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Published by: Larry Bloomfield & Jim Mendrala
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July 10, 2000

Tech Note - 059

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Reader comments:
From: John Luff
RE: Tech-Notes #058

I respectfully disagree with your characterization of the operating rules of ATSC. To my knowledge all standards organizations operate under similar guidelines, and the rules are not meant to foil the public "interest, convenience, and necessity", or to reduce the 4th estate to rumor mongers, though that has at times been the effect. All, or at least the majority of the companies, research laboratories, and consultants involved in ATSC, SMPTE, ITU, SCTE, AES, IEEE, and other standards setting activities respond to the commercial agenda's of their employers and patrons. They try to fairly present their needs, and negotiate in a semi-public manner technically acceptable solutions to the problems in our industry. Without this effort virtually none of the major advances in our business would have happened. My company is a member of ATSC, and a sustaining member of SMPTE.  We participate with our own funds for altruistic and commercial reasons. Our basic motives are rooted in having access to knowledge and relationships that can grow out of our participation, however peripheral. While I may at times disagree with some of the content and tone of the current deliberations I have agreed to keep my silence on the content and will do so, or risk my own integrity. My overriding self-interest and commercial need is to help in any way possible to move the debate to conclusions that are positive for our industry. I intend to do nothing that would jeopardize that effort, out of concern for my company and clients.
When companies negotiate in public it is clear there are risks, and the more public the more dangerous the risk. It is also clear that individual parties to the technical issues have work to do that does not in most cases include responding to the press. ATSC (and SMPTE and other organizations) are to be commended for the hard, exhausting work they perform, largely with volunteer labor. While you may wish to know all of what goes on, so you can use your bully pulpit (which is your commercial activity) to relate your analysis of the goings on, you are asking that the process conform to your needs and not those of the participants. 
If your role is "reporter" you will have to be satisfied with a sideline view. If you wish to be on the offensive line your role will be different, and you will probably not wish to tell tales out of school about what the defense said about your mother's heritage. If you are permitted to air the fresh and dirty laundry without also having to participate and put things at risk like the participants your special treatment would be at the expense of all who labor long and hard, and would diminish the value and results.
I would suggest you cultivate relationships directly with the participants in the debate and get your background information from them, and then spend time cogitating over the information so that the best of journalistic analysis is possible. Reporting the raw events will not serve either history or the present debate. 
While I respect you for your efforts and knowledge, on this you are dead wrong.

John A. Luff
Larry Bloomfield Responds:

Just because we have always done something the same way for a long time doesn’t make it right or correct.  There are many engineers who hold your same myopic viewpoint.  I obviously disagree.  You say:  “Reporting the raw events will not serve either history or the present debate.”  Since I have never claimed to be a reporter or journalist, my response is that of a fellow engineer:  Poppycock!  Many important milestones in history have been lost to rumor, innuendo and other such kinds of inaccuracies as the result of your kind of thinking.  There are many reporters who would tell you though, you are treading on first amendment rights and the right for the public, technical or not, to know what you guys are up to.

You probably would not have permitted George Simon Ohm into your meetings, as he was not a broadcast engineer.  The same would apply to Galvani and many others who made significant contributions to electricity and electronics.  Only after PUBLIC debate oriented to the setting of standards that affect “everyone” can we rest assured that everyone’s best interests have been served and the agendas of various special interests have not been permitted to run ramped.  As the man says:  “If the shoe fits – wear it!”

In closing, I’m not wrong and be assured that I am not either dead nor has anyone around me found me to be dead.  Your comments then, are either exaggerations or wishful thinking. 



From: "Ralph P. Manfredo"
Subject: Tech-Notes #058

I did correct my error re: 1/2 D1 in an email I received, but failed to notify the Tech Notes Authors.  The correct resolution is 352x480.  And yes, 1/2 D1 is better than MPEG-1 and analog video.  Also, one of the biggest errors some people make if confusing PC resolutions with TV resolutions.  This is quite common as we try to go back and forth between technologies.
Ralph P. Manfredo


Subject: Infocom 2000 Report
By:  Jim Mendrala

Infocomm 2000 this year was held at the Anaheim Convention Center this year. There were many companies showing the latest in display technology. All of the major projector manufacturers were there including: Barco, NEC, JVC, Sony and Panasonic. There were also some new faces too, such as Imax who now owns Digital Projection and Christie who now owns Electrohome.

There were a record number of attendees who attended Infocomm 2000. The count was 26,241 up 12 percent from last years Infocomm 1999 held in Orlando, FL. Infocomm had a record 5,000 attend their Education and Training seminars.

A record number 14,000 attendees participated in the Projection Shoot-Out. Unfortunately the Shoot-Out this year was not as good as last year. The main complaint was that the overhead lights were left on to simulate ambient light but some manufacturers were under the lights and some were not making an evaluation of the projected images impossible. The large venue projection displays were opposite of each other and the light from the screens on one side of the area would fall on the screens on the other side of the area completely washing out the dark areas in the pictures. It was rumored that on opening day the fire marshal delayed the opening for 10 minutes because of the darkness in the Projection Shoot-Out area. Whatever the story it was felt that the manufacturers wanted to get the attendees back into the booths so that side-by-side evaluations were not possible.

The video feeds to the projectors and flat panel displays (FPD) in the shoot-out were not played back from D-5 videotape but were being played back from QuVis’ QuBit boxes. The QuVis boxes use proprietary wavelet compression but no one in the control room had any knowledge of the amount of compression or the signal-to-noise settings used. The QuVis was used for the HDTV as well as the SDTV signals. Other manufacturers were also using QuVis boxes for the convenience.

A lot of the big projectors were in the UXGA category with their native 1280 x 1024 arrays. These arrays with their 1.25:1 aspect ratio were being used to project scope transfers in the letterboxed 2.4:1 aspect ratios. The screens were mainly set up for the 16 x 9 aspect ratios so that all of the pixels were not being used. Typically the images projected were either 1280 x 720 or 1280 x 530. One company, Lasergraphics Inc.  had a small LCD projector with 1920 x 1440 resolution. The HDTV pictures were letterboxed as usual but the letterboxed area was being used for advertising. This was one of the few true HDTV projectors seen at the show.

Barco used dual SXGA 1024 x 760 projectors mounted side by side and blended the two Projectors flawlessly in the middle to create a 2.4:1 display with over 1.3 million pixels.

Panoram Technologies, Inc. did the same thing in their booth using three projectors to make an extremely wide aspect ratio image.

All in all, HDTV and SDTV video displayed on the various projectors looked for the most part very good. Only a few manufacturers were offering the new digital video interface (DVI). DVI provides a secure digital link between video source (PC, DVD, etc) and a display device (projector, monitor, television, etc.). DVI supports PC resolutions beyond 1600 x 1200 (UXGA) and all HDTV resolutions without compression including 720 and 1080 lines progressive and interlaced. DVI with high-bandwidth digital content protection (HDCP) is the only industry accepted, low cost, digitally protected link with a bandwidth of over 5 gigabits per second. Those manufacturers that did have DVI interfaces had very good noise free pictures.

Some of the HDTV FPD looked very good but the price tag is still very high. 

Samsung showed two of their Tantus FLCD HDTV ready television receivers, one a 43-inch and one 50-inch wide screen using a 16:9 display, and both using Displaytech’s ferroelectric liquid crystal display (FLCD) chips with 1280 x 720 pixels. These are said to be HDTV ready and will be on sale in the last quarter of this year.

Texas Instruments (TI) showed what their digital micromirror devices (DMD) can do for displays of the present and future. Projectors under 8 pounds to large venue projectors as well as HDTV sets of the future.

There were more than 30 projector manufacturers showing their wares. Upon closing more than 94 percent signed up for next years Infocomm 2001 to be held in Las Vegas next year, June 13-15, 2001 at the Sands Expo Center. Hopefully the ICIA will do their homework and will have a Projector Shoot-Out that won’t be as flawed as this year was.



Subject:  iBlast
From: Pete Lude' VP, Broadcast Engineering, iBlast Networks

We've been monitoring this discussion with interest... and amazement at the amount of speculation that our simple actions have fueled.   I thought it's time we pipe in, and set the record straight:

iBlast has been conducting a great deal of testing of 8VSB indoor reception over the past six months, as part of our data broadcasting network roll-out.  Our observations of real-life conditions  (as well as a peek at new technologies form the labs) have made us very optimistic about delivering broadband content using the existing DTV standard.  We can’t wait to start!

So why the retraction of our FCC filing?  iBlast is owned by some of the nation’s leading broadcast group owners.    Upon reflection, we realized that our voice must be harmonized with those of our partners.  Rather then filing independently, we withdrew our statement in order to speak through the iBlast-founding partners, who are fully backing the MSTV efforts to analytically assess the defacto standard.   We respect the disciplined process of MSTV, and along with the iBlast founding partners, will wait for their findings.

Is 8VSB perfect?  Of course not.  No more so then my cell phone, satellite receiver or cable TV service.  There are inherent strengths and weaknesses to any transmission system.   We at iBlast feel that we have a compelling business model based upon the 19.4 Mb/sec fixed-receiver 8-VSB system and feel confident that the rapidly evolving technology road map is on track.  Of course, the iBlast network would also work well with COFDM, ISDB or other future modulation schemes.  But we’re not getting wrapped up in the “grass is greener” syndrome.

Here’s the point:   the existing standard can be used TODAY to help broadcasters launch new services for their communities… let’s get on with it.

Like any engineer worth his/her salt, we at iBlast have lots of personal opinions.  But at the end of the day, this debate must be resolved through industry consensus driven by the measured process of objective analysis -- not by the fanatic proponents who seem to be dominating much of the debate.  We'll be working with our founding partner broadcasters toward this end.  Our motives couldn't be simpler:  iBlast wants to make a business out of DTV... sooner rather then later.

Pete Lude'


Subject: Antennas for DTV 
From: Pete Putman

I have been testing a variety of antennas at my home in Bucks County, eastern Pennsylvania - 25 miles from Philadelphia DTV transmitters and 65 miles from Empire State Building in New York City.

I can receive 5 stations from Philly (KYW-26, WTXF-42, WHYY-55, WPVI-64, and WCAU-67), plus both New York City stations (WCBS-56 and WNYW-44), and even the pilot signal from the PBS station in Harrisburg, about 60 miles SW. Six of the stations are consistently receivable. WHYY-DT is going to full power this weekend, so I assume they'll join the club.

The antenna that works flat-out best is a Channel Master model 
4221/3201, which is made of four-bay crossed UHF dipoles with a turkey wire screen reflector. It's about 30" by 48" and costs all of $20. 

It has the best gain above channel 60 (important around here) and appears to handle multipath ans signal fading better than other models. 
I also use a Channel Master #7775 preamp to boost S/N and overcome some losses in the feedline (80' of RG-6), which is connected through an RCA splitter to Panasonic TU-DST50 and TU-DST51 set top boxes.

I looked at the entire system with an IFR spectrum analyzer. The preamp provides about 24 - 26 dB of gain with a 2 dB noise figure at 700 MHz. 
The multipath performance of the #4221/3021 is much better than even the longer Radio Shack and Channel Master antennas.

Receiving signal strength appears to be independent of weather conditions, except during heavy fog and drizzle when KYW-DT drops in and out but WCBS-DT 65 miles distant holds up fine.

I have tested over 15 different antennas and still the 4221/3021 comes out on top. 

Test results are available as Excel spreadsheets - drop me an email. I will be using a Tektronix spectrum analyzer in July to run some more signal strength and multipath tests with this antenna, around the hilly area.

Pete Putman


Subject: The looming economic question
From: Dermot Nolan 

Let me give you the following scenario:

Congress instructs the FCC to adopt a position of technology neutrality and broadcasters are free to decide which DTV system to use.

ABC, NBC, Sinclair, the independents and the datacasters opt for hierarchical DVB-T with HDTV/multichannelSDTV (or combos) + mobile SDTV all rolled into the 6Mhz channel.

CBS, and Fox stay the course with 8VSB, and Dual standard receivers are developed.

Now which broadcasters do you think are going to have the maximum DTV reach, including the urban areas, new services and innovations and which broadcasters are going to struggle to be received? Which services will be watched? And which services will be easily received? Who will harvest the mobile DTV revenues and who will sit on the sidelines?

This will have a very profound bearing on the market caps of the O&O's, the affiliates, the datacasters (iBlast exit stage left from the 8VSB domain), and their attractiveness to advertisers. Wall Street, investors, stockholders, and indeed employees now face a very interesting economic question with the DTV transition. One set of broadcasters could have a glittering future and the other set could be extinguished in a self-selected 'DTV Nuclear Winter'. But which ones?
Dermot Nolan


Subj:  FCC tries to stem area code demand

WASHINGTON (AP) - The explosion of cell phones, pagers and fax machines - along with a monopoly era system for allotting digits – is endangering one of the most basic forms of personal information: the telephone number. Federal regulators Friday tried to fix the problem.  The country could run out of area codes within the next eight to 10
years, requiring callers to punch in more numbers than they do now.  The Federal Communications Commission Friday adopted rules that would allow states to more efficiently allocate and manage phone numbers, such as taking back numbers that carriers are holding but not using.


Subj:  The potential of the Internet as a distribution media
By:  Larry Bloomfield

An article from a recent USA Today article inspires the following story:  Right-minded soothsayers in the broadcast industry are looking well beyond the present-day quagmire of digital convergence in an effort to keep their heads above water irrespective the outcome of the current conflagration.  

Recently I had occasion to visit the Santa Clara Studios of a new financial network at Yahoo’s world headquarters.  The Studios themselves were not particularly impressive, as they look like most any newsrooms Studios at a small markets television station:  the normal three cameras, lights, anchor desk and livelier microphones. The control room had the normal wall panel with its bevy of monitors showing video sources, effects, program, etc.; with TD, audio, Director and AD, followed by a row of production types substituting copy for slugs with their ever present stopwatches.

All the way through to the interface between those Studios and the Internet are typical, everyday, television devices.  The information was fed to the world at three different bit rates to accommodate the dial-up modems, DSL and other Internet terminating devices.  The quality of the video and audio in that studio, up to those encoding devices, is comparable to the everyday; "business says usual,” broadcast television’s.  It was all off the shelf and out of the box broadcast equipment.  It almost felt like I was back doing the 5:00 news at Channel 2 in Los Angeles.

Their pictures, as viewed off the Internet, showed remarkable improvement over most of the streaming video and Webcasting fair that is out there today.  They were however, not of such quality that I would care to have them broadcast over my television station.  The operation words here are, "showed remarkable improvement."  There is little doubt in my mind that this quality of service will continue to improve to the point that it'll rival not only today's analog television, but will surpass its going on to the quality of a most any the digital fair that is being broadcast today.

This evolutionary process will not take place overnight but as you have heard me say before, "the camels nose is in the tent."  It's only a matter of time!

Why bring this up here?  Many television stations today feed their local program material onto the Internet.  Shows like locally produced community interest, public service and newscasts are at the top of this list.  Although I have not heard any reports from local stations that are engaged in this activity, I have no doubt that there are many that get the same kinds of responses that the people at Yahoo told me they get: input and questions from virtually every corner of the world, not just the backyard, hometown or the nation.

If the sole purpose of commercial television is centered around being able to deliver the maximum number of viewers to potential advertisers, then this business of Webcasting television maternal sure does bring a whole new meaning to the concept of audience share.

Although this wolf is not knocking at our front doors as yet, be advised that he is not only in the neighborhood, but also probably somewhere on your block.  There is little question about the quality of audio available on the Internet.  In case you're not familiar, it ranges from below crappy to near CD quality.

For the past eleven years, Laura Ellen Hopper has been playing disk-jockey at KPIG—FM in the tiny central California coastal town of Freedom; taking requests from listener in nearby places such as Santa Cruz and Monterey. Very much like the phenomena experience by Yahoo, Hopper's listener bases has expanded to well beyond that area rich in early California history.  It is not uncommon for her to get requests from Bosnia, Moscow or Paris, for example.

No, the Chief engineer has not found a new way to propagate their FM signals to beyond their community of service, but they have discovered the World Wide Web!  Arbitron just ranked the station in a virtual second-place tie with Webcaster: Christian pirate radio.  Right now they report 81,000 listeners, worldwide, which is doubled the 40,000 listeners who chanced to tune in during any given half-hour on the airwaves locally.  You do the numbers: that's a 200% increase in audience share in the past year over there local listening audience and the numbers appear to be increasing exponentially.

There is absolutely nothing that prevents anyone from putting together their own "radio station" and broadcast it via the World Wide Web.  By the same token, there is nothing preventing anyone from putting together a television facility and doing the same thing.  Just think: radio and television without the benefits of FCC, or any other governmental regulation, anywhere on the plant.  What an interesting concept: true freedom of speech!  Bear in mind however, that freedom without regulation is anarchy.

Of course there are copyright issues, and I'm not suggesting that anyone break the law.  It does appear, however, that a ton of money could be made before any of these issues would be addressed, not to mention the time involved that would take to close down such a facility over any copyright business. 

It wasn't too many years ago that I did all the engineering, filed for the licenses and was granted authorization to operate a 1-kilowatt AM transmitter on 1220 kHz in Canyon Country, California, only they have a greedy business partner hornswoggle me out of the operation, putting it in bankruptcy shortly after it signed on the air.  But that's another story.  Here's an opportunity for anyone, including me, to not only get in on the ground floor of a totally new way of distribution for radio programming, but for television programming as well.  As the quality of service improves in the delivery of the video product, there's no reason why a person couldn't effectively have a full-service television station that would cover the entire world. Wooden Dr. Gene Scott loved that?

It won't be too many years in the future when high definition television programming will be carried via what the Internet and World Wide Web will eventually grow or develop into. Experiments conducted recently with the University of Washington, involving a project known as Internet II, high definition television has utilized protocol somewhere to IP to do exactly that. There is one thing that is a constant, is carved in stone and you can take to the bank and that is: everything must change!  It's the nature of existence.

So, looking back over this past year many traditional broadcasters like the KPIG are going on-line.  There are also other startup video services, like Yahoo, who will fill a need and reap the financial rewards. 

Anyone thinking that Yahoo’s financial News Channel is being presented out of the goodness of their heart has got to be suffering from the "ostrich syndrome."  They are there, like there counterparts, contemporaries and competitors, to make a buck (or two).  And from the comments I got from the Yahoo staff, they're doing better than expected.

According to George Bundy, CEO of BSR media, a consulting firm that advises stations and how to go on-line, there are now over 3500 stations streaming their programming globally, and the numbers are growing by 100 to 120 stations monthly.  I was unable to get any figures on the growth of streaming video or Webcasting.  With 12,000 traditional radio stations here in the United States, it would appear that more than one of them has gotten the word.   Keep in mind there are approximately 1,600 full power television stations also licensed here in the United States, and I have firsthand knowledge of a number of them who repeat their local newscasts over the Internet on a regular bases.

With cable struggling to improve their very crappy service, and direct to home satellite (DTH) services subscription rate still climbing, the Internet might be a comfortable investments in the future.  Don't think for one minute that the merger of AOL and AT&T is a “starry-eyed” excursion down a Primrose Lane.  The conversations in the boardrooms of the cable industry, Internet service providers and the like, are certainly not focused on the color the carpet in the corporate headquarters’ lobby.  They are looking to their future to see how they can continue to pack away those new funny looking greenbacks in their corporate bank accounts.  

To give you an idea where that whole business stuff is going, Motorola, TV Guide, Liberty Digital and cable operators Adelphia and Shaw Communications are investing in ICTV, a company developing technology for enhanced TV services, TV-based Internet browsing, e-mail access and other interactive TV applications. 

Interactive TV providers OpenTV and ACTV, a digital TV programmer, also are making an investment in ICTV. In addition, early ICTV investors Cox Communications and Lauder Partners will increase their stakes. ICTV's interactive TV software runs on cable headend equipment.  Don’t look now, the lines of demarcation are becoming more and more bleared. 

There's no question that they probably know something most of us don't and it wouldn't hurt to get in on the ground floor slowly, while the getting is good and not too costly.  No one in their right mind is suggesting hawking the family fortune to invest in such a project, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to give it some serious consideration. 



.Parting Shots & Food for thought: 
1. Auri Rahimzadeh:  I once played in a band which had the motto "Quando in dubio est, ex scripto canit".  Or, loosely translated, "When in doubt, play what's written"

2. Two rules for consultants:  1) Don't tell everything you know.


From:Des Chaskelson, SCRI International 

* IBC 2000 - online exhibitor listings and press releases:

*  1999 - 2000 US Broadcast / Pro Video Product Reports
Market Size, Brand Shares, Analysis, Forecasts, 23 Product Categories


The Tech-Notes are published by Larry Bloomfield and Jim Mendrala. We can be reached by either e-mail (above) or land lines (408) 778-3412, (661) 294-1049 or fax at (419) 710-1913 or (419) 793-8340. The opinions expressed herein are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of their friends, employers or associates.  If you wish to remove yourself from this list, send an E-mail to:  In the subject area put the word Remove.  Please visit our web page to review our policies and to see any additional information. 




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