Latest in Cable

Image credit:

Hey FCC, force big cable to clear our QAM!

Ben Drawbaugh

Part of the job of the FCC is to protect the interests of us, (the common HDTV enthusiast) but there are a few ways in which they leave us in the cold and the one itching at the moment is the lack of clear QAM. For as long as cable TV has existed we've been able to simply plug in our TVs and enjoy a pretty decent selection of programming, and as we move into the world of digital we are losing this ability. The problem is that almost all cable co's encrypt all their digital channels and in most areas the only digital signals not encrypted, are the ones that are also available OTA, and this only because the FCC forbids it. Sure, CableCARDs allow us to unencrypted these signals, but big cable has proven they don't want to support 'em and as a result most HDTV manufacturers have abandoned them. But, what is still included, is a clear QAM tuner and if the FCC would force big cable to send any channel in the basic tier, in the clear, then most TVs sold today could subscribe to basic digital cable without a STB or CableCARD -- and to us that'd be, real nice. The other piece of the puzzle is programming information, the broadcast industry is forced to use what is called PSIP for this and more often than not, cable co's strip this information out when they pass the signal on to the customer. The FCC should not only require cable co's to pass on PSIP info, they should force them to include -- valid and usable -- PSIP information for all clear QAM channels. This would allow TV manufactures to display the clear QAM channels -- just like analog ones have for years -- at the correct channel location and with current program information and retain the same "basic cable" experience that we've had for years. As for DRM, we don't see any reason that the FCC couldn't enforce a broadcast flag on QAM tuners, and since we're not talking about free OTA TV here, we'd bet the mandate would stick this time.

From around the web

ear iconeye icontext filevr