In the middle of the night after my first day at the CES show floor this year, I woke up with a vision. If you put a cluster of attractive free-to-air channels together on one transponder, that would make a much more sustainable business plan than for any single channel. I was so inspired that I scribbled down some notes for some free channels ideas, and that’s the photo* to the right of this paragraph. But I didn’t mention it to anyone.
Anyway, the following week, a group called FreeDBS announced that they’re actually going to try to do just that. What a fun, almost spooky coincidence! Their web site lists a channel chart that looks a lot better than mine, although the lineup is certain to change by the time it launches. For now, it even includes The Golden Age of Movies, which is the new name for White Springs TV.
However it happens, this could be a nice boost to FTA receiver sales. In the first days of radio, some of the commercial stations were created and funded by the companies who made radio sets, because content is the key to sales. Here’s hoping that something good comes out of this.
Since we get to watch its formative stages, maybe this is the best time to make channel suggestions that aren’t on the FreeDBS list yet. The channel would have to own national rights to its content, eliminating most OTA TV stations.
Most of these suggestions involve channels that are already available in the clear on C-band:
- Classic Arts Showcase. CAS will give permission to almost anyone to rebroadcast its channel. I find it very relaxing. It’s also available on Dish Network to anyone with an active Dish receiver.
- America One. Years ago, a Netflix-wannabe called GameZnFlix had a great idea. It took a Ku-band slot on the international satellite at 97 W (then Intelsat Americas 5) and carried all of America One’s programming, but it used all the “local” ad slots for GnF ads. But after a month or two, GnF switched to its own mix of low-budget movies that it licensed inexpensively. I’d love to see the national A1 feed on Ku-band or maybe another similarly sponsored virtual station.
- AMG TV. This is another A1-type network, but without as much team sports. We had a nice preview of it when several former RTV stations switched to AMG in the months before they vanished from Galaxy 18.
- Blue Highways. It’s not on C-band, but it’s prominently featured on TVU. Music, country, and country music.
- The Liberty Channel. (on IP-based Sky Angel) Hear me out on this. This channel includes a surprising amount of college sports, more than BYU. It shows a secular movie every weekday afternoon. And it’s a good candidate to be able to contribute financial support to ensure the wider reach that a project like FreeDBS can provide. Sure we’ve already got a lot of religious channels on Ku-band, but this might be a good fit.
Now it’s your turn. If you know of a channel that would be a good fit on FreeDBS, add a comment here to tell us what and why. Maybe it’ll be on FTA some day.
(*BTW, the other note on that page was from the second day as I was watching a discussion with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. He said that the reason the V-chip in TV sets isn’t used by most consumers is that when something is required by the government, then there’s no reason for third-party sellers to promote that feature, so fewer people are inspired to use it. That’s a good argument in favor of choices rather than mandates.)