Tuesday, August 6, 2013

At this point, seeing even inaccurate coverage of OTA television seems like a triumph

This Marketplace story does leave a bit to be desired in terms of accuracy and completeness. In the audio version, the reporter, Sally Herships, like almost everyone covering this story, seems confused by digital versus amplified antennas and TV antennas versus satellite leading her to greatly overstate the price range of the equipment -- think under $10 if you don't need amplification (if not cheaper) -- and she failed to mention that the picture quality is actually better for free TV or that, in the region being discussed, you can get close to one hundred channels over the air or that with an adapter you can watch and digitally record those channels on you laptop.

All of that aside, this is still a story about doing without cable (or at least certain channels on cable), airing on one of the biggest and most respected financial news programs and it lists rabbit ears as the first option. I've been following this story closely for years now and I honestly can't recall this happening before. There have been a few voices in the wilderness on the subject -- Rajiv Sethi being perhaps the first and most notable -- but that was the blogosphere. A story like this in mainstream media is a very promising development, particularly given that the last time I heard the topic broached on Marketplace it was immediately dismissed by their guest expert (from the NYT, of course) who claimed that you can only get "a handful of channels" with an antenna in LA.

The story digital broadcasting has always come down to the question of whether the superior technology could establish a foothold before regulatory capture and the huge imbalance of hype drove it out of business. In that context, this is a good day for the medium.

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