I wrote this brief piece awhile ago for the Delt mailing list.
It's been requoted a few places, so I thought I'd toss it here for
I'll update it soon...
For those interested in a brief history of HDTV, here it is:
Here's how it went:
Broadcast Industry asks for bandwidth for HDTV
FCC says "OK, we'll set aside bandwidth for HDTV"
FCC says "What standards?"
Industry says 'No Standards Please' and come up with EIGHTEEN recommended
formats for HDTV. I am not shitting you.
FCC says "Isn't 18 different standards a bit much?"
Industry says "Shut the fuck up FCC, we know what we are doing. The
'market' will handle this!"
Consumer Electronics dudes whine "18 formats make every thing cost more,
you are fucking us!"
FCC says "OK, it's your call on standards, 18 formats is fine, infact
there are NO STANDARDS AT ALL, 'cause we are letting the 'market decide',
but you start broadcasting HDTV now or we take back the FREE bandwidth."
Industry says "What? We really just want the free bandwidth. You really
want us to do HDTV??
Congress says "Fuck you Industry. Broadcast HDTV or we'll legislate your
asses back to Sun-day!"
Industry says "We're fucked. 18 formats? Why the hell did we do that?
Let's change it."
Consumer Electronics dudes say "You ain't changing shit. We are already
building the boxes you said you wanted built."
FCC says "Yah, ya boneheads we told you 18 was too many, now you gotta
live with it."
Industry says "Well FCC, will you at least make the cable companies carry
the HDTV at no charge?"
Cable companies say "Fuck you! You gotta pay! Bwah-ha-ha-ha!"
FCC says "Yep, no federal mandated on HDTV must carry, we are letting 'the
market' handle that"
Industry says "We are so fucked. We are spending 5-10 million per TV
station in hardware alone and have 1000 HDTV viewers per city, even in
Consumer at home says "Where is my HDTV? Why does it cost so much? Fuck
it, I'm sticking with cable/DirecTV."
Consumer electronics dudes, broadcast industry, FCC, and congress all cry.
Cable companies laugh and make even bigger profits.