nautel-tv-product-manager-fred-baumgartner
Fred Baumgartner is the former TV Product Manager for Nautel.

Fred started with AM in the 1970s, then FM, and now TV. Of all things in broadcasting, he loves transmission the most. He’s the guy with the 1954 1KW AM rig he’s slowly restoring for 160M Amateur operation; taking up the space normal people might have used for restoring a sports car. Fred loves a good idea, contemplating how to make this industry better, or an engineering puzzle.
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by Fred Baumgartner

 
Nautel-tv-update-ota-28-07-2015If you haven’t rescanned your free-over-the-air televisions in a while, you might be surprised when you do. I have Radio Shack’s smallest roof-top antenna half-way between Colorado Springs and Denver. Last year when I scanned, there were an amazing 52-services… today there are 81 (BTW, scanning radio there is 31-AM, 45-FM, 6-FM HD services). Hard to imagine that for the first two decades of cable TV, systems were limited to a dozen channels and most systems had a black-and-white camera pointed at a fish tank and weather station meters to satisfy the sporadic regulatory requirement for live local programming.

If you are a fan of vintage TV; MeTV, Antenna TV, Decades, This TV are among nationally available netlets that have found a home as sub-channels on many TV stations. Most news stations repurpose their latest newscasts for continuous rebroadcast, so where early TV might have one or two local 30-minute newscasts; news, weather and sports are available at any time of day or night. There are comedy services, do-it-yourself crafts and home improvement services, food and documentary services. Of course there are also international, religious, and community broadcast services… free TV services that run circles around what cable could do until the late 1980s. Many of these netlets have found cord cutters, seniors, and unique audiences that are growing and financially viable. Some cable systems are voluntarily adding some of these “dot-2” services to their line-up even paying retransmission fees.

Some of this may be defensive, putting stakes in the ground in preparation for repack. Most of this is because TV bandwidth is becoming increasingly valuable and there is affordable programming that brings a profitable audience. Six years after the DTV transition and maybe just ahead of a major technology upgrade, when you rescan your OTA TV you might be surprised to see how well the bandwidth is used.


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