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Tech Note - 043
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Dianne Edwards - BARCO Communication Systems -- firstname.lastname@example.org
I come from the Newspaper
industry....UPI not being available amazed me since I remember pulling off
stories from AP and UPI years (obviously) years ago.....I hadn't heard this, so
thanks for the update....Wow, the news reporting business has really changed,
To Tech Notes:
I didn't get the Tech Note, only a
nearly empty text file (it contained "T", nothing else). Could you resend it to me please?
Also, I have been participating in
trying to help breath life into a web based HDTV Forum to exchange information
with those interested in the topic. It
is located at http://server2.ezboard.com:8080/bdigitaltelevisionhdtvforum.
Pay it a visit and give me any suggestions you might have.
Also, would you be willing to promote it in an upcoming Tech Notes?
Thanks, Lee A. Wood, Director of
Engineering -- KOIN-TV -- Portland, OR 97201
Note: If anyone else is
having problems, please advise.)
Second Wave of DTV stations coming on line, maybe.
only a few days remain for the 80 stations in the second wave to
be on the air by November 1st only a hand full will make
it, according to an FCC status report.
28 affiliates of the four major TV networks are requesting
extension in an effort to resolve their individual problems.
At least these stations had the insight to file for their
construction permits (CP), but most have asked for extensions until
May 1, 2000 to get things done and begin broadcasting in digital.
One factor is in the international arena.
A number of these stations need to coordinate their activities
with the Canadian and Mexican governments.
Again, according to the FCC, eleven of these second wave
stations are on the air with their digital broadcasts.
Reasons for the delays range everywhere from tower site problems,
equipment deliveries, to, in some case, petitions to change their
DTV channel allocation.
The markets No. 11 through No. 30 markets slated to come on line
are: Houston, Seattle-Tacoma, Cleveland, Minneapolis-St.
Paul, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Phoenix,
Denver, Pittsburgh, Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, St. Louis, Orlando-Daytona
Beach-Melbourne, Baltimore, Portland, Indianapolis, San Diego, Hartford-New
Haven, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham and Cincinnati. Digital TV stations are on the air in Houston, Cleveland, Miami,
Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Hartford, Charlotte and Cincinnati.
this is not where the biggest concern lays.
Here it is the last few days in October. There are a total of 1599 "full-power" television
stations serving these United States.
Broken down, that's 1229 commercial and 370 non-commercial
the affiliates of the four major networks in the top 30 markets
who should all be on by Nov. 1st or have extensions (total
of 120), that leaves 1109 full power stations that must have on
file by November 1st a construction permit.
With 23 of the 24 stations in the nation's top 10 markets
that volunteered to be on the air by last November, who are transmitting
digitally, that still leaves nearly a thousand who will have had
to file for their CPs by November 1st.
It should be noted that eight of the 40 stations in the 10
largest TV markets required to be on the air by May 1 have sought
extensions until 2000. According
to the latest info from the FCC only about half of the remaining
stations who need to do something in the way of filing for their
CB had done NOTHING!!!!!!
It’s no secret that the launch of DTV here in the US has been anything
but smooth, with nearly a fourth of all stations as signatures to
the Sinclair Broadcast Group’s petition to the FCC to reopen the
US terrestrial standard in hopes of changing or broadening the vestigial
sideband transmission spec or giving broadcasters options to use
other proven modulation techniques.
NxtWave and Motorola say they have the solution to the multipath
problems with their new chip sets, which address, they say, these
issues and will solve ghosting and other reception problems.
This has yet to be demonstrated.
It seems like the industry is fighting the move to digital, in a
number of instances, by either ignoring it or putting little or
no effort into it, while others are putting forth a Herculean effort.
Broadcasters are programming the “good stuff,” in most cases,
in time slots long after consumers can go to a TV store to see them.
Case in point is the Tonight Show and many of the primetime
fair on CBS and ABC. And
what’s with FOX? Good
morning FOX, are you folks taking part in any of this HDTV stuff?
I think there should also be a law that prohibits anyone
form running any one of those stupid two to three hour tape loop
of the same thing over and over.
If you wan to sell HDTV to the consumer, don’t ever let them
watch anything that’s been up converted.
That has got to be one of the greatest disservices we could
do to them. All these
things considered, it’s not hard to understand why set makers are
also complaining about a lack of digital broadcasts needed to spur
sales and lower receiver costs.
The Zenith 8VSB Modulator
Roy Trumbull – (ED Note:
Roy Trumbull is the Assistant Chief Engineer at KRON in San
Francisco and their transmitter supervisor)
The Zenith Modulator is being used
by those transmitter manufacturers who decided not to re-invent
the wheel by building their own. My understanding is that in future
years some of the companies will actually manufacturer the modulator
under license to Zenith.
The modulator is a rack-mounted
unit with horizontal plug in cards. It takes a SMPTE 310M input
and can use an external 10 mHz reference. The output is at 45 MHz
IF and typically goes to the transmitter manufacturer’s upconverter.
If a 10 MHz reference is used it must be supplied both to the Zenith
and the upconverter. The Zenith has an RS232 port.
The HP 89441 Vector Signal Analyzer
has a GPIB port that is connected to a GPIB card in the user’s computer.
The Zenith modulator’s RS232 port is connected to Com 1. Zenith
supplies a CDROM disk that contains a program to use for generating
The program typically should be
used with a sample from the output of the mask filter. The program
has three user functions. One configures the HP VSA to act as either
an 8VSB monitor or a spectrum analyzer. The 8VSB monitor can be
activated with a variety of equalizer taps to simulate how a receiver
will respond to the signal.
The linear correction program calibrates
the HP VSA and uses signal error data to generate a graph and a
numeric indication of EVM (error vector magnitude) or S/N. It then
iterates correction values giving you better and better numbers.
When the values get to the point where they are simply varying within
a small range, you click on the converge button and the correction
file is completed and stored in the Zenith.
The last function is the nonlinear
correction. It creates a correction file that mainly works to correct
for those distortions produced by the transmitter. It takes a few
minutes to auto-range the input signal and activate and converge
the VSA equalizer before gathering data. It then generates corrections
and stores them in memory. The user must initiate moving that file
to nonvolatile memory. That move takes about 5 minutes.
The linear correction mostly effects
the flatness of response within the channel. The nonlinear correction
extends the skirts. The software does it all. There are no pots
to tweak or coils to tune.
How successful the program is, is
highly dependant on the linearity of the driver and the match between
the driver and the IOT. In transmitters using the EEV IOT there
is a double-slugged tuner between the driver and the IOT input.
Its position impacts the match, the flatness and the skirts. Using
the Zenith monitoring program to put the VSA in spectrum analyzer
mode, you can observe that the position of the slug assembly effects
signal flatness. The position between the slugs adjusts the balance
of the skirts, and any change at all will impact the match. Heck
of a balancing act. If you get it right, the linear correction will
just gallop along and resolve to a low EVM within a few minutes.
If you have it wrong, it will take a long time to see much improvement
and the final value won’t be all that great.
has been that once corrections are generated that they remain stable
for weeks. There really isn’t any reason to continually redo corrections
in a stable system.
Cable Labs - A Ray of Hope
Television broadcasters have been
moving into the digital television arena with considerable caution and
trepidation as alarmists and soothsayers predict any number of not so positive
scenarios. Remember, according CEMA,
about eighty percent of Americans get their television service via cable and
reports have it that little has been accomplished to establish standards.
With a July 1, 2000, deadline established by the FCC and not knowing when
the cable television industry will get their collective acts together, its no
wonder that broadcasters can only hope the efforts of "OpenCable," the
CableLabs-managed project in the Denver suburb of Louisville, Colorado, will be
successful in meeting the deadline.
CableLabs spokesperson Mike
Schwartz is not the least bit hesitant in talking about who his organization is
or what they do. Schwartz says:
"OpenCable is the project that seeks to facilitate the development of
advanced digital devices from multiple suppliers that will communicate, or
interoperate, with one another." The
really important part of what Schwartz has to say is: "The project is
working to achieve a retail available set-top box (STB) or integrated television
set that employs a point-of-deployment (POD) module interface
With literally hundreds of
manufacturers each making a specific part of the puzzle, CableLabs is the place
where they all come together to see if their part fits or not.
By sharing relevant technologies, CableLabs acts as a clearinghouse to
provide information on current and prospect projects to others within the cable
industry. With member support,
CableLabs is also able to plan and fund research and development projects that
are mutually beneficial.
Lisa Lee, director of OpenCable
project told The Tech Notes: "The consumer will have many innovative
products available as a result of many industries working together to make
OpenCable a reality." Acknowledging
the cooperative efforts within their current project, Lee said:
"Significant accomplishments, such as the completion of the hardware
specifications and the incubator phase of testing, have been made possible by
the teamwork across industries. These accomplishments would never have been
possible without the contributions of General Instrument, Scientific-Atlanta,
Divicom, SCM Microsystems and the consumer electronics Industry."
"We are very lucky to have these companies as our partners in this
endeavor," Lee concluded.
CableLabs recently completed its
first wave of OpenCable interoperability testing.
Subscription management systems (SMS) and conditional access (CA) play a
big roll in most every cable system. Broadcasters
may well employ some or all of these techniques, as multicasting becomes more
popular as a way to offer pay per view (PPV) or near video on demand (NVOD)
services. The focus of these first tests were on removable security cards that
would work in conjunction with SMS, CA, PPV, NVOD and other such features.
A name familiar to Tech Note
readers, Microtune participates and benefits from a relationship with CableLabs.
Microtune demonstrated capability of its single chip tuner to perform
both analog video and QAM 256-modulated digital data in an integrated
As the term, Integrated Receiver
Decoder (IRD) implies, these devices, the STB, draws on several disciplines from
diverse areas: Tuners, decoders, filters and even encryption techniques, along
with other such technologies. These
are but a few of the may part which go into making up only the simplest of STBs.
Some manufacturers plan on including hard drives and other such feature
rich items, as the consumers determine their own needs and the markets develop.
Not only cable companies will
benefit from the efforts of CableLabs and the OpenCable work, but Broadcasters,
as well will stand to play a big roll as the areas of interactivity evolve and
other uses of the data parts of digital television.
Broadcast engineers will have to become familiar with this technology as
you can bet your life when the General Manager finds out there is another source
of revenue through this technology, he'll be ganging at the Chief Engineer's
door wanting to know how soon he can get it installed.
Certification of a product is the
goal and pride of participants. CableLabs
is not a "Good old Boys" organization who passes out the
certifications indiscriminately. Compliance
to the letter of the specification is an absolute must. Once certified, consumers can rest assured of quality
reviewing material for this story, modem suppliers were the topic of one bit of
information. In researching the
subject, it was found to be indicative of participation. The modem suppliers
whose products have been certified by CableLabs reads like a whose whom in the
cable and broadcast industries. For
more information on participants in this effort and CableLabs themselves, they
maintain several web sites: www.cablelabs.com; www.cablemodem.com;
www.cablenet.org; www.opencable.com; and www.packetcable.com.
And Microtune can be reached at www.microtune.com.
Picking Up Steam
by Jim Mendrala
At Show East D-Cinema was the one of the big topics under discussion. In
addition to a panel on The Advent of Digital Cinema there also was a SMPTE Task
Force on Digital Cinema meeting convened by Ioan Allen, Dolby. Curt Behlmer was
appointed chairman of the SMPTE Task Force On Digital Cinema.
Topics discussed by the Show East Panel included Conditional Access (Encryption)
Theater needs for D-Cinema, D-Cinema from a Studio Perspective and How Kodak
The feeling is that D-Cinema is right around the corner but has yet to be
defined. Several digital projections were shown but it was also said that as
good as the movies displayed where they were not up to yet what Hollywood has in
mind. They were certainly "good enough" to start the D-Cinema rolling
Since George Lucas announced at Show West back in March that Lucas Films was to
release "Star Wars - The Phantom Menace" in Digital Cinema a lot has
happened. Miramar's "The Ideal Husband" and Disney's
"Tarzan" has been shown in D-Cinema both on the West and East coasts.
Even though film was the backup in case the D-Cinema failed it did not have to
be used. The D-Cinema projectors racked up over 1,000 hours of flawless
The next D-Cinema to hit some 20 screens will be Disney's "Toy Story
2" in November. Like Tarzan the D-Cinema will be just that digital. No film
used in going from the animation done on computers to the motion picture screen.
Subj: Duopoly Makes For
With the ink hardly dry in the
FCC's recent ruling that allows a company to own two television stations in the
same market under certain circumstances, you can bet the broadcast corporate
legal types and bean counters are scheming and conniving to figure out ways to
maximize their holdings. The new
ruling opens the way for cost savings and programming flexibility's not
heretofore available to owners of television stations. As a result it didn't
come as any big surprise when media giants CBS and Viacom announced last month
that they were putting their corporate heads together.
The marriage will not come, however without its own set of unique
problems, but not insurmountable problems.
For openers, the FCC also says
that no one television station owner can hold title to stations whose viewership
would exceed 35 percent of the total US TV market.
The big problem with this corporate knot tying is that CBS is almost
there with 15 television stations, and the acquisition of one more is in the
mill. Viacom brings to the table 19 stations of its own. With the acquisition of CBS by Viacom there is not only
duopoly in Boston, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, but the 35
percent limit would be exceeded.
The post Labor Day announcement by
was billed as "the largest media transaction ever." The newly merged
companies will carry the name Viacom. Their
combined assets make them, if not the biggest, one of the biggest entertainment
organizations in the world. Talk
about your one stop shop, the new Viacom is capable of producing, promoting and
distributing nearly every conceivable kind of entertainment, news, sports and
music, and all under one roof. The trade names of their services and products
are readily identifiable, well respected and strongly patronized.
In case you don't know, heading up the new media giant will be Sumner Redstone,
who will retain the title of Chairman and CEO of the new Viacom.
All operations in the newly combined company will, however report to Mel
Karmazin, former President and Chief Executive Officer of the CBS Corporation,
will become the new company's President and Chief Operating Officer. Needless to
say it will not all happen overnight. In
addition to certain closing conditions, federally imposed waiting times, FCC
approval and other governmental regulatory agency approvals, the nod must still
come from CBS Corporate shareholder before the final seals are set.
All this should take the new company well into the first half of next
Obviously, business has not gone
on as usual. The CBS acquisition of
King World Productions, Inc has been put on the backburner for a while as was a
King World's shareholders meeting. No
word was mentioned about the possible departure from the fold by Blockbuster,
but the merger of Viacom and CBS has many a tongue a waging. This deal involves
not only a list of companies, anyone of which is impressive buy itself, but
involves the lives, fortunes and destiny's of many thousands of employees around
Here's just a partial list of what
is involved in the Viacom-CBS merger:
In the filed of Cable television
there are a number of cable networks that include: MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, TNN,
CMT, MTV2, TV Land, Home Team Sports and Midwest Sports Channel; pay channels
Showtime, The Movie Channel and FLIX, and interests in Comedy Central, Noggin
and Sundance Channel, and other cable programming operations outside the United
In broadcasting they now own a sizeable chunk of Infinity Broadcasting
Corporation, a radio and outdoor media company; The have, arguably, the largest
aggregation of television properties in the nation, including the CBS Television
Network and stations in all top ten markets, with 18 of the top 20 markets
covered as well;
They're in the motion picture business with no less a name then Paramount
Pictures who has a library of more than 2,500 titles including some of the like
Titanic (the highest grossing motion
picture of all time);
There production and syndication operations include: CBS Productions, Paramount Television, Eyemark Entertainment,
Viacom Productions and Spelling, not to mention possibly King World, previously
They own the book publishing
company, Simon & Schuster, the video tape rental company Blockbuster Video,
who has over 6,000 stores in 27 countries and Five theme parks,
With other recent exchanges for advertising time, they now have a significant
and growing Internet presence, on some of the best-known sites on the Web,
including cbs.sportsline.com, cbs.marketwatch.com, mtv.com, SonicNet.com,
vh1.com, and Nick.com.
Even with this list of "what
we've got's" from both CBS and
Viacom, it's hard to sort out who has what. Viacom has another relationship
which, to say the least is interesting. They,
with Chris-Craft Industries, who owns 10 stations, began the UPN Network.
Chris-Craft also controls BHC Inc. and United Television Inc., both of which own
television stations. The new FCC duopoly rules make the Chris-Craft properties
much more valuable, but it's hard to say when and if any of the principals
involved will call, fold or bust.
At first thought, one could not
help but wonder how this and other mergers might impact the DTV migration and
build-out schedule. In speaking
with John Morgan of the FCC, he said; "The CBS-Viacom merger will not have
any impact on any of their respective stations.
Those determinations were made a long time ago."
But Viacom and CBS are not the
only companies who have exchanged notes and this will not be the last of the
"new big deals." The new
duopoly ruling has thrown open the doors of possibility and you can be assured
that many other broadcasters have entered similar kinds of dialogue. The
companies who have not done some talking would be more the exception than the
More than one NBC executive has suggested over the past year that GE would like
to spin off the Peacock network and her stations, but inquires about such a move
have all been treat with derision.
Under these new set of rules, there is little doubt, based on GE's track
record, that anyone with the right pocket change could have them, but yet they
might try to grow with the flow.
Other smaller group owners and
lessor networks are more likely to find the "lets get together"
conversation one that will be come as familiar as a schoolboy chatting with his
bevy of girlfriends. One recent
report in the Hollywood trades suggested that Berry Diller, the Chairman of USA
Network, has been in conversation with Disney's ABC with merger on his mind.
The biggest concern to engineers
is that nothing will remain constant. With
these new duopoly rules, the chances of consolidations and staff reductions are
very real. The only thing broadcast
engineers can do is to make themselves move valuable to their employer is by
broadening their knowledge base and marketable skills.
It is interesting to note that
since this story was originally written about a week ago, according to
Broadcasting & Cable: “The Senate antitrust committee will hold a hearing
to examine the antitrust implications of the proposed merger of Viacom and CBS.
Tentatively scheduled to testify are Viacom's Sumner Redstone, CBS' Mel
Karmazin and public interest advocate Andrew Schwartzman.”
May the deepest pockets win!
An Affordable DTV Set-top Box
Affordable is a relative term. Up
until now the STBs on the market have been the far side of $1300. Some have had
a narrow input signal window and had severe trouble handling modest amounts of
multipath. Changing channels was an act of faith and rather bumpy. All that is
about to change. Expect to see ads promoting a STB that handles NTSC, DTV and
DSS, bundled with a 36” monitor at a price in the neighborhood of $3000. The
stand alone STB will list at $650.
The box puts out NTSC video and
audio, modulated NTSC on ch 3-4, S-Video, and multipin HD. The chips and their
programming are far more robust than anything on the market now. Locations where
channel X can’t be received, this STB will receive it. I know because I’ve
had one to try since July. I just sent it back for brain surgery because
they’ve gone through three software releases in the meantime.
If you pull the power plug and
then restore power it will come back to the state it was in prior to the
interruption. Whatever channel you were watching, that’s what it will come
back to. If you’re watching on an NTSC receiver you can set the picture to be
4:3. There is an on-screen signal strength reading you can use to peak your
antenna. It has two antenna inputs plus DSS.
is the RCA DTV100 by Thompson. For more details look under new products at www.RCA.com
We got an e-mail from an organization that plans to put on a digital
audio seminar. We had to nearly
pull teeth to find out the “who, what, where and when” about it.
The only reason we are mentioning it here is that several of the
advertised instructors or moderators are well known professionals in the
industry and may well be worth your time to look into it.
We, therefore, are passing on the web page for your information with any
endorsements what so ever. The
event is The Surround 2000 Conference to be held on
Friday and Saturday, November 5th and 6th, at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly
Hills, CA and is being put on by the TMH
Corporation, 3375 South Hoover St, Suite J, Los Angeles, CA 90007 who can be
reached at 213-742-0030. Don’t be
surprised if the answers to your questions are as vague as we got when we called.
www.TMHLabs.com for more information.)
The Editors and Publishers of the Tech Notes wish to thank Des
Chaskelson, Research Director of SCRI International for his generosity in
posting the Tech Notes on the SCRI web site.
From: Des Chaskelson, Research
Director, SCRI International (email@example.com)
Re: New Website with Industry
Press Releases Plus New HDTV Survey
Check out the SCRI web site, where
the Tech Notes are published, for some really great information on industry
trends and other very valuable marketing information, trade news and current
television events. SCRI is
currently in preparation of our latest survey, analyses and report.
The Tech Notes are published
for broadcast professionals, and others, who are interested in DTV, HDTV,
Electronic Cinema, etc., by Larry Bloomfield and Jim Mendrala.
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