Published by: Larry Bloomfield & Jim Mendrala
E-mail = email@example.com or J.Mendrala@ieee.org
October 2, 2000
Tech Note – 065
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Subj: Reader Responses
About Tech Note #64 -- Ten Reasons Why Broadcast Engineers Should Have DTV Receivers
It was brought to our attention that the article “Ten Reasons Why Broadcast Engineers Should Have DTV Receivers” although was received from Stuart Calcote – Electronic Pictures Corporation, as it appeared on TV Broadcast’s web page with no by line, we have since found out that the author is Ed Williams ewilliams@PBS.ORG, Sr. Engineer, DTV Strategic Services Group for the Public Broadcasting Service in Alexandria, VA, an oft time contributor to the Tech-Notes. We wanted to ensure that Williams got the proper credit for this fine peace.
Subj: More Reader Responses
From: Patrick von Sychowski
RE: Mr. Abramson’s response in Tech Note #64
(Ed Note: Patrick von Sychowski is e-cinema
and DTV analyst for Screen Digest and the author of "Electronic Cinema:
the Big Screen Goes Digital")
Mr. Abramson's raises a very valid point with regards
to the implementation of electronic cinema (Hollywood prefers the term
digital cinema). With the launch of the Barco, Christie and DPL projectors
based on the TI 'black chip' (and rival technologies, such as JVC's D-ILA,
Silicon Light Machines GLV and various laser proponents just around the
corner) we now have projectors that can rival 35mm film. As these are likely
to cost around $250,000 initially (compared to $40,000 to $30,000 for a
new 35mm projector), who will pay for these? Not least in a situation where
the people who stand to benefit from the elimination of prints (studios
and distributors) are not the same as those who have to make the investments
Outline below are eight inter-linked scenarios in
brief of who could pay for the rollout of e-cinema.
1 Exhibitors themselves
This is the least likely scenario. Exhibitors have
already overspent severely by over-screening key territories (US, Germany)
and investing large sums in digital audio, stadium seating and state-of-the-art
foyers before e-cinema came along.
Although exhibitors will eventually make money from
new revenue streams made possible by e-cinema (large screen sports, concerts,
games, corporate conferences), these are a long way away. In the meantime,
three US exhibitors have filed for Chapter 11 protection only in the last
2 The Audience Pays
The viewers could be charged an extra $1 for seeing
films digitally. They admittedly already pay more for some digital sound
screenings or state-of-the-art seating. In Belgium, the Texas Instrument's
DLP Cinema site at Kinepolis cinema gets away with charging $1 premium
revenue for e-films. This is, however, most likely to be a one off and
would further by itself not be enough to help pay for the worldwide conversion.
3 Third-party Middle Men
Several new groups have offered to step in and pay
for the conversion in return for a 'per usage' fee. The first wave of these
(CineComm and Real Image Digital) have, however, vanished or been absorbed
into larger entities. Significantly, the second generation ones (Kodak
and Technicolor Digital Cinema) are established film companies with much
to loose from the ultimate success of e-cinema. Their involvement is thus
pre-emptive one from a business standpoint.
Arguable they are better positioned than the first
wave, but they still need to overcome the fear and mistrust of the exhibitors
(who see them as gatekeepers) and studios (who don't like outside involvement).
4 New technology pays
It is possible that the technology providers, such
as Texas Instruments or its projector manufacturers, will create a market
for its own products by subsidizing them for exhibitors. Transport providers
such as telco, cable and satellite operators could also become party to
such a venture since they provide the future 'pipe' to the multiplexes.
5 The Studios pay
"Those who sand to benefit from the introduction
of digital cinema should be the ones to pay," Disney's Phil Barlow said
at the recent IBC one-day e-cinema seminar in Amsterdam. Significantly
he added, "and we will pay," thus becoming the first studio to go on the
record and make this pledge. However, since studios no longer own their
own exhibition circuit (though many share corporate parents in some way),
there is a question in how such a studio-exhibitor relation could avoid
attracting the un-wanted attention of anti-cartel authorities. Disney favors:
6 An Independent Financial Body
This would be set up as an independent legal entity
that would re-allocate and share the costs and benefits of rolling out
e-cinema. The charter of such a body would, however, have to be drafted
extremely carefully to satisfy studios, exhibitors and justice authorities.
It would also be lacking the initial capital, which is where a role is
7 Financial Entities
It has been suggested that a financial institution
such as GE Capital could fund the e-cinema rollout by leasing the equipment
to exhibitors, as they already do for aircrafts. This scenario leads us
back to the Third-Party Middleman, however, and the problems that this
8 The IMAX model
Vertical integration between technology and distribution
and exhibition is something that Canadian IMAX (parent of Digital Projection
and currently up for sale) has pioneered. This could be replicated for
e-cinema, but given the problems that IMAX has at the moment, it is not
a very appealing scenario.
The only thing certain right now is that no solution
will work if it does not have the equal support of studios and exhibitors.
There is a superficial appeal of the Third Party Middleman solution, but
many inherent problems still need to be overcome. As of now e-cinema remains
an old idea (as Mr. Abramson's book testifies) in search of a new business
Patrick von Sychowski
RE: Mr. Abramson’s response in Tech Note #64
(Ed Note: Patrick von Sychowski is e-cinema and DTV analyst for Screen Digest and the author of "Electronic Cinema: the Big Screen Goes Digital")
Mr. Abramson's raises a very valid point with regards to the implementation of electronic cinema (Hollywood prefers the term digital cinema). With the launch of the Barco, Christie and DPL projectors based on the TI 'black chip' (and rival technologies, such as JVC's D-ILA, Silicon Light Machines GLV and various laser proponents just around the corner) we now have projectors that can rival 35mm film. As these are likely to cost around $250,000 initially (compared to $40,000 to $30,000 for a new 35mm projector), who will pay for these? Not least in a situation where the people who stand to benefit from the elimination of prints (studios and distributors) are not the same as those who have to make the investments (exhibitors).
Outline below are eight inter-linked scenarios in brief of who could pay for the rollout of e-cinema.
1 Exhibitors themselves
This is the least likely scenario. Exhibitors have already overspent severely by over-screening key territories (US, Germany) and investing large sums in digital audio, stadium seating and state-of-the-art foyers before e-cinema came along.
Although exhibitors will eventually make money from new revenue streams made possible by e-cinema (large screen sports, concerts, games, corporate conferences), these are a long way away. In the meantime, three US exhibitors have filed for Chapter 11 protection only in the last month.
2 The Audience Pays
The viewers could be charged an extra $1 for seeing films digitally. They admittedly already pay more for some digital sound screenings or state-of-the-art seating. In Belgium, the Texas Instrument's DLP Cinema site at Kinepolis cinema gets away with charging $1 premium revenue for e-films. This is, however, most likely to be a one off and would further by itself not be enough to help pay for the worldwide conversion.
3 Third-party Middle Men
Several new groups have offered to step in and pay for the conversion in return for a 'per usage' fee. The first wave of these (CineComm and Real Image Digital) have, however, vanished or been absorbed into larger entities. Significantly, the second generation ones (Kodak and Technicolor Digital Cinema) are established film companies with much to loose from the ultimate success of e-cinema. Their involvement is thus pre-emptive one from a business standpoint.
Arguable they are better positioned than the first wave, but they still need to overcome the fear and mistrust of the exhibitors (who see them as gatekeepers) and studios (who don't like outside involvement).
4 New technology pays
It is possible that the technology providers, such as Texas Instruments or its projector manufacturers, will create a market for its own products by subsidizing them for exhibitors. Transport providers such as telco, cable and satellite operators could also become party to such a venture since they provide the future 'pipe' to the multiplexes.
5 The Studios pay
"Those who sand to benefit from the introduction of digital cinema should be the ones to pay," Disney's Phil Barlow said at the recent IBC one-day e-cinema seminar in Amsterdam. Significantly he added, "and we will pay," thus becoming the first studio to go on the record and make this pledge. However, since studios no longer own their own exhibition circuit (though many share corporate parents in some way), there is a question in how such a studio-exhibitor relation could avoid attracting the un-wanted attention of anti-cartel authorities. Disney favors:
6 An Independent Financial Body
This would be set up as an independent legal entity that would re-allocate and share the costs and benefits of rolling out e-cinema. The charter of such a body would, however, have to be drafted extremely carefully to satisfy studios, exhibitors and justice authorities. It would also be lacking the initial capital, which is where a role is created for:
7 Financial Entities
It has been suggested that a financial institution such as GE Capital could fund the e-cinema rollout by leasing the equipment to exhibitors, as they already do for aircrafts. This scenario leads us back to the Third-Party Middleman, however, and the problems that this entails.
8 The IMAX model
Vertical integration between technology and distribution and exhibition is something that Canadian IMAX (parent of Digital Projection and currently up for sale) has pioneered. This could be replicated for e-cinema, but given the problems that IMAX has at the moment, it is not a very appealing scenario.
The only thing certain right now is that no solution will work if it does not have the equal support of studios and exhibitors. There is a superficial appeal of the Third Party Middleman solution, but many inherent problems still need to be overcome. As of now e-cinema remains an old idea (as Mr. Abramson's book testifies) in search of a new business model.
Patrick von Sychowski
Subject: Titan AE Projector
Response from: Jim Mendrala
To: C. T. Hart firstname.lastname@example.org
I have spoken with the various parties involved with the Titan AE demo. Texas Instruments (TI) did provided the projector as we all knew but they told me they had no personnel available to install and setup the projector.
Barco, on the other hand, has two prototype digital cinema projectors with the licensed TI "Black Chips" in use in Europe. But they were not available for the Titan AE demo.
End result was that Barco provided the engineering to install and setup the TI Mk V projector in Atlanta for the Titan AE demo.
That's why I stated in the article "Barco/TI".
Subj: They just don’t seem to care
By: Larry Bloomfield
The only way the broadcast industry and set makers are going to get DTV off the ground is to keep it in the forefront of the public eye; you know the converse, “out of sight, out of mind.”
Our web site has a new section: “Status of DTV Stations.” We’ll try to keep that up to date as much as possible. There are links to some of the stations, but for the most part they are meaning less to engineers as they promote and give ballyhoo to the regular fair and little to the engineering efforts that make it all possible.
It would appear that the only network seeming to “care” are the folks at what has been described as the Tiffany Network, CBS. They have an outstanding line up of DTV shows in their prime time schedule. Nearly everything except for their news, news magazines and Walker – Texas Ranger is being offered in HDTV. Picking up part of the tab is Panasonic. One can only guess they’re serious about selling the new digital genera of TV sets.
Knowing that by 2002 every television station will have to be doing their digital thing, what in God’s name is wrong with the rest of the networks? ABC has dumped the Monday Night HD version of their football schedule. Fox is committed to literally nothing, but PBS has come through with a few token, but very excellent projects. The network who rubbed our faces in their peacock feathers every half-hour or so, a few years back only have one token offering, The Tonight Show and that is kept in such raps, only when the 16X9 monitor behind Leno comes up is there any indication that anything is happening. If I were Sony, after literally giving NBC all that gear, I’d be pissed!
It isn’t like the networks and stations have a choice. Everyone’s got to be doing something digital by the end of 2002. NBC has blown an opportunity to advance DTV by doing nothing at the Olympics. If NBC carried the live, uncut, un-doctored Olympics on the DTV versions of its O&Os and made this feed available to DTV affiliates, they would have a "killer app", at least for sports fans, and could have touted it; big time. Some one is asleep at the wheel!
If NBC did that, then all the people who can't afford even $650 for a DTC100 would yell like hell that they're being discriminated against, not to mention the added peanuts it would cost to do the digital production in Sydney of putting together the additional coverage for the feeds from each venue.
No wonder NBC took a back seat for so many years to CBS in the ratings. Sure they have the edge right now, but it would appear, as I’ve said so many times before, if you don’t learn from history, you’ll be condemned to repeat it! CBS has their DTV and HDTV programming well in place. Just as soon as those 16 by 9 sets catch on, and they will, guess who’ll be sucking hind tit once again? And it deserves them right – so there!
Subj: FCC Adjusts Maximum Forfeiture Penalties To Reflect Inflation and other interesting FCC Stuff relating to Digital TV
By Larry Bloomfield
If you screw up, the FCC is going to get you for more bucks. Section 1.80(b) of its Rules has recently been amended to increase the maximum monetary forfeiture penalties available to the Commission. This action adjusts the maximum forfeiture penalties to account for the growth in the Consumer Price Index since 1995, as required by the Debt Collection Improvement Act, 28 U.S.C. Section 2461. Bottom line, keep up the good engineering work and you won’t have to worry about this. It was all done by MO&O, action by: the Commission. (FCC No. 00-347) If you need or want clarification, Contact: Richard Welch (FCC) at (202) 418-7450, TTY: (888) 835-5322.
The FCC has also announced some interesting digital TV items:
FCC Seeks Comments On Digital TV Broadcasters' Obligations To Serve Children:
The FCC asked for comments on the obligation of DTV broadcasters to provide educational and informational programming for children and the requirement that DTV broadcasters limit the amount of advertising in children's programs. by NPRM. Action by: the Commission. Adopted: September 14, 2000. Dkt No.: MM- 00-167. (FCC
No. 00-344) MMB.
Reports From Commercial TV Broadcasters Concerning Children's Educational Programming Extended:
The FCC amended its rules to continue the requirement that commercial TV broadcasters file with the FCC their quarterly Children's TV Programming Reports describing their children's educational and informational programming. by R&O&FNPRM. Action by:
The Commission. Adopted: September 14, 2000. Dkt No.: MM- 00-44. (FCC No.
00-343)MMB. For additional information on these two issues, contact Kim Matthews 202-418-2154.
FCC Proposes Standardized Disclosure Requirements To Better Inform Communities About How Broadcasters Serve The Public Interest: For additional information, contact
Cyndi Thomas 202-418-2130. by NPRM. Action by: the Commission. Adopted:
September 14, 2000. Dkt No.: MM- 00-168. (FCC No. 00-345) MMB.
FCC Adopts Order In Set-Top Box Proceeding; Initiates Review Of 1998 Navigation Devices Rules: For additional information, contact Thomas Horan 202-418-7200. by FNPRM&Dec.Rul.. Action by: the Commission. Adopted: September 14, 2000. Dkt No.: CS- 97-80. (FCC No. 00-341) CSB.
FCC Adopts Rules For Labeling Of DTV Receivers: OPP contact Jonathan Levy, Amy Nathan 202-418-2030, OET contact Alan Stilwell 202-418-2470. by R&O. Action by: the Commission. Adopted: August 14, 2000. Dkt No.: PR- 00-67. (FCC No. 00-342) OPP.
And from the CGC Communicator: LPTV Filing Postponement: The October 1, 2000 initial filing date for LPTV/TV Translator and Class A TV "more inclusive" minor modification applications has been postponed until January 15, 2001:
And the FCC Creates 'MURS' With Five License-Free Channels @ 150 MHz
(From: CGC Communicator)
No license required; no limit (within reason) on types of message traffic. This is the new Multi-Use Radio Service ("MURS") announced by the FCC on July 12. External antennas may be used provided the ERP is capped at two watts. Frequencies are limited to 151.82, 151.88, 151.94, 154.57 and 154.60 MHz. Voice, packet, phone patching, paging, telemetry remote control and even repeaters are okay. Bandwidth limitations apply. (Synopsis of story from Newsline # 1207) Creation of MURS was buried inside a gigantic document and therefore hidden from view. See:
Subj: Just a personal view
From: Mark A. Aitken, Advanced Technology Group
Broadcasters got a time window, and for the most part, rushed to make that happen. Everyone was looking at what it would take to get to the 2006 deadline, and were making the plans to make that happen. There were a lot of things being worked on (technology) to give broadcasters at least the same functionality with DTV for the transition, HDTV, SDTV and multi-program related. I remember the networks saying that they needed to be able to do 'basic' stuff for HDTV pass-through (seamless splicing, 'bugs', 'crawls', etc.)
But broadcasters were not as big a part of the 'system trials' as many think they were, and did not know enough to make it all work. (They were trying to stay alive in a very competitive world going digital, and were looking forward to getting a competitive system.) Someone would be 'dropping off' the new vehicle soon, and they were waiting for its delivery, while they drove around in 'old dependable'.
The new vehicle arrives, 'dropped off' so to speak! So, they did what they should of (or at least what most of us WOULD have) having just received a new 'replacement' car. They 'got their hands on the new system'. They 'jumped in the drivers seat', 'grabbed a hold of the steering wheel', put it into 'drive' and then 'stepped on the gas'.
Sputter, sputter, cough, cough, choke......stall. (Good thing for some, having found that "D" was reverse ;-)
Now let me ask this question...
If you were being given a 'replacement' vehicle, wouldn't your expectation be that it works AT LEAST as well as the one your driving??? Yes, it will have lots of new 'gizmos', and lots of fancy controls, but the first thing you do with it is what you've been doing all along. RIGHT? (I love that VW commercial. The guy has the new car in the driveway, and HE has obviously driven it home. AND NOW he is reading the manual, finding out all of the neat new features. His wife may not LIKE the first one he decides to show her [rolling the windows down from the outside :-) ], but hey, its only one of many new features, some of which she will like...
Sorry for the sidetrack. The point I am making is that if Broadcasters had a system today that worked as expected (as in minimally what it does today), and if consumers had products that offered to support what we have today and will have tomorrow (and is affordable), then we could easily have gotten to that 2006 date.
THAT IS NOT WHAT HAPPENED. The clock ticks....we ALL wait......but some of us ARE trying to make it happen.
Maybe 2010? Depends on the coming days and weeks...
"Problems cannot be solved at the same level that created them."
~~~ Albert Einstein ~~~
Subject: NCTA: Robert Sachs' Statement on FCC's Cable Compatibility Actions
From: Lori Chang LChang@NCTA.com
"The FCC decision concerning digital copy protection correctly creates safeguards for content providers as they roll out digital product over cable. Program creators expect their digital content over cable systems to be protected, or they won't make it available. The FCC's decision will enable cable operators to require inclusion of copy protection technologies in digital TV sets and set-tops sold at retail. Consumers will be the beneficiaries.
On the other hand, we have serious concerns about the FCC's proposed use of the term 'cable ready' as part of digital TV set labels. For a decade, these words have been confusing to consumers when buying analog TV sets. And they won't help consumers hone in on the key distinction in digital TV sets: one-way versus two-way. One-way digital sets will not enable consumers to receive the many interactive services that cable will offer consumers. Two-way digital interactive sets are what many consumers will want to buy.
It's unfortunate that the FCC's labels do not highlight this distinction, because it goes to the heart of the information that consumers need most."
Subject: Broadcast Engineering editorial: DVB-T/COFDM
From: Ralph L. Cerbone email@example.com
(Ed note: It is always interesting to read a different point of view no matter how off base it may be.)
I feel compelled to respond to the untruths, misinformation and outright distortions of facts being spread by a recent the August 2000 Broadcast Engineering editorial by Brad Dick. It is time somebody sets the record straight. I find it difficult to believe that any rational person who has closely followed the DTV standards process in the US could possibly believe some of the assertions. It would take pages to respond fully, so I will respond to just a few of their wild statements so you get the idea. My message is simply....do not believe all that you read until you check it out!
The fact is that all the competing systems were evaluated by the Advisory Committee in an open process and then tested by the ATTC. Performance was close, so it was difficult to select a clear winner. Subsystems (transmission, sound, etc) were separately tested on a head-to-head basis and the winning elements became the Grand Alliance system, which eventually was adopted as the ATSC Standard. With oversight of the open Advisory Committee, the independent ATTC, and the FCC, this process can hardly be called a "backstairs deal".
The facts are that rules were set up front so anyone with a working system was free to compete. No working 6 MHz COFDM system was available at deadline time and COFDM proponents readily admitted none could be ready for test for at least 15 months. At any point in a standards process there comes a time when you must cut off debates about paper designs and test what hardware is available, otherwise you are subjected to a never-ending list of paper proposals with no resolution.
If the US DTV standards process were to be reopened now, it should not be reopened just for COFDM!! Other new proposals should be free to compete. There is no doubt that paper designs would be coming out of the woodwork. That process could take years and no matter when you cut it off, some proponent could claim they got screwed because "the FCC would not wait another year for them to get a working system". If you do not set some deadlines, then when does the selection process ever end??
Is this guy seriously trying to convince you all that the FCC and the Advisory Committee (supported by all facets of the broadcast TV industry) spent more than a decade of hard work overseeing the evolution and test of a DTV standard for the US without ever asking broadcaster's?? Broadcasters were encouraged to participate in the process from the beginning. If you believe him, then I have some swampland in Florida for you to buy! It is true that (given rapid technological developments) some broadcasters now want (or need) more features/options than they envisioned earlier, so the ATSC has stated they are actively addressing such new requirements, along with evolutionary improvements in the technology.
Here is a quote from guy who may write for a living and therefore has a great flair with words. The rest of us techies sit in awe at his command of the English language! If he ever gets tired of berating the ATSC standard, he can surely make a bundle writing paperback novels!
Here are some quotes and responses to the referenced editorial by Brad Dick:
"VSB technology is a Frankenstein, built from the scraps of other failed ideas."
To say that VSB technology is built from scraps of other failed ideas is sheer nonsense! VSB was designed specifically for digital TV broadcast use and was proven against competitors in the in the most extensive and competitive tests ever of a US communications system. QAM and VSB were thoroughly tested in head-to-head competition and the results were very close, with VSB coming out on top. The ATTC (Advanced television Technology Center) independently performed an admirable job of making sure this competitive test process was both fair and accurate.
The fact is that the real purveyors of the "FUD factor" may be those like Dick who are unhappy with the current ATSC system for reasons that may (or may not) have anything to do with technical performance. Rather than working within the process to improve matters, they apparently choose to spread fear by misrepresentation of facts. [There is an old saying "Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness". Dick appears to prefer cursing! On a related subject, I do (incredibly) find myself agreeing with Dick on just one point. That is, the FCC has been too slow to follow-up on the ATSC standard. Their current review of the DTV standard comes a year later than the FCC's own internal target! Equally importantly, they have not yet embraced the PSIP standard. Fortunately, most broadcast engineers are being made aware that the
DTV Standard is designed such that if PSIP is implemented incorrectly (or not at all) there is the real possibility that some viewers’ sets will not tune to their channel! It is incredible that the FCC appears to be dragging their feet on this very important standards issue.
Dick stated: "STB manufacturers have stated COFDM products can be on retail shelves in 12 months.” Even if this is true (which I doubt) how does it help the process to quote that one date?? You throw out the 12-month figure and imply that is all it takes! What about the years it will take to revisit the terrestrial transmission standard and perform competitive testing? What about the time it will take broadcasters to re-engineer and agree upon a new emission map, not to mention the revised infrastructure for 1600 stations? What about the transmitter power problem with COFDM? STBs and TV receivers are certainly important elements, but they are but one piece of a vast technological infrastructure. Let's get real when you quote what could be done and by when!!!
I have chosen to respond to just a few quotes so you get my message.
Subject: The other side to the Broadcast Engineering editorial: DVB-T/COFDM heading for grand slam win
From: Dermot Nolan firstname.lastname@example.org
And here's my take on what we must now call the 8VSB ‘Frankenstein’ in full, which can also be seen in the August issue of Broadcast Engineering. http:/www.broadcastengineering.com
ATSC vs. DVB: Grand slam win for DVB-T/COFDM?
The current US DTV disaster has its roots in a fatally flawed commercial process and the earlier HDTV standards wars between Europe, Japan and the United States in the 1980's. In 1992 Europe's analog HDTV strategy lay ruined with the US having proposed an all-digital HDTV system and Japan's Hivision analog HDTV system heading to commercial disaster. Europe dusted itself down, and the compass was reset for a market-led approach to digital television. DVB (Digital Video Broadcasting) group formed in 1993, initially with European members, later expanded to a global franchise. This sequence of events is critical to understanding the parlous position in which ATSC now finds itself.
A backstairs deal between the main US DTV system proponents led to the ATSC standard. Zenith contributed the 8VSB transmission standard, selected in preference to QAM and a much more primitive version of COFDM than today's DVB-T system. US voices arguing for COFDM commercialization were overruled by a cozy crony capitalism deal between the proponents and the FCC. All concerned in the ATSC assumed, without the benefit of real-world consumer level testing, that 8VSB receivability would be relatively straightforward. This turned out to be a fatally flawed assumption and later proved central in assessing the commercial viability of ATSC. Without easy robust reliable receivability across all classes of antenna system (fixed outdoor, portable indoor and mobile) a DTV system is DOA at the consumer and commercial level. Simple DTV receivability is economically INDISPENSIBLE.
Work began in 1993 on the DVB-T digital terrestrial television system. The Europeans, having tested and discarded single carrier systems were undaunted by the, at the time, perceived complexity in COFDM silicon instantiations. In 1993-1997 the DVB-T standard was defined, developed and implemented. Two years of real-world field-testing took place throughout Europe before finalization in December 1997. Around 2000 man-years were required to commercialize the DVB-T/COFDM system.
There is a major structural difference between DVB-T and ATSC: DVB-T was designed against a set of flexible and extensible broadcaster requirements formulated in 1994 and subsequently extended in a backwards compatible manner. This is hugely ironic given that the ATSC RF Group only began defining broadcaster requirements SEVEN years AFTER the system was chosen. The ATSC Broadcasters Requirements, now circulating in the public domain, are a subset of those used in the implementation of DVB-T six years ago.
ttempts to retrofit commercial requirements against pre-selected technologies usually end in failure rather than beginning with a bottom-up design to meet the requirements. This fundamentally explains why the DVB-T/COFDM system has been an instant commercial success: it meets the requirements for twenty-first century DTV broadcasting including HDTV, reliable indoor reception, hierarchical broadcasting and the sensational service innovation, perfect mobile digital television. Unlike ATSC it is a TURNKEY DTV system with standards fully implemented for conditional access, data broadcasting, interoperability with other digital television platforms, interactive services, and its fully operational DVB-SI system is a superior version of the ATSC PSIP system.
Initial perceptions widely held in 1997-98, that ATSC would dominate globally, were shattered when Australia threw out ATSC in a straight shoot-out with DVB-T. Australia's main reason for the choice was COFDM's famous robust reliable receivability. Three further ATSC defeats followed around the world in straight shoot-outs with COFDM in Brazil, India, and Singapore.
Sinclair Broadcasting Group's US DTV receivability campaign initiated in 1998, initially viewed with irritation by ATSC, exploded in ATSC's face with several very public demonstrations of 8VSB's shortcomings. The sheer firepower of the DVB-T COFDM system was demonstrated in the United States, in 6Mhz channels, on several occasions in the period 1999-2000 with ever more devastating effect. This culminated in the NAB2000 hierarchical indoor HDTV/mobile DTV demonstration by DVB and Sinclair, showing the operational DVB-T system towered over ATSC as a broadcaster and consumer friendly DTV system for this century.
Defection of ABC and NBC from the 8VSB camp in their (in)famous letter to the FCC in which they stated '8VSB does not provide reliable reception for our viewers' was almost the most devastating attack of all. This was topped by the Brazilian ABERT/SET final report on ATSC and COFDM DTV, which observed clinically, ' The ATSC system does not fulfill the technical requirements for the continuity of the television broadcasting service'.
Internationally these developments have shattered the commercial prospects for ATSC/8VSB. Argentina originally an ATSC adopter cancelled the decision in April 2000 and now joins the COFDM camp. Brazil having thrown out 8VSB is now choosing between DVB-T and the upstart prototype ISDB-T system, essentially a Japanese DVB-T copy with some added bells and whistles. In South America there is a DTV certainty: the future is COFDM.
Globally DVB-T now addresses markets of over 50% of all television households worldwide. It enjoys unprecedented economies of scale and scope, fully supports 6/7/8 MHz RF environments, and over 1,000,000 DVB-T/COFDM chips have been shipped compared with perhaps 35,000 8VSB chips. The DVB-T system has critical economic mass and is positioned for a grand slam victory over its rivals.
Pressure for adoption of an Americanized DVB-T system will intensify given the choice is between a pragmatic, practical and proven DVB-T system and the undelivered, unquantified and uncertain future promises of ATSC. Economics and technical superiority dictates that COFDM, exiled for almost three decades, will in all probability return home to its US birthplace to a hero's welcome from broadcasters and consumers. Thereafter I fully expect American entrepreneurial ingenuity will relaunch DTV as a viable commercial, competitive and consumer proposition.
Subject: Single-Chip Solution; 'Set-Top Box-on-a-Chip' -- Fusion of the Internet With TV Content
Edited from: Business Wire News service, Sept. 18, 2000
National Semiconductor Corporation announced the National(R) Geode(TM) SC1200 processor, which is optimized for STB applications. This new "set-top box-on-a-chip" solution provides the highest silicon integration for the interactive STB market, delivering seamless integration of the Internet and digital television.
"The Geode SC1200 processor enables users to harness the power of the Internet right through their TV sets," said David Pederson, business unit director for National's Information Appliance Division. "Our solution transforms TVs into fully featured information appliances that give consumers interactive TV programming, Web-based electronic program guides, instant messaging and chat, Web-browsing and e-mail services."
The Geode SC1200 is the newest addition to National's Geode integrated processors for the information appliance market. Each of these processors incorporates specific functionality that meets the technical requirements of National's three primary markets -- the set-top box, personal access device and thin client market. All members of the Geode family provide the lowest power consumption available, optimal performance, and x86 multimedia architecture. These x86-based products are ideal for Internet access because most of the search engines, plug-ins and applets on the Internet are based on the x86 architecture without the cost and complexity of a PC. Together, these features help National's customers lower overall system costs and speed time to market.
The interactive set-top box is one of the newest appliances for interactive home entertainment and taps into a fast-growing market. National predicts the manufacturing of set-top boxes will continue to grow by more than 20 percent per year for the next three years 2001-2003), resulting in about 120 million new set-top boxes.
"The Geode processor is best suited to power digital set-tops for the foreseeable future," said Richard Doherty, director of The Envisioneering Group. "National's multi-decade experience with audio and video delivery ensures both rapid time to market and future-proof product life, even as consumer and services providers extend to new media formats."
About the Geode SC1200 Processor
Manufactured on the advanced 0.18-micron process technology, the Geode SC1200 processor offers the industry's most highly integrated, cost effective x86 solution for next generation interactive set-top box designs. Its very low power characteristics make it an ideal choice for fanless set-top boxes, allowing equipment manufacturers to avoid noise and reliability concerns with consumer electronic product designs. The power dissipation of the chip is less than two watts under typical operating conditions.
The SC1200 is based around a Geode GX1 32-bit, x86-compatible processor module, and includes a TV processor with four 10-bit video DACs, CCIR656 video input port, IDE bus, three USB ports and a periphery of UARTs and general purpose I/O's. The SC1200 combines advanced CPU performance with MMX(TM) support, fully accelerated 2D graphics, a 64-bit synchronous DRAM (SDRAM) interface, and an internal PCI bus controller.
For additional information, contact: National Semiconductor’s Trish Gessner, email@example.com
Subject: FCC To Require Anti-Piracy Features In Digital TVS, VCRS
From: Los Angeles Times, September 15 2000
The FCC announced a controversial new rule that requires next generation VCRs, TVs, and set-top boxes to include technology that prevents consumers from pirating digital cable TV programs. In addition, the FCC approved three types of cable-ready digital TV sets that will not be required to receive all over-the-air digital signals. The FCC says the new rules will clarify equipment standards and make digital set-top boxes more readily available from consumer electronics retailers. Hollywood and cable operators support the FCC's decision, which they believe will make more digital TV programming available as
piracy concerns decrease. However, electronics makers fear that the decision could delay the rollout of digital TV equipment for six to nine months, causing consumer disillusionment in digital TV. Electronics makers say they might try to block the FCC rules through litigation, while consumer groups are voicing their own concerns about the FCC's decision.
Two Openings: Video Engineer & Network Master Control Operators
Comedy World, Inc. has an opening for a VIDEO ENGINEER. Successful candidate should have experience with Windows NT, Mac OS, digital audio, video equipment and general electronics. SBE Certification preferred.
Also: Comedy World, Inc. has immediate openings for NETWORK MASTER CONTROL OPERATORS. Responsibilities include monitoring of Internet servers & satellite signals, and some audio or video production or technical maintenance. SBE certification is a plus! Send resume and information to:
Barry Thomas, CSRE, Director of Engineering
Comedy World, Inc., 5333 McConnell Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066
(310) 255-6500 phone; (310) 301-6485 fax; firstname.lastname@example.org
(Ed Note: The following are current job openings either at or through Harris Automation (formerly Louth Automation) in Sunnyvale, CA
Director of Engineering: Manage and direct the engineering organization towards its primary technological objectives based on long-term product and profitability goals. Oversee the development of new products from conception through debug. BSEE/ME/CS required; MSCE or related MS desirable, plus 1 0+ years related experience. Knowledge of software development and design processes in the area of machine control, and real-time embedded systems; knowledge of high-level object oriented programming methods. Significant previous experience managing software engineers and project leads, preferably at Director level.
Director of Product Marketing: Responsible for taking a strategic role in the modeling of new technologies into product and driving the direction of new product development from inception to market. The position is key in the creative approach to attaining a market edge from new and existing Harris Automation products by directing the development of, participating in, reviewing, approving, and ensuring implementation of short and long range new product development, marketing plans, and strategies. Masters degree (M.A.) required; 5-1 0 years relevant experience.
Product Manager: Plan, organize and control an assigned product line from conceptual stages through product life cycles to optimize profit and meet marketing, financial, and corporate growth objectives. Manage for assigned product(s) overall product strategy, specification development, product planning, advertising and promotion, business and budgetary planning, pricing and product lifecycle planning. Knowledge of broadcast hardware, production techniques and broadcast technical theory is required. BS degree and minimum of 5+ years broadcast industry experience required; 2 years experience in broadcast automation and product marketing experience preferred.
Systems Project Lead: Develops comprehensive hardware design analysis and specifications. Oversees engineering life cycle of hardware products including architecture, design and implementation. Confers with product marketing on writing of functional design specifications. Designs product solutions and features using a hardware description language. Manages outside engineering and manufacturing consultants against project schedules. Manages all aspects of hardware documentation including schematic entry. Writes hardware specifications and qualifies products. Strong computer networking knowledge a plus. BSEE required; MCSE preferred; 5+, years relevant experience required.
Senior Software Engineer: Develop, maintain, and document our Windows N-based distributed automation system. BSCS/EE required, 5-8 years relevant work experience. Structured programming experience required, preferably in an Object Oriented environment. Good communication skills and strong problem solving skills a must. Experience with device interface, protocol development, serial/LAN communications, and NT internals/systems programming desirable. Network positions require knowledge of TCP/IP, Unix, Solaris and WAN.
Senior SOA Engineer: Evaluate, develop, lead and test software programs to verify functionality according to specifications and standards. Establish benchmarks for program efficiency in operating and response times; create test plans; create and execute manual and automated test scripts using testing software programs. BS required plus 5-8 years of related experience and training. Minimum 2 years Windows based testing experience. Microsoft Access required. Working knowledge of Windows 95, NT 4.0 (Workstation and Server). Windows 3.x and DOS 6.xx. Knowledge of networking protocols LANtastic, NetBIOS, NetBEUI and TCP/IP. Some travel will be required. Broadcast equipment knowledge desirable.
Customer Support Trainer: Perform product training at customer sites throughout North America with occasional international travel required. Customer training on all Harris products in a television station master control room. BS degree, experience using Harris Automation system Master Control environment desirable, general broadcast experience including use of VTR machines, master control switchers and video file servers. Understanding of Windows 95 or NT operating systems, excellent communication skills including prior public or group speaking experience.
Customer Support Engineer (Eastern U.S.): Responsible for the complete installation of customer automation solution and assisting in the resolution of customer technical problems. Plan, organize and implement all steps necessary to successfully install Harris Automation systems within a broadcast facility. Position involves frequent and extensive travel. BS required; Microsoft MSCE desirable. Competency and/or knowledge in Harris Automation products desirable. Broadcast engineering background preferred; computer experience with NT, networking and network protocols.
Technical Support Representative: Broadcast professional with 2-5 years broadcast television operations experience, will be responsible for timely and appropriate resolutions to customer issues. Degree preferred. Excellent verbal and written communications skills. Must have ability to analyze and interpret common scientific and technical issues.
Technical Writer: Develop, write and edit technical documentation. BS preferred, 2-5 years technical writing experience writing user manuals and reference guides for software/hardware applications. Must be willing to learn to install, configure and use Harris products. Must have extensive knowledge of document creation and document publishing software systems - FrameMaker, Acrobat, Photoshop and Illustrator.
Buyer/Planner: Responsible for obtaining materials, components and equipment; gather quotes, examine bids, and make awards. Plan, schedule and monitor the movement of materials through the production cycle. Evaluate vendor reliability; develop new supply sources where vendors and suppliers are inadequate. Monitor cost schedule and scope of assigned subcontracts to assure best quality at best value. Develop specifications for new contract orders. Work closely with Product Marketing on new product introductions. BS preferred, 5+ years relevant experience, excellent writing and oral communication skills.
Note: Interested parties please contact: email@example.com.
From: Clay Freinwald firstname.lastname@example.org
For a number of years you all have read my comments about EAS. I wanted to let you all know that I will be taking my EAS program on the road.
I'll be doing an EAS presentation at the SBE Show in Pittsburgh on Oct. 4th and the week after at the Arizona Broadcasters/SBE meeting in Phoenix on the 12th.
I'll be covering a LOT of topics and can just about guarantee that some new ground will be covered...If you are interested in perhaps some new ideas on how to make EAS really function....please do come.
Clay Freinwald, Chairman, Washington State SECC & SBE EAS Committee
Parting shots: By: Larry Bloomfield
Since the posting of Tech-Notes No. 64, a problem has arisen regarding an article I wrote entitled: "Possible Trouble In Tinsel Town." The article has subsequently been removed from our website.
In the article I said that I was privy to a conversation with an individual who identified himself as an employee of Laser Pacific. I have since found out that the information I received was strikingly similar to an anonymous posting on an industry related website and have subsequently discovered that my source was not, in fact, an employee of Laser Pacific.
The story also implied that I had spoken to Paramount's Director of Technology, when in fact his quote was also obtained from the same source. I was negligent in not ascertaining the veracity of the information.
To Laser Pacific, the Director of Photography of Diagnosis Murder, and to Viacom Productions: It has never been my intent or position to bring any harm to any individual or company. If the publication of this story has done so, I offer my sincerest apologies. It was never my intent to discredit the integrity or quality of anyone’s work, person, work ethic or product.
Be assured that in the future I will be much more vigilant in checking the authenticity and credibility of the information I present and pass on to the readers of Tech-Notes.
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: email@example.com. In the subject area put the word Remove.
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