Just came back from North Carolina for the holidays, and I see that I now have the CBSE feed in HD. Figures it's the one channel I really don't need in HD because my OTA pickes it up the best. Just curious, I know the CSR from D* told me it could take up to 45 days, but how long did it take for some of you to hear one way or another if any of the waivers were approved or not?
I have some experience on the Radio side of broadcasting, but the principles are the same as to why these requests are constantly denied. The obvious:
1. The local non O&O is likely to NEVER approve your request for solid business principles. Advertising revenue is directly tied to ratings and "subscriber bases", if you are not watching their channel, nielson or no nielson household, you cannot contribute to their bottom line. By approving the waiver, they are guaranteed $0 in additional revenue; by not approving it, there is a -chance- that they will increase their bottom line.
2. The local non O&O has a vested interest in seeing D* fail and making you switch back to cable. Cable is a captive audience, and with generally a more limited selection via cable v. dish, you are more apt to watch the local channels esp. in the non-prime-time hours where they drive most of their revenue. Keep in mind that much non-prime-time revenue $ come from "subscriber bases", and from other non-sampled means (such as advertisements that state something to the effect of "mention you saw this on Channel 26...".
3. The local non O&O would rather you watch their programming in SD than in HD. Again, counterintuitive at first, but without a nielson box, they cannot measure how many people are watching OTA for HD, and until D* and the cable boys get more locals in HD, the locals will actually do what they can to discourage HD viewing. To many (including myself), going to HD is like flying first class, once you have done it, you don't want to go back; the longer the local boys can keep you from having HD, the more of a stranglehold they will have on keeping you captive to their channel. People want the waivers to see network programming in HD; but I suspect the local non O&O are more interested in keeping you captive on their channel on the D* locals SD broadcast for similar reasons to 1&2 above.
OK, now for the not so obvious.
1. Administratively, approving one waiver would open a deluge of personal requests to the local station that they could not possibly handle. It is easier to summarily dismiss all requests than to run the risk of being overrun because one person got lucky or knew someone in the station who greased the wheels. My O&O stations (FOX and ABC) were automatically turned on for us; we never asked and only after finding out did we inquire regarding CBS/NBC (which were summarily dismissed).
2. If D* does the request for you, I'm sure they simply look up the information with the stations and tell you if it will be approved/denied. When I called the stations, they told me I had to do this in writing, when I did it in writing, I never heard back. Of course, I could have sent it registered; but that would only be throwing good money after bad!
3. Nobody (local non O&O, D*, etc.) wants to deal with the adminstrative burdens during this whitewater period knowing that the local HD will be on the bird by 2007.
What we can do.
1. Be patient until 2007 (which will likely stretch to 2009 or 2010 knowing previous track records)
2. Exercise your right to vote. If this is a big deal to you, notify your representative. I'm not a political activist or anything, but there has been strong grass roots legislation before that has corrected injustices.
3. Consider alternative means to getting this programming. Again, most of the reason is to get HD prime-time programming; alternative ways of getting this programming are now surfacing. Granted, it is pay for view, but if enough people receive delivery of programming in this fashion, it will send a signal to the networks that they can put more pressure on their local affiliates to tow the line. Although it costs you more in the short term to view it this way, the networks actually make far less money through this delivery than if you viewed as a nielson family, and would not want this to be the standard way of program delivery.
4. If you have partial HD feeds, patronize the shows and advertisers on the local version of those networks over the ones that you do not receive the HD feeds for. I have the NY ABC affiliate, but I tivo the local ABC Channel 13 news (I know this information is captured and communicated back), and I attempt to favor the advertisers that are on that network when I have a choice. Go one step further and notify the non O&O that you will not watch their newscasts and morning shows, and when answering telephone surveys, will state such. Get your friends to do the same. I'm not sure that the station managers will ultimately get the correlation, but in a lot of small markets, 50 or 100 letters stating this may get someone's attention.