overhaul / undertow

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

visit this site

This is a straight-up bite from my friend Jake's website.

If you're interested in witty and insightful daily updates of current events and news regarding consumer rights, civil liberties, our "perpetual war," consumerism/capitalism/media consolidation/spin/ad culture, the existential quandary of postmodernism from a socio-political slant (sorry, lapsed into my university writing days there a sec), et al, and all boiled down into concise, easy-to-understand, lucid and drily funny terse bites, well, this is the site to visit every fucking day. Seriously.

If my site is one little facet of the effects of postmodernism and contemporary culture on one unique indivudual's ups and down, the sine wave of personal life, well, his is the big picture, the context within which it is all occuring.

I post this 'cos I don't have a tv. Well, I do, but par for the course for me, it's tinier than a small computer monitor and gets no reception. You can watch videos on it--I have an antiquated vcr the size of a small aircraft carrier with about as much metal content--but only if you sit, like, a foot away.

I'm happy this way. I'm a young woman who lives alone (well, I have a wonderful roomie, but in essense we live parallel, coexisting lives, and are rarely around at the same time--even tho its hella fun when we are; I linked to her on the sidebar) in a big city. A big often scary city. When I first moved in, I was alone, with no roommate, and I was petrified. Every shadow was an intruder. Every time i came home I had to check the closets, the shower stalls, the corners and under beds, to ensure no one was hiding.

Why? TV news. In LA especially--but in all local tv news I guess--the emphasis is on the titillating sensationalism of issues like rape and abductions, attacks and stalkings. I won't even go off on why i think the public laps this up--ref. slasher films with their overemphasis on linking sexuality with violence--but I think it sucks.

In Hollywood if you don't have cable you can't get any reception, especially here in the Hollywood Hills. I cut off my cable.

My night terrors stopped. Now I can't be bothered with the damn box.

Still, I am sickened by the following information. So often Jake brings me very important information, but I'll be damned if the lot of it doesn't just piss me off wholeheartedly.

I (Don't) Want My DTV!

It's always fun to watch political folks flip-flop, lie, or otherwise try to reconcile two policies they support which exactly contradict each other. While FCC chair Michael Powell talks a good game about letting the market rule the airwaves, the FCC has recently mandated that all new televisions come equipped with digital tuners by 2007. Digital tuners will be for DTV signals, that allegedly will have better picture and all that. It'll also add around $250 to the cost of each television set.

But wait, there's more!

House Representative Billy Tauzin (who is firmly in the entertainment industry's pocket) has proposed a DTV bill to Congress that would eliminate all analog TV broadcasts by 2007. Meaning that if you want to watch television in 2007, you will have to go out and buy a brand new DTV. And if you want to videotape anything off the television, you will need to go out and buy a new DTV-compatible VCR.

Is the quality of DTV that much higher? No. Prof. Russ Neuman of the Annenberg School for Communication did a study several years ago where he set two televisions at one end of a room, one DTV one regular TV. He had people come in at what would be regular viewing distance, and see if they could tell which was which. For the most part, they couldn't.

(I wish I had documentation for the above, but I don't. Neuman was a professor of mine when I attended ASC, and he described the experiment to us during a class lecture. I have been unable to find the report on the internet, but if I do, I'll will post the link here.)

But back to the legislation. Why is this happening? Is it just a big government giveaway to television and VCR manufacturers, to give them a big sales boost come 2007? Perhaps, but there's more to it than that.

It's called a "broadcast flag". It's a small code that can be embedded into a DTV signal that prevents your home VCR from recording a program, and/or sending it to your friends over the internet. Tauzin's vision of DTV makes wide use of broadcast flags.

So that's it. The TV and movie industry, afraid they won't get your dollars because you might conceivably record their programming off the television, have bought legislators to tell you that you have to spend extra money on a new television and new VCR that will actually limit your viewing options. Fuckers.

For more detail, you can read this report from the Consumer Federation of America.


Thanks, Jake!


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