Ostrow: Oldies find new life as TV subchannels mine classics


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It's good to see old become new again. There's a lot of great old programming available as I noted in my review of AntennaTV, and whole generations that have never seen it. As the article notes, there's some campy stuff, but what would the original "Batman" series be without camp?

I'm sure there is an element of the FCC giving (not so) vague "use it or loose it" warnings in these station's sub-channel decision making process. As Trip pointed out, there's actually little surplus spectrum to be had. These channels are trying to prove the worth of their licenses, and keep their spectrum.

The promise of OTA HDTV and sub channels cannot be fulfilled unless there is content available. These networks, or "Syndication services" as the Post calls them, did not exist before the transition. Eventually there will be more, and more original sub-channels, but it takes time for the industry to move, and two years is a very short time indeed. In these few short years, OTA TV has gone from typically a half dozen+ snowy analog channels to 30+ digital channels, with many in HD. Even the SD channels have better sound and picture than the analogs had - and better even than SD cable. The FCC needs to wait for the industry to build out and mature before killing OTA. Face it, if you can only get a dozen channels OTA, most people will pay for 120 channels. But with over 30 choices, and up to 60 in some markets, OTA is a viable alternative to pay TV.

Is it any wonder, then, that the Pay TV industry is running scared (Well, soon. Most are still in denial) and the wireless broadband / pay TV quasi-monopolies are pressuring the FCC to steal OTA spectrum for this imaginary "Spectrum Crisis"?

If TV spectrum is cut, channels will be fewer, less people will watch, and the FCC will again claim that "nobody's watching OTA" and proceed to grab more and more until the current FCC goal of eliminating OTA TV altogether is achieved. It's their self - fulfilling prophecy.