If you're one of the millions who enjoy free pristine HDTV over the air using an antenna, the party could soon be over.
That's because a new study from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) says that only eight percent of households get their TV from an antenna, and that the spectrum could be better used for broadband wireless signals.
While the CEA insists that broadcasters would only be asked to return the spectrum on a voluntary basis, the press release fails to mention that the stations would also share in the proceeds of an auction to sell off the bandwidth. So in essence, the broadcasters would get a one time windfall profit by selling something they got for free in the first place.
Over the air HDTV is one greatest free things we have left in this country. Yet because consumers are just about the only people who benefit, it remains a well hidden secret. Unlike in the old days of analog TV when most over the air reception was subject to fuzzy interference and ghosting, when you get a digital signal, it's usually perfect HD that outperforms almost any cable or satellite signal. I have personally convinced my mother and a good friend to dump their cable for free HDTV, and in both cases they got 40-50 channels of perfect signals, about half of them in superb HD.
Sure we need more bandwidth for portable devices, but I don't think swiping it from the TV spectrum is going to win the CEA many fans. Perhaps they should think a bit more about who the first word in their name represents.