Why Digital TV Sucks
April 27, 2005
Well, the oft-promised “end of Analog TV as we know it” is once again upon us, as Congress decides whether to keep or extend the current due date of New Year’s Eve 2006. MSNBC (hardly a disinterested party) hashes out some of the issues here.
“Congress, however, left itself a loophole in the 1996 legislation, and could actually let the cut-off date slide by. But powerful lobbyists now are pressing legislators to set a Ã¢â‚¬Å“date certainÃ¢â‚¬Â for the analog lights-out. The debate over when to throw the switch is a strange brew of big money, high technology, homeland security and a single, unanswerable question: just how angry are the couch potatoes going to be? ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also a textbook example of why the future almost never happens as fast as technologists promise.”
Of course, what they don’t mention is that all of this would be much more palatable if they weren’t trying to control the way we watch television by shoving various DRM schemes down our throat.
I’m all for digital TV. Heck, I don’t watch a single TV signal here unless it’s been mangled by at least one CPU after it’s come into the house. If it all arrived digitally, that’d be even better — it’d make it easier to slice it and dice it and watch TV the way I want to watch it.
The problem is that the content producers have figured out that if the signal is digital, then THEY can control the way I watch it (no slicing, no dicing, no damn julianne fries either) as long as they can encourage / bribe / strongarm the government and the equipment manufacturers into thinking they have the God-given right to control how we consume content, and handing all the controls over to them.
I suspect somewhere some of these clowns invision some sort of Clockwork Orange-esque scene where we’re all strapped to chairs with our “glassies” prized open and forced to watch inane commercials until blood, spinal fluid and credit card numbers spew from our every orifice.
Thus we have the DMCA, the Broadcast Flag, DRM schemes out the wazoo, and our civil servants being recruited as Hollywood’s enforcement arm, paid by us.
Digital content is like starting a relationship with a hot supermodel, only to find that she’s a card-carrying facist with more baggage than a suitcase store.
You know what, if your revenue models are antiquated and you are rapidly being disintermediated by technology, then change your business model — don’t offer me a handful of “features” with fifty thousand feet of strings attached and then ask the government to make sure they all stay knotted.
There have been a million good suggestions as to how Hollywood (and the music industry, but that’s another rant) can embrace these changes and make more money then ever. If they don’t want to take any of them, then fine – they can sit there and become extinct for all I care.
In the meantime they can leave those analog signals right where they are. Pretty soon someone will get a clue and come up with a digital distribution mechanism that doesn’t suck, and doesn’t treat us all like were kleptomaniac fifth graders, and it will all become moot anyway.