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Published by: Larry Bloomfield & Jim Mendrala
E-mail = email@example.com or J.Mendrala@ieee.org
May 22, 2000
Tech Note - 056
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- Andrew Jackson
won't matter in your lifetime or mine."
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Note: He’s probably 50% right.)
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The Tech-Notes are posted and past issues available
am disappointed to find three glaring inaccuracies on the HDPictures
ONE... 480p is characterized as "SDTV".
It is not. It is at least EDTV, and is part of Table 3 whether
you give that document credibility or not.
I also completely disagree with the characterization of 480p as
"a TAD better than NTSC..." 480p is about 75% better than
480i in ALL respects.
720p and 1080i BOTH should be classified as "TRUE HDTV".
from Larry Bloomfield
I am responding since Tech Notes are published
on this website as well. I could not find the exact quote
that Cliff is referring to, but according to international authority,
unless the picture is twice the scan line as the standard definition
signal, it is not considered high definition. Because any
of these dozen or so standards are part of Table 3, this alone does
not make one standard or high definition. There has been considerable
debate on weather 720P is HDTV or not as it does not meet this criteria.
If, in some international eyes 720P doesn’t qualify as HDTV, then
we know for sure that 480p is most assuredly SDTV. I’ve run
my “finder” over the entire text of Table 3 and can find no mention
480p pictures are better than 480i NTSC, but I believe it was the
authors choice of words, “TAD,” that may have upset Cliff and I
can bear no responsibility for that nor try to answer it either,
what he had in mind by “TAD.”
Comments filed In the Matter of Review of the Commission's
Rules and Policies Affecting the Conversion to Digital Television
What should be the most serious of events,
to date; along the path in the migration to digital television,
is the Biennial Review by the FCC, which is currently in process.
Because the FCC is a politically appointed
organization that marches to the tune and at the pleasure of the
political whims of the holders of the reigns (and yes I spelled
that way on purpose) of power with in the DC beltway, it is even
more important to become a part of this process before it turns
into another Washingtonian quagmire and debacle.
the clamor of accusations that this is only a face saving gesture
on the commission’s part and that there are special interests and
hidden agendas afoot, it would be wise to watch each and every move
of the participants with a “life or death” vested interest as a
hungry eagle might, looking for food to feeding her starving young.
are many issues that need to be address within this forum, but unless
each and everyone of us pays due diligence to the efforts, actions
and proceedings, of those conducting this event, this may end up
one of the greatest debaucheries the broadcast industry has seen
in its short seventy-five plus year history.
Issues, such as modulation standards, DTV
must carry and translator/LPTV transitions to the wonderful world
of digital are only the tip of the iceberg. There are many
more issues that need to be addressed and hopefully they won’t fall
through the cracks.
A very rhetorical question: When was
it that you heard one of these Washington bureaucrats say: “we are
working for the common good,” when in reality they should have finished
the sentence by adding: “providing it lines our pockets or those
we are fronting for?” A modification of the old Roman saying:
Let the broadcasters beware!
The more comments that are filed, the more
visible this whole Biennial Review business, and, in turn, the tighter
these self-serving residence of the Washington DMA will have to
“toe the line.” This is an opportunity to exercise you
right to free speech and I don’t mean doing so by being quiet.
Check out the links listed below. See what others have had
to say, so far, and add your two cents, even if you only have a
smidgen or scintilla of interest in this matter. As the Pontiac
add says: “More is better!”
of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers
& Edison, Inc.
(the longest of the comments filed to date)
Television Systems Committee
Joint Broadcasters, Filed By: Covington &
Pennsylvania State University
Oregon Broadcasting, Inc.
Associates Limited Partnership
Telecasting of Southern California, LLC
Policy and Rules Division
By the time you get this, there will probably
be more. Check the FCC’s web page for more information:
A Reality Check
(Ed Note: Lee Wood is Director
of Engineering at KOIN-TV, Portland, OR. Any opinions he may
inadvertently expressed are his own. Email: email@example.com
I have had the pleasure of attending several
of the IECF sessions taking place here in Portland and meeting face
to face several participants of the group. It has inspired
me to launch a new (anew?) review of the situation from my perspective
so far removed from the Washington beltway.
There have been numerous comments involving
the future or lack of it for Over-The-Air Free Television.
Many of these included opinions that a new 'business model' is needed
NOW or even that NOW is already too late. While I do understand
the we now live on Internet time (see, the useful life of this message
is already over), I do not agree that present day broadcasting is
fossilized. In fact, there is still quite a bit of meat on
the bones and they are moving around.
Does conventional television broadcasting
need to 'develop a new business model'? That presumes that
the old one is static and unchanging. As a local broadcaster
I can say that it is not. OTA broadcasters still reach over
90% of all households some time during the week. The nearest
'cable' network is far, far below that. It may not be with
the primetime network fare, but they continue to tune in and find
something we provide useful to them. We continue to look for
new ways to attract more of that audience and improve on their loyalty
to our brand. This has always involved an evolution of what
we do into what our customers want. (Not a lot of westerns
on TV today are there? And wrestling is back in vogue.)
This is how broadcasters have maintained their audience appeal in
the face of what are now hundreds of channels of competition.
Are we planning to use the DTV channel as
a functional replacement for the analog channel? Only so far
as that is the entry point. We need to walk before we can
run. And we need the tools and understand how to use them
before we can take our new digital opportunities and craft something
with the audience appeal beyond what we have today. The tools
are not there yet and we are doing our part, working with others
in various disciplines, to help develop those tools as we learn
how to use them. As we do this, our primary focus will continue
to be as an information and entertainment medium. We will
also continue to be primarily a passive medium. Now before
you jump all over that statement let me add that we will also learn
to apply the already identified 'digital interactive' opportunities
to create enhanced broadcast content, again, once the tools are
there and the audience base technically able to receive them.
Are we looking for new opportunities?
You bet you! HDTV is just part of the types of service we
will continue to provide. As an iBlast partner we see datacasting,
both as a carrier and a content originator, as one such opportunity.
We will begin experimenting with this in the very near future with
our various developing partners. Multicasting, in various
forms and combinations is another. We have already experimented
with this during NCAA with a reasonable response. I don't
anticipate stopping here. The entire scope of what we can
do is so new that the 'killer apps' are still to be developed and
likely has not bee thought of.
As we continue the transition we will also
continue the traditional broadcast model with its public policy
goal of being nearly universally available through the combination
of over-the-air and cable delivery. (Satellite delivery of
a digital broadcast signal is very unlikely for now.) I would
expect that the most successful of the new services we broadcasters
create will continue to support this type of model because at the
end of the day it is the CONTENT that we deliver to our customers
that makes us successful. It is also what makes us unique.
a few words about the technology...
The consumer product available on the market
has not a clue on how the broadcaster might create new or enhanced
content. (The first Betamax VCR couldn't be pre-set to record
a program either - it was done with an external timer.) Until
there is content direction the consumer electronics business will
not develop the new features to take advantage of it. (Have
you seen some of the unfriendly and ugly PSIP based channel guides?)
They will follow from a distance; they will not lead. Broadcasters
will have to push the bubble out first. If the CE folks really
want to build the sizzle of digital television they should be looking
at including digital tuners in to more and more models on their
own. Even an SD signal on a 27-inch set will be improved.
Add in the PSIP guide, 'interactive' enhancements to programs, and
other new content features and you have a viable product that makes
getting a digital set, even a non-HD set, into homes (and out of
Cable is still integral to the broadcast model.
It is not going away and it is not becoming any easier to work WITH.
As systems add digital tiers they add dozens of content sources
that pull a national audience in the 10s of thousands for a program
when local broadcaster produced content has far more appeal.
In major markets within a very short time (normal time, not Internet
time) you will have enough digital set owners looking for content
to easily out draw most of the digital cable content. Cable
should listen to its customers and work with broadcasters to provide
the HD and digital content the broadcasters will be providing.
It is their one big asset over satellite services. They argue
that they will have to kick off ten of their highly prized channels,
like CSPAN or ESPN2, to accommodate digital stations. Since
they are creating new tiers where there was no service before this
claim is ridiculous. They also forget to mention that in the
closed cable environment that they really would only occupy half
the stated number of services. There are a few enlightened
systems, Cablevision, Cox, Time-Warner and others, that see the
value of being first to provide their customers with the HD content
broadcasters provide. The others are missing the advantage
they could have just so they can fight over it later.
Modulation (DUCK!), while it MAY present numerous
challenges in the US broadcast model to stick with 8VSB, I STILL
await EVIDENCE that a change NOW is required. I am waiting
to see what the MSTV results may reveal. It is also an issue
of what will be received as well as what will be transmitted.
If the CE builders include multi-mode tuners then it doesn't matter
what broadcasters send out. (If the Sinclair proposal to permit
multiple modulation systems were implemented this would be required
anyway.) Do I expect 'miracle' chips? No - I just expect
continuing product improvement that has always taken place in consumer
electronics (just much over sampling and buffering does a portable
CD player need?) to meet the needs of the customer. By any
measure it is not there yet. If there is going to be continuing
design work then dual mode tuners could be included as part of that
and probably find applications in international markets. This
way, if, after careful testing and analysis, a modulation change
is needed it would be relatively painless for the masses.
We are far enough from that decision that proper planning is still
possible. A rush to judgment is not necessary. Let's just
get it right.
Regards to all and now it is time to head
Subj: TV set or PC Monitor?
From: Stephen W. Long and Larry Bloomfield
Note: Stephen Long is the Chairman of the Department of Defense,
Intelligence Community - United States Imagery and Geospatial Services
Video Working Group.)
light of recent press releases by Mitsubishi saying that
their Digital-TV sales in the US are rising, one cannot help but
wonder what is happening amidst all the talk of DTV being abysmal
failure on one front or another. The grassroots issue that
rises before any other is the cost. The average household
has a problem with a five or six hundred-dollar expense when it
comes to replacing the family boob tube, much less the cost of a
DTV set at nearly ten to twenty times that amount.
Webcasting and streaming video, as they improves
over the Internet will have their place, but no one in the civilian
community has ever advocated, much less envisioned themselves, watching
a PC for long-form TV programming. Yet much of the technology for
reaching the wonderful world of DTV is based around many of the
techniques imbedded in the computer world, but to paraphrase Winston
Churchill, “We are two great industries separated by a common electronic
discipline.” Both have their place and there are aspects of
both industries technologies, which can be merged for the betterment
of anyone wanting to enjoy his or her favorite program.
Then why does everyone continue to talk about
PC displays as if they are always laptop class LCDs? Steve
reports that he purchased a 35” NetTV progressive scan CRT display
for his family room, and drives it with a 1024x768 PC that has a
DVD player in it. He also has a "standard" DVD player
that he drives the Y/C input of the NetTV. He can switch back
and forth. Steve says that the PC DVD is significantly superior
to the stand alone DVD. The next upgrade to his PC will come
this summer when he hopes to take delivery on an ATI plug-in card
to accommodate OTA HDTV reception for this PC.
Given a Moore's law PC universe, where one
can buy a DVD equipped PC for $595 (Steve bought two for Christmas;
one for his Dad, one for his Brother), and he can buy a 35"
NetTV for ~$1600, and a HDTV PC card for $300, I can have all of
the benefits of the digital entertainment age (PC, DVD, OTA HDTV...)
at a total price in the neighborhood of $2600. Given the lighting
conditions, spouse factor (furniture size/placement), and the sometimes-questionable
"value" of the entertainment content, this is about as
much as he am willing to pay for his "TV."
Steve very aptly put it: “If I can figure
this out, why can't the big CE manufacturers figure it out?
Just build me (and 100 million other consumers) a "box"
that has a PC's guts, put in the DVD, OTA card, etc., equip it with
an IR remote control, GUI and get on with it! Life is way
too short to put up with the continued stupidity from CE manufacturers
trying to sell $5000 sets that don't do boo.”
Amen and hallelujah!
Steve & Larry
From: Jim Waschura
SyntheSys Research Inc (makers of DTV and Communications
test equipment) is looking for a couple of senior-level software
engineers with experience architecting user interface and hardware
control systems. We're located in Menlo Park, California next-door
to Palo Alto. Video experience is a big plus! See our
website or contact:
(Ed Note: 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. http://WWW.SCRI.com).
SUBJECT: H/DTV Budgets at US TV Stations
Plus SCRI New Reports
FROM: Des Chaskelson, Research Director (firstname.lastname@example.org)
SCRI International (www.scri.com)
Data from the recent 2000 H/DTV survey of US
TV Stations shows that over half of all stations (51%) expect to
spend between $2 and $7.5 million in total on their conversion to
digital; 11% expect to spend less than $2.5M; 7.9% expect to spend
$7.5 - $10M; 11% between $10 - $15M; 16.5% were unsure.
These figures are very representative of the
norm if all parts of the transition are taken into account:
tower, transmission system, studio and ENG/EFP facilities.
The 17% who don't know can take their cue from the $2.5-$7.5M that
most stations are budgeting for.
The full report is available from SCRI -- online
table of contents at:
Also, New 2000 Product Reports - Market Size
and Brand Shares for over 20 Product Categories -- http://www.scri.com/sc_bpvm_2000products.html
Coming Soon - Streaming Video Survey Among Broadcast
and Pro Video Facilities send any questions you would like to see
included to: email@example.com.
Parting Shots & Food for thought:
- Larry is doing some research on Set Top Boxes
(STB). If you know anything about them, please give him
a call or e-mail him.
2. Do 8-VSB proponents fear the Sinclair
proposal? If so, why?
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