed up bandwidth if everything was consolidated onto 101/110/119.
 

glen242

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Jun 13, 2007
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Why don't we try something new! Let's let the satellite companies, cable companies, phone companies compete on their own merits rather than following directives from Washington (even though THEY know what is best for us).

The companies with the best picture, most channels, best price, should thrive in a FREE MARKET economy. Regardless of what Washington says. Given a choice of services what would you subscribe to? A company that down rezes their picture or a company that gives you a cutting edge product. When it is your bucks, and you vote with your bucks, you will do what is best for you.

How long, in a free market, would you expect E* or D* to hold on to their market share, if the other service started down rezing?

Think about it in light of the posts now on Satellite Guys i.e. "I'm leaving because (whoever) has more HD content than my other guy."
 

GOHAWKS

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Dec 29, 2005
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Perhaps I'm not understanding, but what about this, I live in Sioux City Iowa, Dish currently has my locals abc, cbs, nbc, in SD only, they do broadcast in HD but Dish has chosen not to pick up yet [who knows when] come 2009 when my locals shut off there analog signal, how does this affect my locals I receive from dish being they haven't and probably won't pick up there HD before then.
Will I lose them then if dish hasn't pick them up in HD
Sorry if this really isn't the correct thread for this question.
 

Hall

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GOHAWKS, it's my opinion that Dish still needs to negotiate a carriage agreement with the stations in order to carry the digital channels instead of the currently carried analog stations. Then again, it almost sounds like they simply get the digital channels under the terms that they currently get the analogs they're carrying, except they have to down-rez them. I really don't know (yet).....
 

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