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July 10, 2000
Tech Note - 059
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From: John Luff firstname.lastname@example.org
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 –
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.
From: Pete Lude' VP, Broadcast Engineering,
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
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.
Subject: Antennas for DTV
From: Pete Putman email@example.com
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
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
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.
Subject: The looming economic
From: Dermot Nolan firstname.lastname@example.org
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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