HDTV.. the motion picture industry's answer to the threat of home video.
When video taping of movies off the television became legal, and funded by a hidden tax on the blank tapes, the industry went looking for a viable stopper. The agreed upon method was to foist digital TV standards onto the broadcasters and a DRM bit in the data stream.
The carrot was that higher quality video signals would mean happier viewers, ones more receptive to blindly watch the very high quality commercials and tolerate the 99% of programming material that was barely up to video tape quality.
The stick was that the USA broadcast rules mandated all stations must be digital-only by 2005. (This has since been pushed into the future and likely will be again.)
This was presented as a win-win for the advertisers, but the broadcasters soon found out what the real price tag was going to be. Nearly total equipment changeout, new sets, a loss of 10% in their transmitter coverage... and the public was not throwing out their perfectly good, long-lived analog sets and thronging to buy the new and much more expensive digital receivers.
Many smaller stations in low population density regions have decided to close their doors instead of going bankrupt meeting an imposed unwanted change, denying their viewers regional news and more importantly local business' commercials.
Slowly, more details about HDTV's actual impacts on the viewer's experience have been surfacing. One is that if the screen size and viewing distance is the same as with current analog sets, the viewers will not be able to see the improved quality.
Another is the cost of the receiver is more than double the cost of analog and won't be coming down fast. It's still a hobby-videophile market and likely will remain so, since the government mandated change-over is meeting stiff resistance from both the public and the broadcasters.
One more is the cost of delivery is higher. Cable distribution companies are trying to charge a premium for digital service and in affluent areas, they are having some success. But the much larger population of the less than affluent, whom the advertisers depend upon, isn't interested. Currently broadcasters are required to transmit both analog and digital signals. This has at least doubled their electrical power costs and hasn't added significantly more viewers, so advertising costs are rising.
Advertisers, at least the ones that pay more attention to their costs, are beginning to rethink the whole HDTV thing. Hedging their investment, the well funded ones are still requiring their video to be HDTV compliant, but those on a budget are satisfied with DVD quality.
In closing, I think what we are seeing is the effects of marketing weenies' penchant for the newest, best and most expensive budget inflating technology crashing into the conservative, pocket book concerned consumer's willingness to pay for it.
I have a friend who has a small business for local video production. He used to fear he wouldn't have customers if he didn't gear up for HDTV. He couldn't afford the new equipment costs so had to stay with 720x480. He lost some local accounts and had to tighten his belt. But lately, they're coming back.
Fav quote - "Experience is whatcha don't get 'till ya don't need it no more."
System - Athlon 1.4GHz, Win98, Hauppauge PVR250 receiver and compressor.
Software -Magix Movie Edit Pro 10, Nero 6 + NeroVision Express, Moho 4.61, PSP 8.1, Bryce, Quicktime 6.52 pro, Goldwave 5, DVD-Lab.
Cameras - Panasonic GS9, Canon ES8400V, Canon EOS D20 and Canon A70