TV antennas making a comeback

There is no direct link between a story that TV antennas are making a comeback, the FCC's ongoing drive to take spectrum away from broadcasters--by auction or eminent domain, some believe--and the increasingly rancorous retransmission disputes between service providers and broadcasters. It is not difficult, however, to link together the pieces and come up with a cohesively scary scenario.

According to a Booth Features story, an increasing number of consumers are opting out of pay TV and into digital antennas to access multi-channel local broadcast TV. These consumers willingly overlook bad reception and the hassle of hooking up TVs with the antennas because they can't afford, or don't want to pay for, cable TV. The implication is that these viewers won't use the Internet for their video needs ... perhaps because they're also not paying for high-speed broadband data.

The scenario becomes scary if and when the FCC, which will discuss the matter at its March meeting, manages to wrangle more spectrum from broadcasters. With less spectrum, local stations will depend on service providers to deliver their signals to viewers. Service providers in this instance might also be asked to carry multiple programs from each local station, stretching their own bandwidth capabilities. And, of course, interdependency will lead to more friction and perhaps more retransmission fights.

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