Saturday, April 21, 2007
The fact that all of these upgrades involve additional costs has led to a reluctance of TV producers to produce their programs in the High Def format and bickering about who exactly should pay for it. One example can be seen in the recent arguments between TV stations and local cable TV providers. Traditionally, cable TV providers (and satellite TV providers too, for that matter) have always traded advertising or paid small fees to local TV stations in exchange for the privilege of being allowed to include those stations in their line up of channels. Now though, the same TV stations want disproportionately more money in exchange for letting the same providers use the HDTV versions of their channels, and some TV stations have even gone so far as to withhold both their HDTV and their standard definition television feeds from the TV service providers.
The argument of the TV stations is that it costs substantially more to provide programming in HDTV and they want to be compensated for that extra cost. The cable TV operators contend that the HDTV feeds shouldn't be that much different from the standard def feeds, and since both are available to viewers over the air anyway, there shouldn't be that much of a difference between the cost of the two.
This dispute has gone even farther in Canada where, while there is interest in HDTV, there aren't that many TV viewers to provide HDTV to. Fewer viewers means less money in terms of advertising revenues and subscription revenues to TV services. Less money leads to less incentive to develop a new technology. One thing that's interesting about the Canadian situation is that finding the money to create HDTV programming is more of a hang up than installing the transmission equipment to deliver it. There's a concern that if Canadian TV producers don't create their own content in HDTV, American HDTV programming will be imported, and that will water down Canadian culture.
Regardless of how any of this turns out, it's pretty obvious that HDTV is making a big impact on society beyond just big screen TV's.