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DTV Tech Notes

% Larry Bloomfield & Jim Mendrala

(541) 385-9115 or (805) 294-1049

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April 3, 1998


DTV Tech Note - 016


     Sharing experiences, knowledge or anything else relating to DTV, HDTV etc. with your fellow engineers:  That's what we are all about.  For a copy of our policies and who we will make this available to, please e-mail us. 

Welcome to all the new subscribers.  We now have over 150. We hope you will participate with question, answers and/or comments.  Good luck at NAB!

New things are in the works.


(Ed note:   The following two press releases were received and thought to be of significant value to our readers, we are passing them on as received.)

 April 2, 1998


ABC Television NETWORK



      Panasonic to Design, Build and Equip HDTV Facility


     New York, NY - ABC will adopt the 720 progressive, high definition, television format, it was announced today by ABC Television Network President Preston Padden. In addition, Mr. Padden announced, with Panasonic Broadcast & Television Systems Company (PBTSC) President Steve Bonia that the two companies have signed an agreement in principle to build ABC's HDN Release Center at its headquarters in New York City.  According to the agreement in principle, Panasonic will build and install the facility by September 1998, in time for ABC's DTV launch in November 1998.  

Mr. Padden said, "To make the best possible pictures, to be ready for 'second generation' progressive flat panel displays, and to be ready for the multimedia opportunities of the converged world of computing and television,

ABC has selected 720P as its HDTV format. We are grateful that Panasonic has elected to support all of the ATSC formats and has accelerated its 720P product line to fulfill our ambitious plans."

 Mr. Bonia said, "Panasonic is glad for the confidence ABC has shown in our understanding of HDTV technologies.  Panasonic is determined to provide customers with flexible and comprehensive choices in selecting their HDTV systems."

 ABC Broadcast Operations & Engineering President Preston Davis said,'720P makes great pictures and b the right solution for a converged future."

      ABC has also purchased a quantity of DVCPRO equipment for evaluation and possible inclusion in the network's long-term acquisition plans  

     Slated for operation in September 1998, ABC's HDTV Release Center will evolve around the AJ-HD2700 1080i/720p switchable D-5 HD recording systems provided by Panasonic broadcast & Digital Systems Company (PBDSC).

      Robert Mueller, president, PBDSC, said,'D-5 HD recording systems are the industry standard for high-quality HDTV recording and program distribution. The switchable AJ-HD2700 allows Panasonic to offer customers the choice to record and play back HD programming in either 1080i or 720p formats."

      "Panasonic is the only company offering broadcasters a complete choice of formats as they plan out their digital future," Mueller added.

      In addition to the AJ-HD2700s, ABC will also purchase a variety of HD and DTV 16:9 and 4:3 monitors from PBDSC as well as 720p studio cameras for use in future HD program origination by the network.


        CBS Announces HDTV Programming Plans


NEW YORK, April 2  -- Beginning in November 1998, the CBS Television Network will broadcast five hours of high definition (HDTV) primetime programming each week, it was announced by Michael H. Jordan, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, CBS Corporation.  The CBS HDTV programming will be broadcast in 1080i, the highest quality HDTV digital format.

 The 1080i format has more than five times the picture resolution of today's existing NTSC television services with a transmission rate that ensures smooth motion portrayal.  The choice of this particular format ensures that CBS HDTV programming is totally compatible with new HDTV television sets, while still allowing viewers to see programs in normal quality on regular television.

 Mr. Jordan said: "By providing the highest quality HDTV programming, we will gauge the reaction of consumers to HDTV and the response of television set manufacturers to the new technology."

 While demonstrating the full benefit of HDTV, the choice of 1080i format does not foreclose any future digital television options.  CBS will experiment with other features and revenue opportunities made possible by digital technology.  For example, the new technology will enable broadcasters  to deliver large quantities of program and non-program related data to television sets and computers simultaneously with the transmission of the digital TV and HDTV programs.  It is also possible to shift between HDTV and standard TV in different dayparts, and to deliver several  standard quality programs over a single digital channel to increase viewers' programming choices. 

 Concurrent with the introduction of HDTV programming in November 1998, CBS also intends to begin digital broadcasting at four CBS Owned television stations.  By November 1999, planned  additional digital upgrades at CBS Owned stations and Affiliates will enable the CBS Television Network to reach 42% of American households with digital television broadcasts.  

The CBS HDTV programming will be broadcast in a digital format that produces a wide screen, high definition picture of  cinema quality with Dolby digital sound.  The format employs 1080 scanning lines per frame with 1920 picture elements, or pixels, per line, which forms a picture of two million pixels per frame, transmitted at 60 pictures per second interlaced. 


(Ed Note: When these two press releases were received, we called NBC. We were told that they would make their announcement at 10 AM Monday, April  6th at NAB.  We have not spoken with FOX, UPN or WB, as yet.  --  stay tuned.  Jim and Larry will be there and will not be able to put out another DTV Tech Notes until we return and have digested the information we have experienced.)


The following was to go in the next Tech notes so here it is now. 

Subj:   Survival of the Fittest!

By:     Larry Bloomfield


        Most all America is covered by television signals, one way or another.  Until just a very few years ago, if you didn't live in an area covered directly by an UHF or VHF full power station, chances are you were able to see your favorite shows via translators or LPTV stations.  Even though sets manufactured today won't go there, there's still a translator operating in Eastern Oregon on Channel 72.  Some areas were and still are served via several translator hops.  The accessibility in the winter and the costs to maintaining these very low powered devices (typically 10 watts VHF and 100 watts UHF), often times, very isolated translators, has made them an albatross around the responsible parties necks.  

        Hard wire cable companies have been around for a long time and have helped to fill some of this uncovered area.  It isn't always economically feasible, though, to string a cable into some of the more remote areas though.  Then there were the wireless cable companies in the 2-3 GHz bands.

         The reason for this story here is that with the advent of Direct Broadcast Service (DBS), just a few years ago, the excellent picture quality can be attributed to the digital transmission.  Weather broadcasters or cablecasters know it or not, many viewers in these remote areas have switched over to one or more of the several services offered in this high-flying media without even a casual look back.  

        DTV channel assignments have cast a very definite cloud over the existence of some of these translators and LPTV stations putting the in jeopardy. Many will probably have to go bye-bye in favor of the new technology.  

        It would appear, however that all is not lost.  Local-to-local television via satellite is on the horizon.  If Capitol Broadcasting has its way, they will launch an $800 million satellite that would carry all television station in all markets.  There is much industry support of this concept.  Jim Babb, president of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) television board and vice president of Lin Television said:  "The Capitol proposal is an enlightened look at the situation. This should create an excellent opportunity for broadcasters."  NAB put it's full support to the concept in a vote taken during the board's winter (January '98) meeting in Laguna Niguel, California.  

        This is an interesting position because broadcasts have expressed concerned over EchoStar's plans to offer their "local-into-local" service. EchoStar's plans to retransmit the local signals of the Four Major network affiliates to unserved viewers in Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, Miami and Philadelphia for openers.  From what I have seen though, the Capitol approach seems to be much more aggressive as far as whom they plan to serve from the get-go the entire nation.   EchoStar maintains that they do not yet have the technical capacity to carry all stations into all markets to which they broadcast, but eventually plan to do so.  EchoStar's Chairman Charlie Ergen said, "As technology improves, EchoStar intends to invest in additional satellites to deliver local signals in more markets covering a greater number of channels in each market."  

        Roger LaMay, vice president and general manager of WTXF (TV) in Philadelphia has reservations: "We are not happy about it, because we have real concerns about EchoStar's ability to keep people from getting the signal when they shouldn't be."  On the other hand, Brian Jones the GM of CBS's affiliate KTVT (TV), in Dallas says:  "We are happy to provide our signal to anyone who wants to receive it as long as that does not infringe on any other CBS station's market."  

        If and when Capitol's proposal comes to fruition, it would be legal for satellite companies to retransmit local television signals into local markets. Stipulations similar to those exposed on cable companies now would have to be enforced, such as must-carry, retransmission consent, network non-duplication and the syndicated exclusivity rules.  

        Congress has expressed concern with rising cable rates and has encouraged competitive services like satellite broadcasting or DBS.  In light of this and with NAB's support, Capitol believes its legislation has a good chance of passing this year.  

        Dianne Smith, attorney for Capitol Broadcasting says "It will take 24 to 26 months to build a satellite from the minute we say go, and we will not say go until we get the legislation.  Until that time, Capitol Broadcasting is eating the start-up costs."  In the meantime, Capitol is seeking financing for this venture they calling "Local TV on Satellite."  

        A scenario similar to these proposals will certainly happen sooner or later. There is no question with this type of service available the need for translators will vanish.  My question is what impact will this have on the wire and wireless cable companies?


(Ed Note:  We received this and are passing it on at face value.  Put what ever level of credence to you feel appropriate.)


         Telephone Scam!


The following came to Barbra Wood at E.C.J Law Firm from "CPR"  

        I received a telephone call from an individual identifying himself as an AT&T Service Technician that was running a test on our telephone lines. He stated that to complete the test I should touch nine (9), zero (0), pound sign (#) and hang up. Luckily, I was suspicious and refused.  Upin contacting the telephone company we were informed that by pushing 90# you end up giving the individual that called you acess to your telephone line and allows them to place a long distance telephone call, with the charge appearing on your telephone bill. We were further informed that this scam has been originating from many of the local jails/prisons. Please "pass the word".  

George Fousek AT&T Global Account Director 4 Station Square Suite 400 Pittsburgh, PA 15219 412-642-7023 (voice) 412-642-7119 (fax)


Subj:  NAB

From:  Larry Bloomfield


Jim and I will be at NAB.  We will be staying at the Monte Carlo Hotel.  I'll be there representing both the DTV Tech Notes and Broadcast Engineering magazine.  Jim will also be representing the DTV Tech Notes and will be gathering information for a special project he is working on.  Feel free to contact either of us.  I'll have a Cell phone with me and you can reach me at (541) 410-1559 or you can leave a message at one of the Intertec booths.  I'll be glad to pass on message to Jim, if I see him.   Have a good convention.



The DTV Tech Notes are published for broadcast professionals who are interested in DTV, HDTV etc. by Larry Bloomfield and Jim Mendrala. We can be reached by either e-mail or land lines (541) 385-9115, (805) 294-1049 or fax at (805) 294-0705.  News items, comments, opinions etc. are always welcome from our readers; letters may be edited for brevity. >>>     ---------  <<<   DTV Tech Note articles may be reproduced in any form provided they are unaltered and credit is given to the DTV Tech Notes and the originating authors, when named.