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Old 11-19-2012, 01:30 AM
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Satellite feeds


I live on the east coast and am watching the west feed of Toon Network on Dish Network. It is, of course, showing what was on the East feed 3 hours ago. My question is, why don't the nets just have one feed and let the affiliates in later time zones just record them for later playback?
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Old 11-19-2012, 02:04 AM
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Back in the golden age of television they did just that. Because back then every show was done live (except the broadcasting of theatrical films, which was rare in the early days of TV, film studios wanted nothing to do with television) they transmitted the video via at&t long lines to the west coast affiliates and, before videotape, they used a kinescope to record it (i.e. a 35mm film camera pointed at a TV monitor). They then had to process & develop the film, edit it, and then do the reverse (play it on a telecine, a video camera pointed at a movie projection screen). They had to do all this in under three hours (sometimes the freshly developed films were still warm from the film developer air dryer). The advent of videotape machines significantly reduced the complexity in that now they just recorded the live feed directly onto tape and broadcast it later (the Networks' need to do this was the primary driving force for the creation of videotape recording technology). Once video recording was cheap & reliable TV shows stopped being broadcast live entirely (even on the east coast).

Once satellite transmission became reliable and, more importantly, as cheap or cheaper than landline transmission they switched to that. Sometimes smaller affiliates still do just what you say, they just record the east coast satellite feed for delayed showing three hours later on the west coast. But believe it or not TV is such a massive & mature industry it's more efficient, cheaper, and more reliable to just have two separate satellite feeds. Saves all the affiliates the expense of having to maintain & run duplication systems at all their locations (all they need instead is a satellite dish receiver).
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Old 11-19-2012, 03:42 AM
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What "affiliate" would be doing this for a cable channel?
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Old 11-19-2012, 02:52 PM
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Well, instead of 'network affiliates' cable channels like HBO, USA, Comedy Central etc. distribute their signal to regional cable companies (Time Warner, Optimum, Comcast etc.) and since they've only existed in the last few decades they've always been via satellite. The growth & profitability of cable networks was a big factor in the growth of satellite distribution as well.
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Old 11-19-2012, 03:05 PM
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I loved having an early satellite dish (8 footer) and watching the raw news feeds and the east coast shows three hours ahead of time.

One of the things I learned was that watching Johnny and Dave at 8:00 pm rendered them utterly un-funny. I could only surmise that east coasters waiting until 2:00 am found them side-splittingly hilarious.
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Old 11-19-2012, 03:21 PM
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I loved having an early satellite dish (8 footer) and watching the raw news feeds and the east coast shows three hours ahead of time.
I watched a girl's volleyball game feed once on C Band.
The cameraman was focused in on a light view of sandy buttocks, and suddenly pulled away, probably when chastised by a director.
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Old 11-19-2012, 03:35 PM
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I loved having an early satellite dish (8 footer) and watching the raw news feeds and the east coast shows three hours ahead of time.
Yeah, my brother had a hacked big dish that got everything (for a few years anyway). Something that was really cool was on live shows like network morning shows, Larry King etc. the satellite feed stays on during the commercials! The affiliates would cut away to their local commercials but since the big dishes were receiving the exact same signal that they were getting you could watch the hosts & guests saying things 'off the record', swearing, having their hair & make-up touched up etc.! As big dishes became more popular the hosts started complaining that it was like having people read their mail!

DirecTV eventually made the big dishes obsolete.
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Old 11-19-2012, 03:41 PM
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DirecTV eventually made the big dishes obsolete.
Digital feeds which use less bandwidth and cost much less played a part.
I had problems with rain fade with DishNetwork and Direct TV that didn't occur on CBand.
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Old 11-19-2012, 03:43 PM
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I actually got into it (building my own receivers, text decoders, etc.) before the VideoCipher box came along, so it was all open and free. Watched both feeds of HBO. Gawdelpme, may I never sit through Stripes or Protocol again in my life. But the time-shifted stuff, and the long, long rolls of raw news feed during disasters, were great. It was a little scary sometimes to watch 2 hours of raw feed, form a pretty good idea of what had happened and why, and then watch as the successive cuts went back and forth until the 2:30 final cut told a completely different tale...
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Old 11-19-2012, 04:26 PM
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EDIT: Nevermind, I just realized how dumb my post was

Last edited by Blakeyrat; 11-19-2012 at 04:27 PM.
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Old 11-19-2012, 05:00 PM
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Well Mountain Zone affiliates of ABC and CBS still have to tape delay the East Coast feed, since those networks don't have Mountain Zone feeds. It's a real nuisance for them, and was way worse when most stations had a couple of tape machines. Schedules in the past were hodgepodges of live East Coast feeds, tape delayed shows, and filmed shows from the previous week. Now imagine every podunk cable system west of the Mississippi having to do that for the hundreds of channels available now.
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Old 11-19-2012, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Pitter Patter View Post
I live on the east coast and am watching the west feed of Toon Network on Dish Network. It is, of course, showing what was on the East feed 3 hours ago. My question is, why don't the nets just have one feed and let the affiliates in later time zones just record them for later playback?

It's more cost-effective to record the east coast feed live for retransmission three hours later for the west coast than it is to require every west coast local affiliate to record the the live east coast feed for later playback locally. Do you really think affiliates each have the cash to invest in local recording facilities when a retransmission of one recording is substantially cheaper for everyone?
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Old 11-19-2012, 05:35 PM
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It's more cost-effective to record the east coast feed live for retransmission three hours later for the west coast than it is to require every west coast local affiliate to record the the live east coast feed for later playback locally. Do you really think affiliates each have the cash to invest in local recording facilities when a retransmission of one recording is substantially cheaper for everyone?
Dad worked at the local NBC affiliate. They sent him to color video tape school in the late 60's. They station had two VTRs the size of Volkswagens. NBC mailed them tapes of Bonanza.
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Old 11-19-2012, 06:52 PM
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If you're talking about Dish Network (or DirecTv) as in the OP, there are no "affiliates" involved. You, as a subscriber, are getting the feed directly from the satellite. If you want to record it and play it back 3 hours later, that's up to you.

Last edited by FatBaldGuy; 11-19-2012 at 06:53 PM.
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Old 11-19-2012, 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by FatBaldGuy View Post
If you're talking about Dish Network (or DirecTv) as in the OP, there are no "affiliates" involved. You, as a subscriber, are getting the feed directly from the satellite. If you want to record it and play it back 3 hours later, that's up to you.
You're getting the feed directly from the DirecTV or Dish Network satellites, not the raw feeds from the network or cable channel's broadcast satellites. In other words NOT the same satellites that the big C and Ku band dishes use. Direct broadcast satellite systems or DBS (DirecTV, Dish etc.) have huge infrastructures whereby they receive the raw feeds from the (now mostly encrypted) network & cable big dish satellites (with names like Galaxy & Telstar), then they re-encrypt and retransmit them up to their own DBS satellites which are much more powerful and can be received by the smaller dishes. If you have a house that happens to have both DBS and cable (or over the air rabbit ears) you'll notice that the DBS channels always have an extra delay (often of several seconds) due to the signals having to travel an extra 44,000 miles and go thru extra encryption/decryption processes.

So no, DBS doesn't use affiliates, they work the same way the big cable companies due, just with the added step of the final transmitting to the individual homes being via their wired networks.

Last edited by Hail Ants; 11-19-2012 at 07:47 PM.
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Old 11-20-2012, 01:41 AM
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I realized after I posted this that dish or direct do not have afilliates. That said, as cheap as hard drives and servers are, looks to me like netork affiliates in the west could download the east feed and be done. Lots less satellite time involved.
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Old 11-20-2012, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Pitter Patter View Post
I realized after I posted this that dish or direct do not have afilliates. That said, as cheap as hard drives and servers are, looks to me like netork affiliates in the west could download the east feed and be done. Lots less satellite time involved.
The networks make their money by providing unified, national distribution of commercials. Therefore, it's in the network's best interest to make that distribution system as reliable as possible.

Here's more explanation than you ever thought possible on the pro's and con's of stations delaying network feeds vs. the network sending out multiple feeds.

While a lot of it is strictly insider talk, one important point is that when a network breaks into programming for a live report, it has to somehow "cover" the interruption for stations in western time zones that run the program hours later.

Another problem is technical failures. The networks have multiple redundancies if the normal satellite feed is disrupted. Compare that to the 3-4 dozen stations each network has in the Mountain, Pacific, Alaska and Hawaiian time zones each needing their own systems.
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Old 11-20-2012, 11:08 AM
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Here's more explanation than you ever thought possible on the pro's and con's of stations delaying network feeds vs. the network sending out multiple feeds.
This is a great link. Thanks for sharing it.
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