I wrote last week about the irony of the broadcast industry and the FCC leadership’s seemingly singular focus on the quality of cable delivery related to the DTV Transition. They seem to think the only way the DTV Transition will be successful is if consumers actually get to see unimpeded, beautiful HD pictures. And the only way that will happen is if cable delivers those pictures! But wait, as I also noted, this isn’t the cable industry’s transition. This is the broadcast industry’s transition… and the consumer electronics industry’s as well. So why aren’t the new HD television sets required to be properly tuned before sale? Why are we now told we have to buy yet another service from the person who sold us the set to get the set to work right? Why are the new wires that connect to the TV so sensitive that a “good” set of wires costs more than a month’s worth of cable service? Why isn’t the FCC looking at all those issues as part of the transition too? And while we’re at it, why should anyone care about all this focus on beautiful pictures? The clearest benefit of HD (other than the great nature pictures now available on Discovery HD, National Geographic HD and some PBS programs) is watching sports. But the football season has now started, and it’s painfully clear that the broadcasters don’t care about showing you all those beautiful pictures so you can actually watch the game in HD. No, all you have to do is watch a Fox broadcast, and you will see that the entire top part of the beautiful picture is blocked off with graphics that snap, crackle and pop… move, flash, do everything they can to divert your attention from the picture. In other words they degrade the picture! Did the runner’s foot go out of bounds? Can’t tell. The sideline is obscured by the stupid graphics! Some of the other networks do a little better. Instead of blocking the whole top of the picture, they just have a “bubble” of information floating up there, or, better yet, down at the bottom, and the producers actually frame the picture so you can see all the action without it being blocked by the ads, promotions, statistics, and all the other stuff, including just extra graphic lines and gimmicks that someone thought were cute. And while I am on this particular rant, which I seem to do once a year about this time, almost the ENTIRE third quarter of the Monday Night Football game was taken up with discussions by the announcing crew with a basketball player in the broadcast booth… with the camera a good part of the time trained on them, not on the game! Hey… we want to watch the game, not Tony Kornheiser and friends! At one point the play-by -play announcer threw in a comment saying “oh, by the way, the Redskins just called a time out.” Why? What was going on? What was happening on the field? Nevermind. Apparently the decision has been made that folks don’t really want to watch the football game; they want to watch commercials, graphics and talking heads who are mostly talking about something other than the game being played! Well, you don’t need HD for that. Indeed, it’s questionable if you even need television. Why is the FCC obsessing about cable delivery? The picture is not only being degraded already. It’s irrelevant! There. At least now I feel a little better.