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Two months ago, Flo announced that it would stop selling Flo TV and that service to current subscribers would end in March 2011.

David Tanny, who publishes sandiegoradionews.com, assessed the problem. “Customers just didn’t see [Flo’s] small lineup…worth paying for,” he wrote in an email. “With some 1000 channels on broadband cable and satellite, smart phones, internet TV, streaming TV websites, and other ways to get cable TV shows into a screen, Flo TV was left without a use for its customers.”

What might Qualcomm have done differently? 

Flo TV, which has a trustworthy array of transmitters, Tanny wrote, “could offer free relaying of the local TV channels (TV stations would help to pay for this) to help fill in numerous signal gaps their digital TV stations may not reach. Back before the conversion from analog to digital terrestrial TV, people in outlying areas could get a usable TV signal, though it [might] be snowy or scratchy.”

When the transition to digital took place, says Tanny, who lives in the backcountry, ten miles east of Mount Miguel, he lost home reception of two channels and still can’t get Channel 8. The digital TV signal “has a cliff effect: you either get a perfect picture or nothing. No in-between reception.”

When driving around, “it’s impossible,” Tanny continued, to receive “a digital TV signal, which freezes every few seconds, and sometimes goes in and out.”

So Flo TV might be more attractive if the local channels were given the use of its channel space. “If Qualcomm can’t do it,” wrote Tanny, “someone else (like AT&T, Google, even Clear Channel) might give it a shot.”

— Joe Deegan

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