Published by: Larry Bloomfield & Jim Mendrala
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Larry Bloomfield & Jim Mendrala
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December 1998 (Before the holidays)
Tech Note – 024
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It wasn’t too long ago that, as Chief
Engineer at a station in the Pacific Northwest, I had to get replacement
parts for a piece of equipment supported only from a European country.
That, in itself, wasn't a problem, but the foreign currency exchange
rates drove us nearly nuts trying to figure out what the thing was
going to cost us and how we'd go about paying for it.
By the same token (no pun intended) anyone
who has or does travel, for what ever reason, will probably identify
with my dismay when loosing a percentage of my funds at the moneychangers
in the various ports of entry. It's almost impossible to plan,
so you never know from one day to the next what the exchange rate
is going to be and how much they'll gouge you for; you just
know that you're going to loose money. Wouldn't it be nice
if the world's governments, and their respective financial institutions,
standardized in much the same way as science has and is standardizing
in the area of weights and measures?
Well hold on to your hats, the quest
for common sense isn't just a dream, it's "a happening!"
Over the next four years, most of Europe's historic national currencies
will disappear in a sort of voluntary "euthanasia" to
be replaced by a new single currency known as the Euro. To
be more accurate - as fractions or multiples of the Euro, depending
on what ever their precise value was as of the end of this past
The good news is that there will be no more need
to convert from one currency to another when traveling or trading
between the eleven European countries that subscribe to the new
European Monitory Union (EMU).
As of the first of this year (1999), the exchange
rates of the national currencies were irrevocably fixed to each
other and to the Euro. The various government debt issues
have now been denominated in Eeuros and trade between the participating
countries, or states as they are now called, will take place in
Eeuros. The year 2002 marks the culmination of the process, when
national notes and coins are all phased out over a six-month period
and replaced by newly printed and minted Euro notes and coins.
Since people, countries and governments tend to be like inductors
(they resist any change in current flow), I find this absolutely
amazing and tends to rebuild my faith in humankind.
A common short-term interest rate was set by
the new European Central Bank for all countries in the "Euro
zone." In return for surrendering the freedom of being
able to manipulate their individual economies by juggling short-term
interest rates, the participating European states hope for low inflation,
greater protection from currency storms, an expanded and more efficient
market for their goods and services and closer political integration.
Careful now, a united states is a radically new idea that's only
a little over 200 years old. Doesn't it bring to mind 13 colonies
that have grown into 50 states? Common sense in the financial
world: now there's a real milestone in mankind's evolution!
Not all European countries have jumped on the
Euro bandwagon; Britain, Denmark and Sweden have adopted a "wait
and see" policy, but they have wisely chosen to retain their
right to adopt the Euro at a later date. Some countries have
not measured up or qualified for membership. Greece, for example,
has been ruled out from joining the EMU at this point, since it
does not meet the economic conditions for membership. The irony
in this is that the term "euthanasia"
I used to describe what is happening to the old currency comes from
the Greek: it means a good death.
it's goodbye to the Guilder and farewell to the French Franc. The great Deutsche Mark has departed and
there's no more percentage in Pesetas. With the Markka also being
finished, so am I with this story.
With all the press, tons of money, studies and
publicity about the Y2K issues, it is hard not to pass this story
on that was heard recently on National Public Radio. Looking
to the future, it is easy to forget that it could work in the other
direction too. Case in point. The Swiss government sent
out a notification to all five-year-old children that they had to
report to their local school to begin their education. The
only problem is that a gentleman 105 years of age got one of the
notices. Go figure.
ought to be a law!
Divinely inspired laws, like the Ten Commandments,
shouldn't be a problem for anyone to accept. If nothing else,
they're a good set of guidelines to live by, but when ordinary men
begin to make laws, watch out. You get things like it's against
the law to whistle in a barbershop, you can't have a hippopotamus
in your hotel room or you can't even sleep on park benches.
Who makes these laws? Lawyers, of course! When you get
so bound up in legal mumbo-jumbo where you can't do your job, one
relishes those refreshing thoughts, when they come to mind, like
what Shakespeare said: "The first thing we must do is
start off by killing all the lawyers."
Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating
killing anyone. I'd just like to see a law prohibiting lawyers
from ever holding any kind of public office. Now there's a
refreshing and novel thought! What brought all this on?
It's the new copyright law our beloved elected representatives blessed
us with and guess what, most of them are lawyers.
If you'd care to try to unravel the ramblings
of this new edict, you can check it out on the web at ftp://ftp.loc.gov/pub/thomas/c105/h2281.ih.txt.
What makes it bad is not only can you get busted for copyright infringements
but you can also get into deep trouble if you come up with the equipment
or technology to circumvent copyrights. How about fines of
"not less than $200 or more than $2,500 per act of circumvention,
device, product, component, offer, or performance of service, as
the court considers just." People who do
this for commercial gain face fines of up to $1 million and up to
10 years in prison. Remember that judge is a lawyer too.
On the surface this might seem good, but if
we only apply this new bit of legislation to the readers of Broadcast
Engineering, the courts will be filled until the next millenium.
Most of our readers deal with copyright material everyday.
If the courts understand this new law, as several of us who have
read and discussed it do, you can't even lift a clip out of a show
for a promo at your local station if the material is copyrighted.
What makes it even worse, the equipment you need to lift the clip
for that promo or whatever, is now illegal too.
You've heard the expression: "Guns
don't kill people. People kill people." Well the
same thing is true of the equipment we use on a day-to-day basis
to do our jobs, but congress has now made it illegal to use that
equipment in any situation that involves copyright material.
The pirates who are making illegal copies are the crooks who commit
the crimes. Electronics equipment doesn't make illegal copies:
people make illegal copies. Apparently the television industry
needs representation that thinks like the National Rifle Association
(NRA). Go after the crooks, but leave the equipment alone.
When guys like Fritz Attaway, general counsel
for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), was pushing
for this law I'd be willing to bet that he didn't consider the tools
the electronic artist need and use in their trade, from video tape
machines, DVD to computers will be band. You are invited to
show me, or anyone else for that matter, a piece of equipment that
knows if it is being used illegally or not. God help the person
who tries to take anyone of my several VCRs away from me.
You can quote me on that and it's not a copyright violation!
is the ignorant thoughtless attorneys who continuously put us into
situations where one can only wonder if it weren't easier to dump
all laws (except the Ten Commandments) and start all over again.
information on this subject can been seen at this web site:
By Larry Bloomfield
a story that first appeared on the TIG – Telecine Interactive Group’s
Coma Prima - For the first time. During
the past several months there have been so many "Firsts"
in DTV that it's kind of hard to take a few steps without tripping
over another one or two more. Probably the biggest though,
in any market, is the first broadcast ever in DTV, especially if
it is in High Definition.
Mention the name of Bill Hogan to most anyone
who is active in any of the various professional broadcast organizations
in Southern California and you'll get: "Yea, I know him!"
If there were an award for endless energy in promoting the highest
of professional skills, attending the most meeting and working behind
the scenes to make things happen, despite ill health, Hogan would
be very much in line for it.
In this light, members of the Los Angeles section
of the Audio Engineering Society can thank Hogan for his efforts
in getting the first public demonstration of off the air multi-channel
sound during the first High Definition television transmission in
Los Angeles. It all took place at the LA AES section
meeting the last Wednesday of October. Appropriately
enough, the program was to be on the subject of Audio for DTV.
Hogan said: "About a week before the
meeting I thought it would be fun to see if could demonstrate 5.1
multi-channel sound off the air. With the beginning of broadcasting
and the deadline of Nov. 1 approaching there was an acute shortage
of receivers or set-top boxes. I called the Philips Consumer/Tri-media
Semiconductor Group and was able to arrange for them to send a unit
with engineering support."
Of the four stations in Los Angeles slatted to
go on the Air November 1st, KTLA-DT channel 31 was the
only one that could commit to support the demo. Hogan said:
"They were the first LA commercial station and they wanted
to be the first to transmit full HDTV. KNBC beat them with
a transmitter on the air but the signal was unconverted standard
def. and there was no audio."
At 2pm the afternoon of the AES program, KTLA-DT
was not on the air yet and "I found that they did not have
the necessary hardware to enable 5.1 channel audio... only 2 channel
stereo. So much for a full 5.1 channel demo," mused
As things began to look like the best lay plans
of mice and men had gone awry, KTLA-DT threw the switch (at 7:40
PM) and were on the air with up converted NTSC followed by the first
full true HDTV broadcast in Los Angeles when they played back some
of last year's (1998) Rose Parade.
Hogan reported that the display was a 3 CRT Barco
front screen projector. He said: "The picture was
judged by those present as being truly spectacular. The sound
was encoded Pro logic and was decoded to full surround for the presentation.
A few minutes after KTLA-DT begin broadcasting; KCBS-DT began transmission
on Channel 60 and ran the Panasonic Demo tape in HD. Looked
Hogan asked that we express his thanks and on
behalf of those in attendance, their thanks, "To Philips Tri-media
Group for their Equipment and Support. Also to KTLA for getting
on the Air just in time." Hogan concluded: "This
was just like doing a live TV remote. Get
your program here! (previously "Physician, heal thyself)"Bill
Hogan hangs his hat at Sprocket Digital in Burbank, CA and can be
reached by E-mail at email@example.com
The DTV Tech Notes are
published for broadcast professionals who are interested in DTV,
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--------- J_Mendrala@compuserve.com <<<
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