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Cord cutters should hope Vizio’s new smart TVs don't spark a trend

03-31-16

“Tuner-Free” means extra hardware and hassle for antenna users.
Jared Newman, PC World

Vizio is making some bold moves with its latest smart TVs, but the changes aren’t all great for cord cutters.

Replacing the traditional remote control with Google Cast and a dedicated Android tablet is a wonderful idea, but Vizio is also boasting that its SmartCast 4K TVs will be “Tuner-Free.” That means they won’t have ATSC tuners onboard and therefore won’t be able to receive over-the-air (OTA) digital broadcasts from major networks such as ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and PBS. If you want to access the free (well, ad-supported) content available from those sources, you’ll need to buy an outboard tuner—along with the antenna you’d need anyway—and connect the tuner to one of the TV’s HDMI inputs. The changes will apply to all of Vizio’s 4K Ultra HD TVs with SmartCast, including the new P-Series and upcoming E- and M-Series sets.

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FCC Updates CALM Act To Further Quiet Commercials

03-29-16

Says adoption of new standard will likely result in 'modest' decrease

John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable

The FCC has approved a technical change in the CALM Act that it says could further reduce the volume of TV commercials. It has given stakeholders a year to comply with the new standard, as the National Association of Broadcasters had requested.

The Act requires broadcasters and MVPDs to monitor and control the volume of commercials to make sure they are not louder than the surrounding programming.

In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released last November, the FCC under then-chairman Mignon Clyburn, proposed what it said was a minor rule change to the Act, an improved loudness measurement algorithm it said could lead to even quieter commercials by closing an electronic loophole of sorts. The Act anticipated and made mandatory any successor document so that the standard could keep pace with changing technology, "affording the commission no discretion," the FCC said.

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