Finally kiss ClearQAM goodbye

Dec 12 2011

It seems our poor cable companies are all suffering terribly from theft of service, hence the FCC is going to let them encrypt all the basic channels as well.     For many of us, this already happened for the HD channels and with the prevelance of the Ceton and Colossus, perhaps it's no longer a big deal for HTPC DVR fans but I have to imagine, once they win this battle, then it's on to plugging the analog hole and turning on copy-protection on all broadcasts...

 

 

Comments

If this happens in my area, it'll make me sad.  My two silicondust boxes do me well.  I'd probably break down and try using antennas with them.

My Silicondust Device does not work well OTA. Sadly. Y'know if they would just let me purchase television channels that I desired instead of gobs of stuff I have no interest to watch, I wouldn't mind paying for cable. So, for now I will remain strictly OTA and internet sourced for my entertainment. My own personal stance against over-priced entertainment.

Mast3rL33 wrote:

My Silicondust Device does not work well OTA. Sadly.

Used mine HDHomerun exclusively OTA.  Worked fine.  I did have a good size antenna and live within 30 miles of all the stations though.

That sucks!!!  I have a 4 tuner Ceton, but I still use 4 clearQAM tuners for the local channels.  Frankly, my Ceton is not all that reliable, as Time Warner still hasn't released the 1501 Tuning adapter firmware for my Cisco TA.  If I lose my clearQAM tuners I'll be ticked.

I filed my comments at http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/proceeding/view?z=xzflk&name=11-169 and would encourage others to do the same.  Especially, I would encourage others to echo my comments of prohibiting the MSOs from using any output protection on the basic channels.

Also, just to be clear, my comments are solely mine, and do not necessarily reflect my employer's views, for those of you who know who that is.

erkotz wrote:

I filed my comments at http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/proceeding/view?z=xzflk&name=11-169 and would encourage others to do the same.  Especially, I would encourage others to echo my comments of prohibiting the MSOs from using any output protection on the basic channels.

Also, just to be clear, my comments are solely mine, and do not necessarily reflect my employer's views, for those of you who know who that is.

+1

I'll be filing my comments later today

erkotz wrote:

I filed my comments at http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/proceeding/view?z=xzflk&name=11-169 and would encourage others to do the same.  Especially, I would encourage others to echo my comments of prohibiting the MSOs from using any output protection on the basic channels.

Also, just to be clear, my comments are solely mine, and do not necessarily reflect my employer's views, for those of you who know who that is.

Is there a +1 button somewhere on the FCC's site?

Is it clear that this applies to re-carried OTA transmissions?  Looking at the article linked it appears that only the basic cable channels will be affected.  If that's right TBH, I'm surprised that these are still unencrypted, I don't think that Comcast was providing them the last time I did a scan.

babgvant wrote:

Is it clear that this applies to re-carried OTA transmissions?  Looking at the article linked it appears that only the basic cable channels will be affected.  If that's right TBH, I'm surprised that these are still unencrypted, I don't think that Comcast was providing them the last time I did a scan.

I'm pretty sure Comcast filed for an exception to encrypt all the basics back in 2009 or such.   It's not clear what the state of the local broadcast channels will be after this.

babgvant wrote:

Is it clear that this applies to re-carried OTA transmissions?  Looking at the article linked it appears that only the basic cable channels will be affected.  If that's right TBH, I'm surprised that these are still unencrypted, I don't think that Comcast was providing them the last time I did a scan.

I currently get all of my local channels in HD via ClearQAM on Comcast. And I only subscribe to basic cable.  If they change this then I will  have no HD and will likely either dump cable all together or else go for a cablecard tuner (which I don't want to do at the moment...)

Lothar wrote:

I currently get all of my local channels in HD via ClearQAM on Comcast.  If they change this then I will  have no HD and will likely either dump cable all together or else go for a cablecard tuner (which I don't want to do at the moment...)

I'd be really surprised if they were allowed to encrypt OTA retransmissions.  There's no point in "protecting" that content.

babgvant wrote:

I'd be really surprised if they were allowed to encrypt OTA retransmissions.  There's no point in "protecting" that content.

I disagree.  OTA isn't as easy as ClearQAM for consumers so there is a cost value to migrate from ClearQAM to OTA so from a business perspective there is a point to "protecting" it.  i.e. When did you last purchase a HDTV that came with an OTA antenna?

mikinho wrote:

 

I disagree.  OTA isn't as easy as ClearQAM for consumers so there is a cost value to migrate from ClearQAM to OTA so from a business perspective there is a point to "protecting" it.  i.e. When did you last purchase a HDTV that came with an OTA antenna?

That's a different thing.  From the MSO's perspective limiting access to OTA retransmission has [limited] value (although if you have cable you probably have a STB), but I don't see the FCC agreeing to allow it.  That content is freely available to anyone with an antenna so from the FCC's perspective there isn't a point to allowing it.

I'm probably not the best test subject having never even hooked a coax cable up to any of my HDTVs, and I put an OTA antenna on my house Smile

babgvant wrote:

That's a different thing.  From the MSO's perspective limiting access to OTA retransmission has [limited] value (although if you have cable you probably have a STB), but I don't see the FCC agreeing to allow it.  That content is freely available to anyone with an antenna so from the FCC's perspective there isn't a point to allowing it.

I'm probably not the best test subject having never even hooked a coax cable up to any of my HDTVs, and I put an OTA antenna on my house Smile

The change is based on "allowing basic encryption would largely eliminate theft of service, promote innovation and investment, and reduce polution and fuel consumption by reducing truck rolls to activate or deactivate service."

If the OTA channels aren't encrypted it still doesn't stop theft of service.  It doesn't matter that it is available in other forms easily.

btw, I have a monster OTA Clearstream 4 antenna as well...I rarely use OTA but I still have it as a backup along

mikinho wrote:

The change is based on "allowing basic encryption would largely eliminate theft of service, promote innovation and investment, and reduce polution and fuel consumption by reducing truck rolls to activate or deactivate service."

If the OTA channels aren't encrypted it still doesn't stop theft of service.  It doesn't matter that it is available in other forms easily.

How is it "theft of service" to pull OTA channels off the cable line?  That content doesn't belong to them.

babgvant wrote:

How is it "theft of service" to pull OTA channels off the cable line?  That content doesn't belong to them.

The infrastructure does.  I see that no different than using a public domain image hosted on a different site on your own site.  The content itself is "free" but you are using someone else's bandwidth for your own benefit.

mikinho wrote:

 

The infrastructure does.  I see that no different than using a public domain image hosted on a different site on your own site.  The content itself is "free" but you are using someone else's bandwidth for your own benefit.

Http bandwidth is rivalrous, where QAM is non-rivalrous in consumption.  If they are pushing content into your house that cost is fixed whether you have a tuner hooked up or not.

babgvant wrote:

Http bandwidth is rivalrous, where QAM is non-rivalrous in consumption.  If they are pushing content into your house that cost is fixed whether you have a tuner hooked up or not.

That doesn't take into account other types of theft of service.  For instance, in many low income housing and neighborhoods I see coaxial lines running between various homes that are obviously not from a cable company.  I know more than a few people doing this in my own town home community.  If the OTA content isn't encrypted coming in then that type of theft will continue.

mikinho wrote:

 

That doesn't take into account other types of theft of service.  For instance, in many low income housing and neighborhoods I see coaxial lines running between various homes that are obviously not from a cable company.  I know more than a few people doing this in my own town home community.  If the OTA content isn't encrypted coming in then that type of theft will continue.

You think these folks are pulling wires to watch CBS?  They should be able to do that w/o the hassle.

TBC, I don't have a problem with the MSO encrypting cable channels.  They shouldn't be encrypting OTA retransmissions, although my issue with that is only conceptual probably because I've always thought of ClearQAM as found $.

babgvant wrote:

You think these folks are pulling wires to watch CBS?  They should be able to do that w/o the hassle.

I've been to some of the homes that do it and yes they only get the local ClearQAM channels.

I see no issue with them being encrypted coming in as long as they offered as Copy Freely streams which is what Eric Kotz recommended in his comments to the FCC as a mandate.

mikinho wrote:

 

I've been to some of the homes that do it and yes they only get the local ClearQAM channels.

In that case, 1) wow, talk about doing it wrong 2) I don't see how it's a theft of service; it's still non-rivalrous and the MSO didn't have to pay to pull the illicit cables.

babgvant wrote:

mikinho wrote:

 

I've been to some of the homes that do it and yes they only get the local ClearQAM channels.

In that case, 1) wow, talk about doing it wrong 2) I don't see how it's a theft of service; it's still non-rivalrous and the MSO didn't have to pay to pull the illicit cables.

There is still opportunity cost involved.  Realistically, how many of those homes do you think would subscribe to "something" vs  do without TV/use an antenna?  In fact, CableVision's comments indicated that one apartment building where they had encrypted basic had 20% of the (formally non-subscribing) residents sign up for service, so there is a very real opportunity cost here.  Several of the comments also talk about theft of service by customers that only subscribe to the Internet getting ClearQAM and using it for TV, too.

Just to be clear, this proposal is to scramble *EVERYTHING* on the cable TV wire - including OTA stuff.

Once again, I would encourage others to file their comments.  If MSO's get to encrypt with no restrictions on CCI, you have no one to blame but yourself when your OTA stations are marked Copy Once, if you didn't file comments. Feel free to lift ideas/thoughts/sentences from my comments, if you would like to use them in your own.

erkotz wrote:

 

There is still opportunity cost involved.  Realistically, how many of those homes do you think would subscribe to "something" vs  do without TV/use an antenna?  In fact, CableVision's comments indicated that one apartment building where they had encrypted basic had 20% of the (formally non-subscribing) residents sign up for service, so there is a very real opportunity cost here.

Sorry to nitpick, but this is not an opportunity cost.  As with most non-rivalrous "thefts" this is primarily a pricing inefficiency caused by monopolistic behaviors.  Interestingly the non-rivalrousness could be designed out of the system with a more intelligent implementation; which would have a side-effect of preventing this sort of "thievery".

erkotz wrote:

Several of the comments also talk about theft of service by customers that only subscribe to the Internet getting ClearQAM and using it for TV, too.

This is not a theft.  Labeling it in this way is obscene.

erkotz wrote:

Just to be clear, this proposal is to scramble *EVERYTHING* on the cable TV wire - including OTA stuff.

Once again, I would encourage others to file their comments.  If MSO's get to encrypt with no restrictions on CCI, you have no one to blame but yourself when your OTA stations are marked Copy Once, if you didn't file comments. Feel free to lift ideas/thoughts/sentences from my comments, if you would like to use them in your own.

FWIW, I found your comments to be quite eloquent and well argued; I agree completely with them.

babgvant wrote:

erkotz wrote:

Several of the comments also talk about theft of service by customers that only subscribe to the Internet getting ClearQAM and using it for TV, too.

This is not a theft.  Labeling it in this way is obscene.

It depends on the circumstance.  Again I know a lot of people who get ClearQAM through their Internet connection, I did that for many years.  I didn't read those specific comments so I don't know the context but there are a lot of people who remove the bandpass filter from their cable junction box to get ClearQAM.  That is theft.  If the technician doesn't install one...well I never read through the cable contract....so it may still be theft.  I don't know.  What I perceive as theft really doesn't matter to the legal definition.

babgvant wrote:

erkotz wrote:

Several of the comments also talk about theft of service by customers that only subscribe to the Internet getting ClearQAM and using it for TV, too.

This is not a theft.  Labeling it in this way is obscene.

Theft is the word used by the MSOs, not my word.  To be honest, I'm not certain what the legal definition would be - there's no doubt in my mind it would be theft if the MSO had put a trap on the line, which you removed, however it's a bit greyer if they didn't install a trap.  I can see arguments both way - and my gut says that in a court of law, the MSOs would manage to win.

babgvant wrote:

FWIW, I found your comments to be quite eloquent and well argued; I agree completely with them.

Thanks.  To be honest, some of the comments I put in there (prohibit autobinding, require DTAs to use CableCARDs,etc) have essentially no chance of happening, but my hope is if the FCC repeatedly sees things, maybe they will sink in in the future.

erkotz wrote:

 

Theft is the word used by the MSOs, not my word.  To be honest, I'm not certain what the legal definition would be - there's no doubt in my mind it would be theft if the MSO had put a trap on the line, which you removed, however it's a bit greyer if they didn't install a trap.  I can see arguments both way - and my gut says that in a court of law, the MSOs would manage to win.

 

I'm sure they would win, a great many things are nonsensically illegal :)  IMO the way we as a society have allowed content owners/providers to redefine our lexicon is obscene.  It isn't possible to steal something that isn't rivalrous.

I don't disagree that it's wrong to remove the trap, but since it is costless infraction the right way to resolve the underlying problem is by creating a reasonably priced product that offers that service. 

Lothar wrote:

babgvant wrote:

Is it clear that this applies to re-carried OTA transmissions?  Looking at the article linked it appears that only the basic cable channels will be affected.  If that's right TBH, I'm surprised that these are still unencrypted, I don't think that Comcast was providing them the last time I did a scan.

I currently get all of my local channels in HD via ClearQAM on Comcast. And I only subscribe to basic cable.  If they change this then I will  have no HD and will likely either dump cable all together or else go for a cablecard tuner (which I don't want to do at the moment...)

This was what I was doing up till last week, then they encrypted my locals which was all I ever received and i have to make the same decision.

I had lots of issues with TWC switching the clearQAM channel frequencies, so I went OTA, never looked back.

I talked to my lawyer friend and yes it is still considered theft--passive theft.  The gist of it is that if you are not subscribed and paying for a the service and are watching it then it is considered theft.

He also directed me to http://www.hcctelevision.com/Cable_Theft.html

mikinho wrote:

I talked to my lawyer friend and yes it is still considered theft--passive theft.  The gist of it is that if you are not subscribed and paying for a the service and are watching it then it is considered theft.

He also directed me to http://www.hcctelevision.com/Cable_Theft.html

Doesn't that definition strike you as a little obscene?

babgvant wrote:

Doesn't that definition strike you as a little obscene?

Absolutely, I think it is ridiculous since it holds consumers at fault for potential provider mistakes.   But how do you prevent it without doing some thing like encryption?

mikinho wrote:

 

Absolutely, I think it is ridiculous since it holds consumers at fault for potential provider mistakes.   But how do you prevent it without doing some thing like encryption?

I don't see why they need to prevent it.  The marginal cost of OTA retransmission approaches zero and unless there's an OTA-only package (which to be fair would have to be priced very aggressively) there's no lost revenue.

To me this seems like another permutation of the race-to-DRM digital (non-rivalrous in consumption) goods, as we've found with music the "theft problem" essentially disappears when appropriately priced alternatives are available I don't see how this is that different.

I don't think it holds consumers at fault for provider mistakes.  The consumer must take affirmative action to connect the cable line to the TV, execute a channel scan, turn on the TV day in and day out, and watch all that content, all the while failing to pay the cable company.  The cable company doesn't force the consumer to do any of those things.

And to me, it doesn't matter if we're talking about OTA channels or not.  Those channels may be free when the signal is in the air, but they aren't free when they are transmitted over the cable line.  Water in a lake or river is free....but that doesn't mean it's acceptable to steal a bottle of water from Walmart.  That's theft, no matter how you look at it.

richard1980 wrote:

I don't think it holds consumers at fault for provider mistakes.  The consumer must take affirmative action to connect the cable line to the TV, execute a channel scan, turn on the TV day in and day out, and watch all that content, all the while failing to pay the cable company.  The cable company doesn't force the consumer to do any of those things.

You are assuming a lot about the maliciousness and technical savvy of end users.

richard1980 wrote:
And to me, it doesn't matter if we're talking about OTA channels or not.  Those channels may be free when the signal is in the air, but they aren't free when they are transmitted over the cable line.  Water in a lake or river is free....but that doesn't mean it's acceptable to steal a bottle of water from Walmart.  That's theft, no matter how you look at it.

I love analogies that completely mangle the fundamentals to produce the wrong result.  First off there is an infinite difference b/w goods that are rivalrous and non-rivalrous in consumption, using a rivalrous good to facilitate understanding the consumption of non-rivalrous goods immediately invalidates the argument.  Second, even if we were to ignore that fallacy, the analogy isn't analogous; there are way too many touch points b/w the "free" river water and the bottle of water at Walmart for salvaging.  That said, and ignoring the whole rivalrous thing, this is akin to MSOs watering the lawn then charging everyone who walks by on the public sidewalk for getting wet.

babgvant wrote:

First off there is an infinite difference b/w goods that are rivalrous and non-rivalrous in consumption, using a rivalrous good to facilitate understanding the consumption of non-rivalrous goods immediately invalidates the argument.  

You are assuming a purely economic view and ignoring morality.  You may be correct that the economic definition of theft has been perverted but there is a general accepted moral code of what is good (or right) and bad (or wrong).  In almost all societies we teach our kids that taking from others is wrong.  This is no different, it doesn't matter if it is rivalrous or non-rivalrous, you are not paying for a service and using it illegally.

Rivalrous vs. Non-Rivalrous

mikinho wrote:

You are assuming a purely economic view and ignoring morality.  You may be correct that the economic definition of theft has been perverted but there is a general accepted moral code of what is good (or right) and bad (or wrong). 

This is a business problem though, confusing the issue with a relative standard is problematic; we should be using the right toolset to understand the root cause and potential solutions. 

mikinho wrote:
In almost all societies we teach our kids that taking from others is wrong.  This is no different, it doesn't matter if it is rivalrous or non-rivalrous, you are not paying for a service and using it illegally.

One of my favorite TV quotes of all time is from the Simpsons.

"Once the government legalizes something, it is no longer immoral"

It is different because of the why and how around concepts like morality as a social binder.  When a good is consumed in consumption there are valid reasons to promote the idea that "taking from others" is wrong, without it we don't have society.  When "taking" doesn't consume a good it is fallacious to apply the same principles however.  There is an inherent danger in applying a standard of morality to places where it simply doesn't apply; we are instinctively smarter than that.  When we input improper laws the output is always a society of scofflaws (as an aside, if you haven't seen Ken Burns "Prohibition" it provides an excellent historical reference on this point w/o the uncomfortableness of our current stance on digital content or drugs).

TBC, I'm not advocating consumption w/o compensation (which is a really bad long term strategy), just that we need to align prices and costs according to the fundamental principles that govern a good. 

babgvant wrote:

You are assuming a lot about the maliciousness and technical savvy of end users.

I'm assuming the exact steps one must take to steal cable TV service.  Someone without the technical knowledge of how to connect a cable line to their TV and scan for channels isn't going to be stealing cable in the first place.  There's no way anyone can convince me that anybody accidentally connected the TV to the cable line, accidentally scanned for channels, or accidentally forgot to give the cable company some money.

babgvant wrote:

I love analogies that completely mangle the fundamentals to produce the wrong result.  First off there is an infinite difference b/w goods that are rivalrous and non-rivalrous in consumption, using a rivalrous good to facilitate understanding the consumption of non-rivalrous goods immediately invalidates the argument.  Second, even if we were to ignore that fallacy, the analogy isn't analogous; there are way too many touch points b/w the "free" river water and the bottle of water at Walmart for salvaging.  That said, and ignoring the whole rivalrous thing, this is akin to MSOs watering the lawn then charging everyone who walks by on the public sidewalk for getting wet.

Whether a good is rivalrous or not is irrelevant because rivalry doesn't determine if it is ok to consume that good without paying for it.  Excludability does.  A good can be rivalrous or non-rivalrous, but if it is excludable, it is not ok to consume it without paying for it.  Water is non-excludable when it's in a river, so it's ok to consume it without paying for it.  OTA signals are non-excludable when they are in the air, so it's ok to consume them without paying for them.  If you put water in a bottle and give it a price, it immediately goes from being non-excludable to excludable, which means it is NOT ok to consume it without paying for it.  If you put OTA TV signals in a cable pipeline and give it a price, it immediately goes from being non-excludable to excludable, which means it is NOT ok to consume it without paying for it.  Rivalrous or not, excludability is what determines theft.

richard1980 wrote:

 

I'm assuming the exact steps one must take to steal cable TV service.  Someone without the technical knowledge of how to connect a cable line to their TV and scan for channels isn't going to be stealing cable in the first place.  There's no way anyone can convince me that anybody accidentally connected the TV to the cable line, accidentally scanned for channels, or accidentally forgot to give the cable company some money.

 

If I move into an apartment complex plug the coax into my TV and get local channels should I have to determine if 1) there isn't an antenna providing it 2) the complex isn't doing it another way 3) call the MSO? 

What about if I subscribe to cable internet and do the same thing?  Where does my responsibility end?  Should I have to verify that the MSO has rebroadcast rights for OTA, what about the other content on their networks?

richard1980 wrote:

Whether a good is rivalrous or not is irrelevant because rivalry doesn't determine if it is ok to consume that good without paying for it.  Excludability does.  A good can be rivalrous or non-rivalrous, but if it is excludable, it is not ok to consume it without paying for it.  Water is non-excludable when it's in a river, so it's ok to consume it without paying for it.  OTA signals are non-excludable when they are in the air, so it's ok to consume them without paying for them.  If you put water in a bottle and give it a price, it immediately goes from being non-excludable to excludable, which means it is NOT ok to consume it without paying for it.  If you put OTA TV signals in a cable pipeline and give it a price, it immediately goes from being non-excludable to excludable, which means it is NOT ok to consume it without paying for it.  Rivalrous or not, excludability is what determines theft.

This process is about creating an excludable good, ClearQAM it is not currently excludable (or it would be a lot harder to use it).  That said, you've put the cart before the horse, excludability is a property of a rivalrous good; w/o unnatural machinations non-rivalrous goods are generally non-excludable unless there is a rivalrous component (e.g. a plastic disc or bottle).

babgvant wrote:

If I move into an apartment complex plug the coax into my TV and get local channels should I have to determine if 1) there isn't an antenna providing it 2) the complex isn't doing it another way 3) call the MSO? 

Well common sense would tell you to ask somebody that works at the complex.  You shouldn't just assume that coax connector on the wall is hooked up to an OTA antenna or that the complex is providing free cable.  And calling the MSO is always a good idea if you truly want to do the right thing.

babgvant wrote:

What about if I subscribe to cable internet and do the same thing?  Where does my responsibility end?  Should I have to verify that the MSO has rebroadcast rights for OTA, what about the other content on their networks?

If you subscribe to cable internet and not cable TV, the cable line shouldn't be connected to your TV.  It should go into your cable modem only.  Connecting the line to the TV is only done for one reason...to get TV channels.  While I'm sure there is a very small percentage of people that may believe they have to have the line connected to the TV in order for their internet to work, that is not going to be a majority opinion.  In nearly all cases, this is done blatantly to avoid paying for the TV signal.

babgvant wrote:

This process is about creating an excludable good, ClearQAM it is not currently excludable (or it would be a lot harder to use it).  That said, you've put the cart before the horse, excludability is a property of a rivalrous good; w/o unnatural machinations non-rivalrous goods are generally non-excludable unless there is a rivalrous component (e.g. a plastic disc or bottle).

By the definition of excludable, both rivalrous and non-rivalrous goods can be excludable.  Rivalry only determines whether or not the consumption of the good by one consumer affect the ability of other consumers to consume that good.  Go back and look at that wikipedia article you linked and check out the chart at the bottom.  Specifically look at what category "satellite television" is in, and what category "free to air television" is in. 

And yes, ClearQAM is an excludable good since it is meant to be used only by paying customers.  The only way it wouldn't be excludable is if the cable company didn't put a price on the basic tier.  Every cable company I know of charges something for the basic tier. 

richard1980 wrote:

 

Well common sense would tell you to ask somebody that works at the complex.  You shouldn't just assume that coax connector on the wall is hooked up to an OTA antenna or that the complex is providing free cable.  And calling the MSO is always a good idea if you truly want to do the right thing.

Unreal.  We have very different views of what defines "common sense" and "right".

richard1980 wrote:

If you subscribe to cable internet and not cable TV, the cable line shouldn't be connected to your TV.  It should go into your cable modem only.  Connecting the line to the TV is only done for one reason...to get TV channels.  While I'm sure there is a very small percentage of people that may believe they have to have the line connected to the TV in order for their internet to work, that is not going to be a majority opinion.  In nearly all cases, this is done blatantly to avoid paying for the TV signal.

So it is your assertion that w/o a cable subscription I have no right to plug my TV into the coax in my home?

richard1980 wrote:

By the definition of excludable, both rivalrous and non-rivalrous goods can be excludable.  

True, which is why I said "in general".  The important point is that there is often a rivalrous component in a non-rivalrous good which attaches excludability.

richard1980 wrote:

Rivalry only determines whether or not the consumption of the good by one consumer affect the ability of other consumers to consume that good.  Go back and look at that wikipedia article you linked and check out the chart at the bottom.  Specifically look at what category "satellite television" is in, and what category "free to air television" is in.

Satellite television is encrypted, this is the attribute that makes it excludeable.  W/o DRM it wouldn't be.

richard1980 wrote:

And yes, ClearQAM is an excludable good since it is meant to be used only by paying customers.  The only way it wouldn't be excludable is if the cable company didn't put a price on the basic tier.  Every cable company I know of charges something for the basic tier. 

Intent isn't reality.  MSOs clearly intend to create an excludable good; the key part of the definition of excludability is "it is possible to prevent people who have not paid for it from having access to it" clearly it is not possible to prevent access or this process wouldn't be necessary. 

It has not been my experience with Comcast or Cox that ClearQAM provides anything but rebroadcast OTA stations; I am not aware of any OTA only package with either.

"babgvant" wrote:

So it is your assertion that w/o a cable subscription I have no right to plug my TV into the coax in my home?

You have no right to plug the TV into the coax line that connects to the cable company unless you are have received authorization from the cable company to do so.  That is specifically covered by federal law (see 18 U.S.C § 2511 and 47 U.S.C. § 605) (note the exception in 47 USC 605).

"babgvant" wrote:

True, which is why I said "in general".  The important point is that there is often a rivalrous component in a non-rivalrous good which attaches excludability.

Not in all cases.  Consider movie theaters.  The movie itself is non-rivalrous, but there is excludability because only people that pay to watch the movie can see it.

"babgvant" wrote:

Satellite television is encrypted, this is the attribute that makes it excludeable.  W/o DRM it wouldn't be.

If you want a different chart, see here.  While that wikipedia chart only said satellite TV, the meaning was very clear...TV content that you are supposed to pay for.

"babgvant" wrote:

Intent isn't reality.  MSOs clearly intend to create an excludable good; the key part of the definition of excludability is "it is possible to prevent people who have not paid for it from having access to it" clearly it is not possible to prevent access or this process wouldn't be necessary.

Semantics.  If you want to take that route, there is no such thing as an excludable good because everything in existence can be stolen, therefore it is not possible to prevent anyone from having access to anything they haven't paid for.

"babgvant" wrote:

It has not been my experience with Comcast or Cox that ClearQAM provides anything but rebroadcast OTA stations; I am not aware of any OTA only package with either.

I currently have Cox in Oklahoma City, and the basic tier is called Cox Starter, and costs $15.75 per month.  See http://ww2.cox.com/residential/oklahomacity/tv/pricing.cox for additional info. 

richard1980 wrote:

 

You have no right to plug the TV into the coax line that connects to the cable company unless you are have received authorization from the cable company to do so.  That is specifically covered by federal law (see 18 U.S.C § 2511 and 47 U.S.C. § 605) (note the exception in 47 USC 605).

 

I save that reading for later.  I would find it very bizarre that a cable subscription would be required to plug in a cable to the TV in my home that provides other legitimate uses (like CCTV in an apartment complex).

richard1980 wrote:

Not in all cases.  Consider movie theaters.  The movie itself is non-rivalrous, but there is excludability because only people that pay to watch the movie can see it.

Actually that's a great example of my point.  The movie theater is a building with limited seating space and therefore a rivalrous good.  Entrance the the theater is excludable (it has doors and walls) and what you're actually paying for.  Experience based goods (movies, sporting events, concerts, etc.) all work this way, the non-rivalrous good is an enticement to pay for the rivalrous thing. 

richard1980 wrote:

 

If you want a different chart, see here.  While that wikipedia chart only said satellite TV, the meaning was very clear...TV content that you are supposed to pay for.

Those goods in the excludeable section of the graph are only excludable because of a protection scheme (the unnatural machination referred to before).  Also, it should be noted that web content is rivalrous because pulling it uses bandwidth, too many users at one time = no site.  So the WSJ Online noted as non-rivalrous in the chart you linked is not correct, which puts the quality of the research and fundamental understanding of the goods represented on it in question.

richard1980 wrote:

Semantics.  If you want to take that route, there is no such thing as an excludable good because everything in existence can be stolen, therefore it is not possible to prevent anyone from having access to anything they haven't paid for.

 

Not semantics at all given the nature of the good and current implementation.  I think you missed the "possible", I don't see anything in there about "success" Smile

richard1980 wrote:

I currently have Cox in Oklahoma City, and the basic tier is called Cox Starter, and costs $15.75 per month.  See http://ww2.cox.com/residential/oklahomacity/tv/pricing.cox for additional info. 

OK COX

You mean this package which includes locals and quite a few others? 

babgvant wrote:

I would find it very bizarre that a cable subscription would be required to plug in a cable to the TV in my home that provides other legitimate uses (like CCTV in an apartment complex).

A subscription isn't required...only authorization.  However, you aren't likely to get authorization without a subscription.  And even with a subscription, authorization is not always granted...like in a scenario where the cable company has an additional outlet fees.  The normal subscription gives authorization to connect one TV, but you'd have to pay an additional outlet fee to connect a 2nd TV.  Connecting the 2nd TV without paying the additional outlet fee would be illegal because you don't have the authorization to have the 2nd TV connected.  It sucks, but the law is on the side of the cable companies on this one.

"babgvant" wrote:

Actually that's a great example of my point.  The movie theater is a building with limited seating space and therefore a rivalrous good.  Entrance the the theater is excludable (it has doors and walls) and what you're actually paying for.  Experience based goods (movies, sporting events, concerts, etc.) all work this way, the non-rivalrous good is an enticement to pay for the rivalrous thing. 

Also, it should be noted that web content is rivalrous because pulling it uses bandwidth, too many users at one time = no site.

And BTW, if 10 billion people try to view the WSJ website, the website doesn't disappear, nor does the data fail to flow.  It just flows at an extremely small pace per user.

You misunderstand what a rival good is.  To put it simply, rival goods can only be consumed/used by one person at a time.  Anything that can be used by more than one person at a time is considered non-rival, regardless of whether or not there is an upper limit to how many people can simultaneously use the good.  Movie theaters and websites are non-rival because multiple people can use them at the same time.  Just because there is a limit on how many people can simultaneously use the good does not change the fact that multiple people can use it simultaneously.

Additionally, a non-rival excludable good, such as a movie theater, is called a club good.

babgvant wrote:

Not semantics at all given the nature of the good and current implementation.  I think you missed the "possible", I don't see anything in there about "success" Smile

That's my point.  You are getting hung up on "possible".  From what I interpret, you are saying if anyone ever steals cable service, that means it's not possible to prevent unauthorized access, which is why we are in the current situation.  Well, I'm saying that it is impossible to completely prevent theft of a good, cable or otherwise.  Somebody can always steal everything, no matter what you do or how secure you make the good.  There's always a way around every security measure.  Therefore, according to your logic, there can be no such thing as an excludable good.

babgvant wrote:

You mean this package which includes locals and quite a few others? 

Yes, in response to your statement that the only ClearQAM channels with Cox (in your experience) were the local channels.  All of the digital channels in that package are ClearQAM.  There are 28 ClearQAM channels (of which 15 of them are OTA rebroadcasts) and 22 analog channels (of which 8 are OTA rebroadcasts).  The non-OTA channels are junk though.

richard1980 wrote:

 

A subscription isn't required...only authorization.  However, you aren't likely to get authorization without a subscription.  And even with a subscription, authorization is not always granted...like in a scenario where the cable company has an additional outlet fees.  The normal subscription gives authorization to connect one TV, but you'd have to pay an additional outlet fee to connect a 2nd TV.  Connecting the 2nd TV without paying the additional outlet fee would be illegal because you don't have the authorization to have the 2nd TV connected.  It sucks, but the law is on the side of the cable companies on this one.

If that is true, then it's another case of an obscene law that is not justifiable when examined.  My intent isn't so much to point out what is illegal as what should be illegal.  We have all sorts of crazy, non-economically sound laws; laws that aren't sane don't get followed.

richard1980 wrote:

 

And BTW, if 10 billion people try to view the WSJ website, the website doesn't disappear, nor does the data fail to flow.  It just flows at an extremely small pace per user.

That's not true.  It's quite possible to take a site offline with enough requests.  That's the point of a DOS attack.

richard1980 wrote:

You misunderstand what a rival good is.  To put it simply, rival goods can only be consumed/used by one person at a time.  Anything that can be used by more than one person at a time is considered non-rival, regardless of whether or not there is an upper limit to how many people can simultaneously use the good. 

Well if you want to get technical, rivalry is really a continuum and non-binary.  You don't get to fully non-rivalrous until marginal cost = 0 with the good unconsumed in consumption.  I think ClearQAM fits both tests.

Bandwidth is pretty close to a pure rivalrous good as is the CPU time, disk IO, etc.; so while it might be possible to oversimplify the WSJ page load to ignore this I think that is something that shouldn't be left out as it is a pretty critical part of making the good consumable.

richard1980 wrote:

Movie theaters and websites are non-rival because multiple people can use them at the same time.  Just because there is a limit on how many people can simultaneously use the good does not change the fact that multiple people can use it simultaneously.

Additionally, a non-rival excludable good, such as a movie theater, is called a club good.

Taking a deeper look at the e.g., the thing you're buying is a seat (or a place to stand in some cases), which can only comfortable be used by one person at a time; clearly pretty far to the left on our rivalous-to-non-rivalrous continuum. 

richard1980 wrote:

That's my point.  You are getting hung up on "possible".  From what I interpret, you are saying if anyone ever steals cable service, that means it's not possible to prevent unauthorized access, which is why we are in the current situation. 

Well my first point is that it's not possible to steal a non-rivalrous good; this concept doesn't apply to non-tangible goods that aren't consumed in consumption.  Secondly the cable companies cannot currently prevent unauthorized access to ClearQAM so it's not possible to prevent access, making them non-excludable.  Higher tiers, which are encrypted and require conditional access, are secured with it being quite possible to prevent access, making them excludable.  This process is intended to turn a non-excludable good into one that is excludeable; I'm not sure how this point is unclear.

Taking the DRM scheme used on DVD movies for e.g.: the fact that it exists (and ignoring the rivalrous nature of the plastic delivery mechanism) makes it excludable because it is possible to prevent unauthorized use.  This DRM scheme being ineffective doesn't change that, it just get circumvented because it's a joke.

Possible means that some effort has been made to limit access, the fence doesn't need to be high but it needs to be there; in this case there isn't one so it's not applicable.

richard1980 wrote:

Well, I'm saying that it is impossible to completely prevent theft of a good, cable or otherwise.  Somebody can always steal everything, no matter what you do or how secure you make the good.  There's always a way around every security measure.  Therefore, according to your logic, there can be no such thing as an excludable good.

 

See above.

richard1980 wrote:

Yes, in response to your statement that the only ClearQAM channels with Cox (in your experience) were the local channels.  All of the digital channels in that package are ClearQAM.  There are 28 ClearQAM channels (of which 15 of them are OTA rebroadcasts) and 22 analog channels (of which 8 are OTA rebroadcasts).  The non-OTA channels are junk though.

In my experience ClearQAM is limited to locals and the only package one can buy is local + other channels.  I have never seen a locals only package so its not possible to buy the thing that you're using.  This e.g. reinforces that point; thanks.

You and I have very different opinions of what is right and wrong.  I am not going to debate right and wrong with you, as there is no real point in it.  I am also not going to debate economic concepts that you obviously do not grasp or that you twist around to suit your own beliefs.  For example:

babgvant wrote:

Taking a deeper look at the e.g., the thing you're buying is a seat (or a place to stand in some cases), which can only comfortable be used by one person at a time; clearly pretty far to the left on our rivalous-to-non-rivalrous continuum.

As I previously stated, this is the exact definition of a club good, which is non-rivalrous and excludable.  I'll give you credit for being a software developer, but economics clearly is not your area of expertise.

babgvant wrote:

Secondly the cable companies cannot currently prevent unauthorized access to ClearQAM so it's not possible to prevent access making them non-excludable.

Taking the DRM scheme used on DVD movies for e.g.: the fact that it exists.....makes it excludable because it is possible to prevent unauthorized use.  This DRM scheme being ineffective doesn't change that.....

If I disconnect your cable line from the cable network, I've prevented your access to ClearQAM.  Additionally, if I place a bandbass filter in line between your TV and the cable headend, I've also prevented your access.  Neither method is effective, but they do prevent access until someone interferes.  By your own words, this makes ClearQAM an excludable good.

babgvant wrote:

Possible means that some effort has been made to limit access, the fence doesn't need to be high but it needs to be there; in this case there isn't one so it's not applicable.

I would certainly consider the practice of capping cable connectors and installing bandpass filters a "fence".  And no, it's not very high but it is there.  Encrypting the ClearQAM channels is akin to building a taller fence.

babgvant wrote:

In my experience ClearQAM is limited to locals and the only package one can buy is local + other channels.  I have never seen a locals only package so its not possible to buy the thing that you're using.  This e.g. reinforces that point; thanks.

Your experience is obviously very limited and you have not sought outside resources to confirm your hypothesis.  Perhaps you should gain more experience, or you should seek outside resources, like SiliconDust's channel database, which lists thousands of ClearQAM channels through various providers.  I can assure you, there are many people that have much more ClearQAM programming than you think.

Also, I'd just like to point out that in my experience, I have never seen you.  But just because I have never seen you, that doesn't mean I automatically assume that you don't exist.  And I certainly would not definitely say it's not possible for you to exist, nor would I call you a liar if you told me you do exist.  But then again, it's obvious that we think very differently.

richard1980 wrote:

You and I have very different opinions of what is right and wrong.  I am not going to debate right and wrong with you, as there is no real point in it.  I am also not going to debate economic concepts that you obviously do not grasp or that you twist around to suit your own beliefs.  For example:

 

Nothing like a like ad hominem in the morning. 

richard1980 wrote:

As I previously stated, this is the exact definition of a club good, which is non-rivalrous and excludable. 

Simplifying a concept for a textbook (or wikipedia entry) makes it easier to understand, but the truth is more complex.  Anyone who has sat in a movie theater knows that different seats have different value (somewhat determined by individual preference); there are good seats (middle back) and bad (anywhere in the first 3-4 rows); given this it should be obvious what kind of good this is.

richard1980 wrote:

I'll give you credit for being a software developer, but economics clearly is not your area of expertise.

Actually, I have a degree in Economics (and Political Science) from UIUC (a top 25 program) and I was a TA for two years in Intermediate Microeconomics (ECON300).  I only got into programing because it was the best job I could get when I graduated.

richard1980 wrote:

 

If I disconnect your cable line from the cable network, I've prevented your access to ClearQAM.  Additionally, if I place a bandbass filter in line between your TV and the cable headend, I've also prevented your access.  Neither method is effective, but they do prevent access until someone interferes.  By your own words, this makes ClearQAM an excludable good.

There are many ways to make a good excludable, and yes those are two; the real question is if the MSO does or can do those things.  ClearQAM can clearly be an excludable good, it just isn't right now because they don't generally do those things. 

richard1980 wrote:

Your experience is obviously very limited and you have not sought outside resources to confirm your hypothesis.  Perhaps you should gain more experience, or you should seek outside resources, like SiliconDust's channel database, which lists thousands of ClearQAM channels through various providers.  I can assure you, there are many people that have much more ClearQAM programming than you think.

I've used Comcast in several areas of Chicago (which for the unfamiliar is a more like using several different companies because of how they grew) and Cox in Florida.  I have never been able to pull more than OTA locals over ClearQAM. It appears that your own experience is quite similar with Cox in OK.

I don't dispute that it could work differently in other locales, and if it does then the fundamentals would be different depending on the facts.  Either way that doesn't impact the situation for you or I, so maybe we can just go with that.

babgvant wrote:

Nothing like a like ad hominem in the morning.

You left me no choice.  Your entire argument is biased and based on your own personal opinion of what is right and wrong.  You are twisting around very basic economic principles to make it appear as if you are right, when in fact you are wrong.

babgvant wrote:

Simplifying a concept for a textbook (or wikipedia entry) makes it easier to understand, but the truth is more complex.

So in other words, textbooks, wikipedia, and every website I could find about the subject, which all agree with me, are all wrong.  I'm sorry, but I'm calling BS on this.

babgvant wrote:

Anyone who has sat in a movie theater knows that different seats have different value (somewhat determined by individual preference); there are good seats (middle back) and bad (anywhere in the first 3-4 rows); given this it should be obvious what kind of good this is.

Yes, the seat itself is rivalrous.  But not the movie theater.  And to correct a statement you made earlier, when you buy a ticket, you aren't buying a seat.  First, you are renting the seat (I'm nitpicking, but there is a huge difference).  Second, the cost of the ticket covers much more than just seat rental.  Part of the money goes straight to the studio that made the movie, per the agreement the theater has with the studio.  Additionally, you are paying a piece of all the overhead costs associated with operating the theater...things like electricity, employee earnings/benefits, cleaning supplies, maintenance/repair, etc.  Those are all non-rivalrous goods.  Additionally, the cost incurred by the theater to run the theater when only one customer is present is virtually the exact same as when two customers are present, which means the marginal cost is $0.  Hence the reason the theater is classified as non-rivalrous.

babgvant wrote:

Actually, I have a degree in Economics

Anybody can get a degree.  That doesn't mean what you say is right, nor does it make you an expert on the subject.  And even experts can be wrong...even such experts as Stephen Hawking, who at least on one occasion admitted he was wrong, after years of defending his position.

babgvant wrote:

There are many ways to make a good excludable, and yes those are two; the real question is if the MSO does or can do those things.  ClearQAM can clearly be an excludable good, it just isn't right now because they don't generally do those things.

A good is excludable if it is possible (i.e., not impossible) to prevent non-paying people from consuming it.  You do not have to actually prevent non-paying people from consuming it; failing to prevent non-paying people from consuming it does not make the good non-excludable.  Case in point:  If you don't try to stop a shoplifter from stealing a shirt, it doesn't make the shirt non-excludable.  The shirt could only be non-excludable if it is impossible to prevent the thief from stealing it.  It is certainly not impossible to stop a thief from stealing the shirt.  Therefore, the shirt can not be non-excludable, which makes it excludable by default.  The same thing applies here.  It is not impossible to stop non-paying people from accessing cable TV, therefore, cable TV service (ClearQAM or otherwise) is excludable.

babgvant wrote:

It appears that your own experience is quite similar with Cox in OK.

Either way that doesn't impact the situation for you or I, so maybe we can just go with that.

It does impact the situation for me.  And no, my experience is not the same as yours.  As I previously stated, all of the digital channels (including the non-local channels) are ClearQAM in Cox' TV Starter package here in Oklahoma City.  In other words, ClearQAM is not limited to just local channels for me.

richard1980 wrote:

You left me no choice.  Your entire argument is biased and based on your own personal opinion of what is right and wrong.  You are twisting around very basic economic principles to make it appear as if you are right, when in fact you are wrong.

I believe our actions are always the product of a choice; there is no such thing as "no choice" in a situation. 

Given the moral posturing earlier, I enjoyed the irony of the path you chose.

richard1980 wrote:

So in other words, textbooks, wikipedia, and every website I could find about the subject, which all agree with me, are all wrong.  I'm sorry, but I'm calling BS on this.

We live in a complex world with complex goods.  I can only speculate to why these sources make the claims they do; my guess is that they simplified the concepts to make a point.  We are free to think for ourselves, run the numbers and draw conclusions.  One of my professors often joked that if you asked two economists the same question you'd get three different answers.

richard1980 wrote:

Yes, the seat itself is rivalrous.  But not the movie theater.  And to correct a statement you made earlier, when you buy a ticket, you aren't buying a seat.  First, you are renting the seat (I'm nitpicking, but there is a huge difference). 

Yes, I was flip in my word choice, but I suspect that there was little confusion about the underlying message.

richard1980 wrote:

Anybody can get a degree.  That doesn't mean what you say is right, nor does it make you an expert on the subject.  And even experts can be wrong...even such experts as Stephen Hawking, who at least on one occasion admitted he was wrong, after years of defending his position.

I think my classmates who flunked out would disagree with you on that.  You are free to disagree with my analysis, but the fact remains that I have some credentials (degree) and experience (as a TA one of my jobs was to explain concepts like this to other students) to back it.

richard1980 wrote:

It does impact the situation for me.  And no, my experience is not the same as yours.  As I previously stated, all of the digital channels (including the non-local channels) are ClearQAM in Cox' TV Starter package here in Oklahoma City.  In other words, ClearQAM is not limited to just local channels for me.

I must have misunderstood what you meant when you said "The non-OTA channels are junk though." previously.  My apologies.

babgvant wrote:

I believe our actions are always the product of a choice; there is no such thing as "no choice" in a situation.

True, but to quote you, "I suspect that there was little confusion about the underlying message."  It's futile to argue with someone's morals, so I chose to withdraw from that aspect of the conversation.

babgvant wrote:

I can only speculate to why these sources make the claims they do; my guess is that they simplified the concepts to make a point.

Simplification of a concept does not involve falsely stating the concept.  I could understand if one or two resources misstated the concept.  But every resource I could find said the exact same thing.  When all of this literature says the same thing, and it disagrees with your statement, it's time to think about where you went wrong, not argue with the literature or try to discredit it.

babgvant wrote:

I must have misunderstood what you meant when you said "The non-OTA channels are junk though." previously.

By "junk" I meant channels with junk on them...shopping channels, C-SPAN, I think there's even a channel in Spanish.  The package may as well be local channels only, because as far as I'm concerned, those are the only channels worth watching.

richard1980 wrote:

True, but to quote you, "I suspect that there was little confusion about the underlying message."  It's futile to argue with someone's morals, so I chose to withdraw from that aspect of the conversation.

This isn't a moral issue, I don't understand why anyone makes it. 

richard1980 wrote:

Simplification of a concept does not involve falsely stating the concept.  I could understand if one or two resources misstated the concept.  But every resource I could find said the exact same thing.  When all of this literature says the same thing, and it disagrees with your statement, it's time to think about where you went wrong, not argue with the literature or try to discredit it.

There are many ways to approach a question, and in this case when looking at the individual inputs that make up a complex good I do not believe that I am wrong (with either case).  IMO the purpose of school is to train you to look at the variables and draw appropriate conclusions.  I prefer to think for myself and in this case I have the tools and training to do it.  You won't find many answers to interesting questions in a text book, or on Wikipedia. 

richard1980 wrote:

By "junk" I meant channels with junk on them...shopping channels, C-SPAN, I think there's even a channel in Spanish.  The package may as well be local channels only, because as far as I'm concerned, those are the only channels worth watching.

There's something we can agree on.  I don't watch anything that's not HD, so even if I could get non-OTA on QAM (or used a ClearQAM tuner for that matter) I would feel the same Smile

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