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February 1993


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 19 Feb 1993 11:51:10 -0500
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        I'll admit that it is kind of far-fetched, but here goes anyway:
The big thing about HDTV is that the world can be linked together by
one universal HDTV system.  The problem is that there are several different
systems being proposed by several different nations.  In order for everyone
to be on the same signal, one system will have to be accepted by everyone,
right?  So, the nation, or company that can get it's system adopted as the
world-wide standard stands to make a mess of money.
        What's the best way to show that your nation has the best system?
All you have to do is implement a HDTV system.  Japan already has one,
called Muse.  Incidentally, it's an analog system--which is another matter
entirely.  Of course, the US, or any nation for that matter, doesn't want
to lose the revenues to another country.  So now everyone wants to be the
first to set up a primo HDTV system.
        The problem in the US is that, even though we are close to perfecting
our own system--a digital one--the television industry cannot afford to 1.
scrap all its current assets in favor of new HDTV equipment, or even 2.
just buy new HDTV equipment and broadcast two signals.  Add to this the fact
that the average American consumer will not be able to afford a HDTV set by
1996--NBC's target date for demostration HDTV technology-- or by 2003--the FCC
target date for total HDTV saturation into American households.
        Why do we want to have this HDTV stuff so quick?  To win the race with
the other nations and get OUR system adopted.BUT
        1. The stations can't foot the bill themselves
        2. Neither can the household consumers
        So, what is the best way to get a total HDTV system up and running for
all the world to love?
        Government funding of the HDTV changeover.  Of course, the FCC will
oversee the whole thing, and they'll need to have total control of programming
--at least at the outset--in order to expidite the whole process.  Yet how
many times have we seen the government back out of something it already
controls?  Never.
        Thus, to me, I can see a scenario where the state controls all H
HDTV programming in the name of winning the HDTV*Space Race*, and then later
refuses to maintain that control under the argument that to open up HDTV to
the private sector would opress the lower classes.  And there you have it:
Government control of all TV--or HDTV--broadcasting, in the classic Orwellian
        I'm very sorry.  It's long-winded and I didn't mean to take up so
much space.  But there it is.  I told you it was far-fetched.
                                What do you think?
                                Buck Jordan
                                Georgia Southern University