Tech-Notes
http://www.Tech-Notes.tv
July 9, 2001
Tech Note 084
Sponsored by: Bloomfield & Associates
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Our purpose, mission statement, this current edition, archived editions and other relative information is posted on our website. We've had over 9500 different visitors since we started the web site on July 1st, 2000 and we've growing: over 1130 subscribers since May 18, 1997.

Thanks to our regulars and welcome to the new folks.
This is YOUR forum!

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~~ Reader Responses, Inquiries & Comments ~~

RE: Special 4th of July edition
From: Phil Livingston   Philip.Livingston@azcar.com

As a direct descendent and namesake of Philip "The Signer" (as my family referred to him), thank you for your 4th of July posting.  All of us find it too easy to forget these things in the press of life and business.  Thanks for the well crafted reminder.

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RE: Special 4th of July edition
From: Bob Rink   firstname.lastname@hsc.com

An excellent special edition.  Thank You.

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RE: Special 4th of July edition
From: Allan Soifer   allan.soifer@sympatico.ca 

As one of the few Canadians on this listserv, I feel I must say something here. Although born and raised in Montreal Canada, I had the wonderful and blessed opportunity to work, live,  and do military service in the USA.  I was welcomed instantly by all who I encountered,  and given a place  and a nation-home, since mine was far away by choice.

Whatever foibles her politicians, whatever errors made in governance, I take my hat off and reverently place a hand over my heart, whenever the Stars and Stripes are raised, and 'Rocket's Red Glare' is heard (I know the words).  Congrats from the frozen north Dominion of sea unto sea (our motto) to our neighbour south of the border.  Long may you all prosper under Lady Liberty's outreached arm.

Enjoy your holiday!
("practice random acts of kindness, and  senseless acts of beauty")

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RE: Special 4th of July edition
From: Dave Robertson, Project Manager, Sonic Foundry

I appreciate the sentiment but not all the information in the article is accurate. None other than Ann Landers printed essentially the same thing and printed a correction. I found it at: http://www.arizonarepublic.com/smartliving/articles/0704landers0704.html

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RE: Special 4th of July edition
From: David M.   davidmin@pacbell.net

Not trying to rain on your parade but I believe in truth, not propaganda. These types of legends are like those made up in a totalitarian country. I suggest you read Zinn's "People's History of the US" to see who really sacrificed and made this nation great (yes, people like you, not the privileged like those who signed the Declaration). I'm saying nothing bad about the signers, though, I admire them, but let's get real here, were not talking about fairy tales, we're talking about our government.

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RE: Special 4th of July edition
From: Craig Birkmaier   craig@pcube.com

Thanks for the tasteful way that you approached posting Tech Notes to OpenDTV. I guess I would have preferred if you had asked, but you did exactly what I would have asked you to do in terms of stripping out the commercials.

Thanks for these insights into the sacrifices that were endured by ALL of those who fought for our Nation's independence.

Those sacrifices have been repeated time and again to preserve our freedoms and the underlying concepts upon which they are built. Self determination - Personal Responsibility - The opportunity to improve one's lot in life.

Rather than dwelling on the risks and sacrifices of those who made it possible for us to enjoy these freedoms, perhaps we should spend this day contemplating what has become of them, at the hands of the politicians and mass media who now represent "the new aristocracy."

Perhaps we should question the motives of those who seek the privileges of power; those who believe that government knows more than the governed what is in their best interest; those who believe that personal responsibility and personal success are a threat to our future.

Risk and sacrifice lie at the very heart of what has made the U.S. the most desired place to live in the world.

Somehow, I cannot envision that our forefathers would have supported a government that acts every day to minimize risk and eliminate sacrifice for the masses, by placing ever increasing burdens on those who aspire to the American dream.

They would have, in fact they did, risk and sacrifice their fates and fortunes to purchase our freedoms...

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Subject: Reflections on NAB2001
By: Larry Bloomfield

For those who made the annual trek to Las Vegas and NAB2001, the feet have finally stopped hurting and the guilt feelings of not having visited more booths of those you feel could increase your knowledge base, especially in then area dealing with the transition to digital, have ebbed. For the exhibitors, the question of: "Was it worth the investment?" still rings in the back of their mind and for good cause.

According to NAB officials, attendance was down by about 10%. There are those who would attribute this to the recent estrangement of CBS/Infinity and the continued boycott by NBC and Fox. If, however, you played the "look at each other's badge" game, there were a significant number of CBS badges on display, not to mention recognizing a number in the ranks of high-priced help category from both NBC and Fox. The decline in attendance, however, could not be attributed to a lack of foreign visitors either, who were there in droves.

Commenting on ABC being the only remaining major network, Eddy Fritz, president and CEO of NAB said in his keynote address at NAB2001, said: "I publicly want to thank ABC for remaining with us," in spite of their "disagreement on the issue of the 35% ownership cap."

The current ownership cap, simply put, say that one entity or corporation cannot own television stations whose coverage reaches a total of more than 35% of the American viewing audience. There are no restrictions on how this percentage is achieved, be it through a few or boocoo stations. 

This is an important factor to many organizations that have recently acquired new broadcast properties. Interwoven with this is the long-standing issue of cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast outlets in the same city. Both News Corp. (FOX) and the Tribune Company have a vested interest in this issue having made purchase that give them newspapers and TV stations in the same market. 

News Corp.'s attempt to buy Chris-Craft's 10 TV stations would give it two TV stations and the New York Post in the nation's largest media market. Tribune's buyout of LA's Times Mirror and a previous merger that gave it a television station and a newspaper in four markets: Hartford, Conn., New York, Los Angeles and south Florida.

It is difficult to predict what the FCC's political dichotomy may come up with. Democratic commissioner Gloria Tristani, the most liberal member of the FCC, and conservative GOP commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth both objected to proceeding with a vote, but for totally different reasons. According to one high-ranking FCC source: "Tristani is saying she won't vote for anything that even considers easing the rule, and Furchtgott-Roth is saying he won't vote for anything that even contemplates keeping the rule." Despite all the internal FCC wrangling and discord, the commission's vote will ultimately boil down to either eliminating the rule or leaving it intact.

NAB2001 also had its share of Panels, Papers and Political Positioning. One thing even CBS, NBC and Fox agree with is NAB's position on dual analog/digital carriage by cable during the DTV transition simulcast period. In a joint press release, NAB, Maximum Service Television (MSTV) and the Association of Local Television Stations (ALTV) once again pointed out the absurdity of the DTV transition, calling for the FCC to reconsider its January ruling on the issue. NAB's Edward Fritt's described the FCC's January decision as "a tremendous obstacle in the consumer's path to digital broadcasting." 

It seems difficult, at times, to reconcile the reasoning behind the transition to digital. Pressure is mounting. While broadcasters are supposed to complete the switch to digital by 2006 or when digital TV reaches 85% of the market, whichever comes later, Congress wants to get to the business of auctioning the analog frequencies in 2002 to help pay for all of its spending sprees and keep the country financially afloat.

John Sprung, one of Paramount Pictures' television engineering managers has compared the current "mess," the transition to digital television broadcasting, with the fate of Wiley E. Coyote, having run off a cliff, hanging in space, in suspended reality, just before the big fall. Sprung made his observation in February. As hard as it may be to believe, things have changed dramatically in the interim. The bottom has fallen out of legacy broadcast business models worldwide. It matters not whether we are talking about ATSC or DVB-T, 8VSB, E-VSB, COFDM or ISDB-T. The irony is that it has nothing to do with technology. 

According to a plethora of surveys, our society is "on the move" and people will no longer tolerate being told when or where they can immerse themselves in their ration of television entertainment. Very apparent at NAB2001 was that the fundamentals of the broadcast business are finally giving way to a new reality:  TV Anywhere -- Anytime -- What You Want Is What You See. Any business model based on trying to force people to sit down at a specific time to watch a program is withering. The NAB keynote address given by Eddie Fritts seems to imply that they too have had an epiphany, having finally discovered that these factors will play a major roll in the future of television - digital, mobile, interactive or whatever. Perhaps digital television can possibly bail the broadcaster out and give the public what they appear to want at the same time...  And there is always net year - NAB2002 and the rapidly approaching 2002 deadline.

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Subject: 2001 - 2006 DTV Migration Trends & Product Reports
By: Des Chaskelson, SCRI International (www.scri.com)

SCRI has just published the third in the DTV Migration Report Series -- this one, the 2001-2006 DTV Migration Trends Report Among Production & Post Facilities. The other two are DTV Migration Trends and Product Reports Among US TV Stations. The reports are based on extensive interviews with broadcast and production/post facilities and tracks DTV Migration usage and plans. Discounts are available for Tech Note subscribers and multiple report purchases. For table of contents and pricing, go to: http://www.scri.comc/sc reprt.html. Contact des_chas@scri.com for more information.

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Subject: Ace result for interactive TV
From: Financial Times, London Ed

The BBC yesterday hailed a breakthrough for digital television when  it revealed that about 1m people used its interactive coverage of the  Wimbledon tennis championship on the first day.  The event is believed to have attracted the largest number of users  to an interactive television service, easing fears that Tony Blair's  drive to keep Britain at the forefront of digital technologies was  stalling.

A quarter of all people who watched Wimbledon on British Sky  Broadcasting's Sky Digital service on Monday used the BBC's  interactive features, which allow viewers to choose which match to  watch. Andrew Ward

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Subject: Low cost HDTV
By: Larry Bloomfield

Despite the somewhat muffled hoopla about second and third generation chips from NxtWave, Motorola and other companies such as TeraLogic, the acceptance of computer plug-in accessory boards for digital television and HDTV has not gained much in the way of popularity or acceptance.

In an effort to uncover what it might take to kick-start consumers into the wonderful world of digital television, a random survey across the country of about 100 non-technical television viewers proved to be revealing in its findings. Most want digital television and would even pay slightly more for high definition, but few were willing to pay much over $2000 to replace their favorite viewing device, no matter what it had to offer. Keep in mind; these folks have never been exposed to digital television, much less high definition or any other enhancements; interactive or other devices now being touted.

Many of these folks have computers and when it was mentioned that if they live in an area where there is over the air digital television service, they could put a board costing about $500 in their computer and it would permit them to see the new services.  They nearly to the number, they all drew the line, saying: "My computer is my computer and my TV set is my TV set."

In addition to this, one can argue that high definition television is wasted on a computer screen. There is no way even with the largest computer screens, much less the typical 14-18 inch display devices, that the over 2 million pixels contained in a 1920 by 1080 picture can be reproduced. To see anything in the way of a remarkable difference in an HDTV picture, nothing less than a 27 inch screen should be used as the display device of choice. Do the math! A 15-inch screen would have about 182 inches of display area. Most television sets and computer screens display about 80 pixels per square inch. A 15-inch screen is only able to display around 14,560 pixels; a far cry from 2 million.

Despite all this, the lure of HDTV and other enhancements continues to draw a few to these kinds of computer, after market boards. One such card, offered by accessDTV will permit a user to record HDTV programs on their computer hard drive, assuming it has sufficient capacity. The accessDTV board also permits the user to pause live HDTV, just like a TIVO unit. One user reports that he took off the small antenna that came with the unit and hooked up the RF output of his Dish network satellite to the card and tuned to channel 3 and was able to record HDTV movie from satellite.

The purpose of addressing this is that this appears to be one more device that may well find its way into television stations in the not too distant future. It also generates the burning question: Why can't manufacturers of larger screen device put the electronics of a computer with one of these miracle HDTV boards driving it, inside it? Logic says that this could be done for somewhere in the neighborhood of $2000 to the consumer. Isn't this what broadcasters want; DTV viewers?

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Subject: Digital Cinema in Kodak picture
By Sheigh Crabtree

Kodak is positioning itself for the digital exhibition market with a new projection and theater management system it hopes to have installed on six public screens by early next year.

"We want to be in the networked cinema business," said Robert Mayson, general manager of cinema operations for the Entertainment Imaging division of Eastman Kodak. "We see a role to play, and we want to step up now." 

Kodak's new Digital Cinema system combines a proprietary projector and operating system that includes server, storage and networking capabilities. The software application runs on a Sun Microsystems platform. Essentially a scheduling and asset-management system for theater owners, the operating system provides a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface that allows the loading, programming and playback of features, trailers and other preshow content across multiple digital screens.

"This is the first complete digital theater system developed specifically with exhibitors in mind," Kodak Digital Cinema program manager Glenn Kennel said. (Competing team Qualcomm and Technicolor are developing their own "theater management systems" but have been using the pre-existing QuVis QuBit video server for their demos.)

Kodak's projector uses JVC's 2,048-by-1,536-pixel D-ILA chip. Now in prototype, the JVC chip -- which is expected to become commercially available this year -- offers nearly twice the resolution of the competition's DLP chip from Texas Instruments, which offers picture resolution at 1,280 by 1,024. 

The projection system also incorporates Kodak's Color Management System, designed to keep color consistent from screen to screen and format to format.

Kodak has quietly begun showcasing the system for a select few industry members at the company's new Imaging Technology Center, a development and demonstration center at Kodak's Hollywood campus that includes a small theater with side-by-side film and digital projection capability.

The move comes as something of an about-face for Kodak. "We were very vocal about pointing out the shortcomings of the technology and business issues," Kennel said. "The difference is, we believe the technology is maturing to the point where we can put digital pictures onscreen that are better than today's release prints." 

As for the business model, Mayson said the company is exploring a range of scenarios, one of which is to lease the systems.

Mayson thinks studios should share the cost of conversion with exhibitors. "If you look at the film world, the people who pay now are the ones who also benefit," Mayson said, referring to the estimated $800 million per year that studios spend on releasing and shipping film prints around the world. 

Kodak will publicly show its Digital Cinema system on a 60-foot screen at USC's Digital Cinema Lab in Hollywood by late November or December

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Subject: WRAL-DT live at NAB2001
By Larry Bloomfield

For those who've not been to the neon oasis near the southern tip of Nevada, better know as Las Vegas, it is difficult to describe the magnanimity of nearly everything. The massive floor space involved in putting on the NAB extravaganza is quite typical of most everything - it's big! The size of the exhibit halls at the Las Vegas (LVCC) and Sands Convention Centers are some of the biggest in the world. In addition to that, some of the meeting rooms are venues where, arguably, one could easily get lost. 

To the north of the LVCC, separated by an alley that would rival the width of many a freeway, is situated the Las Vegas Hilton where a number of NAB related meetings and banquets are held. These meeting rooms can hold and serve several thousand-dinner guests with little or no effort.

Hearing that WRAL-DT would be covering the major meetings at NAB2001, good old broadcast engineering curiosity demanded the unit be paid a visit and it wasn't difficult to locate the Conrad Room, in the Las Vegas Hilton: the room took up the better part of the South west corner of the hotel complex.

It is not uncommon to visit a sports venue, like Fenway Park or Oakland Stadium, and see a large television remote truck very recognizably parked in some obscure part of the sports complex, with copper and fiber tentacles protruding from its inners in an effort to bring television viewers their ration of whatever sport is being played. This is what we expected to see and did.  But, the 53-foot, WRAL High Definition Production Mobile Unit was dwarfed by the size of the Conrad Room within which it was parked.

Capitol Broadcasting's VP of special projects, John L. Greene said: "We built a truck that would do nearly anything while keeping the cost down, demonstrating that any local station could afford to use it." Continuing, Greene added: "We believe in HDTV, as you know, but we wanted to give every digital station that signs on the ability to do a local promotion in HD, using that truck; so we built it for that purpose."

Capitol's WRAL-DT mobile unit has all the equipment to fully produce, edit and simulcast in HD, Digital 601 or analog NTSC. The truck travels with four Sony HDC-700 studio cameras and four Sony HDC-750 portable cameras, for a total of eight, but is pre-wired for 12 cameras. The tape compliment consists of six Sony HDW-500 HD-CAM format recorders, but is pre-wired for ten. Greene says that the additional cameras and recorders may be rented as needed. 

The WRAL-DT mobile unit is one of only five HDTV mobiles in the United States currently available for rent and, in contrast with the other HD trucks; all picture monitoring is in full 16X9 - 1080i HD quality. Greene says: "This provides the best environment for producers to evaluate actual HD images for framing and composition, and the CRT monitors provide proper colorimetry."

Like most other "remote trucks," the WRAL-DT unit has a full compliment of graphics and other devices needed to enhance most all productions. The audio is capable of outputting a full 5.1 channels of surround sound.

Since its inception in early 2000, the mobile unit has been used to produce the CBS 2000 Final Four basketball tournament, an AFC football game, hockey matches and other sporting events, over six concerts, and a number of parades. 

WRAL says they are "the first station in the country to broadcast in the FCC's new digital television standard. We were granted the nation's first high definition television experimental license in 1996, which allowed the station to transmit the nation's first high definition television signal." WRAL-DT continues to broadcast HD on a daily basis and offers the world's first all-HDTV newscast.

Greene concluded by saying: "High Definition Television is the future of broadcast television and we think it is important to let broadcasters see what can be done with the technology."

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Subject: Moving to D-Cinema
By: Craig Birkmaier

An associate: "Whatever the difficulties of introducing HD as a services, it looks as if the whole of US TV production may migrate to HD according to one of the trades. There is a tipping effect in favour of HD, away from 35mm."

Yup. But that does not mean that consumers will get the full benefit. The benefit tipping in favor of 24P versus 35mm is three fold: 

1. It will reduce costs considerably once the production infrastructure is in place to support it.

2. It allows for the creation of a single high quality master from which versions can be derived easily for distribution via any analog or digital broadcast system.

3. It preserves the archival value of the content in anticipation of a future in which some kind of higher image quality will be commonplace - but it does not pre-suppose what that higher level of quality will be.

Regards - Craig Birkmaier, Pcube Labs

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Subject: Interactive TV brings concerns
(An alternative point of view)

Interactive television represents a much more serious threat to U.S. citizens' privacy than the Internet, according to officials at the Center for Digital Democracy. More than 61 million people will use interactive TV by the end of 2006, according to Carmel Group, a market research company. The Association for Interactive Media, which has ties to the Direct Marketing Association, has been lobbying Congress to refrain from passing opt-in privacy laws that would apply to the interactive TV industry, hoping that industry self-regulation can succeed. Center for Digital Democracy executive director Jeff Chester called the interactive TV industry's privacy practices "unconscionable," blasting industry players such as ACTV, Microsoft, and AT&T for selling any data they can get their hands on. 

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Subject: Few homes go digital - Another point of view.
From: Fred Lawrence

(Ed Note: We welcome Fred to our staff. He will be contributing different points of view as he sees them on different reflectors and on the internet. He can be reached through the Tech-Notes webmaster on our web site.)

This whole worldwide switch to Digital Television is being made on such tight timetables to free up new spectrum for other uses. Period! In almost every case the switch is being done in a way that protects the interests of incumbent broadcasters or other vested interests:

In the U.S. the strategy was to prevent the spectrum from being re-allocated for other applications and to protect the legacy NTSC franchise.

- In Europe the strategy has been to protect the legacy broadcast franchises and domestic CE industry by adopting policies and standards that further entrench legacy interlaced television services, while preventing spectrum from being allocated to new competitors (On Digital being a slight deviation, but still controlled by incumbent broadcast interests).

- In Australia the strategy has been to protect the multi-channel distributors from competition from broadcasters.

IN NO CASE TO DATE, has the strategy been to develop a viable new service in the spectrum that raises the interests of the public above those of the incumbents. There are a few interesting attempts in Honk Kong and other areas of SE Asia, and Germany is flirting with something that might break through the noise level.

YES, governments are drooling over the possibility of raising money from the spectrum. This is both good and bad. Good, if the net result is that spectrum is allocated to applications that use it for applications that provide greater benefits to the public than current applications. Clearly very little benefit is being derived from the allocation of spectrum to advertiser supported television broadcasts; in fact, I can make a compelling case for the massive cultural harm that has been facilitated by the partnership between governments and mass media. What is clear is that consumers are willing to pay for their entertainment content.

The negative side of the desire of the politicians to raise money from the spectrum is three-fold:

1. It is an indirect form of taxation - the costs of services delivered via this spectrum must include the huge spectrum fees being handed over to the politicians;
2. The politicians will most likely not spend the money responsibly;
3. Auctions do not allocate spectrum to the most important economic applications - they allocate spectrum to the entrenched interests that are able and willing to play the political game of collecting money for the politicians.

HDTV or multicasting or datacasting is a BYPRODUCT of the switch to digital, not, I repeat NOT, the driving force behind the switch!

Perhaps. But I think you are giving too much credit to the politicians. The U.S. process began long before the politicians knew that they would be able to recover ANY spectrum.

But not for plain OTA TV. People EXPECT to be able to watch the news, or whatever, on the portable TV on the kitchen table, even with a crappy picture. These little (say 17" in the digital age) TVs would be overwhelmed by a STB. You would need a diffewrent STB for every TV in the household.

The only REAL answe is exactly what the UK people did when going from 405 to 625 lines ... don't tunn the old service off until the new one is dominant.

Another 30 year transition?

There is no need for an elongated transition. To be fair we have been in transition for the past two decades, as multi-channel services have grown to dominate the delivery of television content.

The right thing to do is to reallocate the spectrum properly: ASAP. We can do this in a way that will not be disruptive to the few who still depend on FTA TV. Change your 8VSB to DVB-T and I'm all for it! But why exempt sets smaller than 12 inches, since these are the very sets that are most likely to need OTA reception in order to be useful? Oh yeah, 8VSB doesn't work very well in portable and mobile use.

If only it were that simple. Changing the modulation system only scratches the surface. The entire business model must be rethought!

Before mandating any tuners in all TV sets, we had better wait for the ATSC's recommendations in 'enhancing' the current A/53.

The sooner we abandon this lunacy the better. It's time to concede failure and move on.

We need to put the interests of the consumers first and then let the incumbents figure out if they can play a role in building the new infrastructure for digital communications. Isn't that what Gen. Sarnoff did and look what it did for RCA/NBC.

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Subject: Satellite Files Must-Carry Appeal
From: Several sources

The Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association, DirecTV and EchoStar filed an appeal that will move their constitutional challenge of must carry provisions contained in the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. 

In a related development, the 4th Circuit Court granted the SBCA's motion for an expedited hearing on its appeal of the Federal Communications Commission's report and order on the implementation of satellite must-carry rules. The week of Sept. 24 has been tentatively set as the date to begin oral arguments in this case. The appeal of the FCC order raises many of the same constitutional arguments that are the basis of the district court appeal, the SBCA said.

"The SBCA, DirecTV and EchoStar are committed to fighting satellite must-carry all the way to a successful conclusion," said SBCA President Chuck Hewitt. "Furthermore, we were extremely pleased to receive word late Friday that the 4th Circuit has granted our motion for an expedited oral argument in our challenge of the FCC's rulemaking on implementing satellite must-carry rules. This important decision means that the court should be able to issue a ruling before the Jan. 1, 2002, deadline for implementation of the satellite must carry rules. 

"We remain firmly confident that we will ultimately win this case on the merits of our constitutional arguments," Hewitt said. "The satellite must-carry fight has just begun."

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Subject: FCC Teeing Up Cable-Ownership Rules
By Ted Hearn, Multichannel News

The Federal Communications Commission is likely to tee up for its July 12 meeting a proceeding designed to revive cable-system-ownership rules that were struck down in federal court in March, according to agency sources. 

The commission's rules said a cable operator could not serve more than 30 percent of the nation's 85 million multichannel pay TV subscribers, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled March 2 that the limitation violated the First Amendment.

The court also struck down as a First Amendment violation an FCC rule that said cable operators were barred from occupying more than 40 percent of their first 75 channels with affiliated programming.

At the time of the ruling, AT&T Corp. was the only MSO that exceed the 30 percent cap, mainly through minority investments in Time Warner Entertainment and Cablevision Systems Corp.

AT&T had until May 19 to divest its TWE stake in keeping with an FCC condition in connection with AT&T's acquisition of MediaOne Group Inc. last June.

But the FCC suspended the TWE sale deadline March 16 after the court voided cable-ownership rules on which the commission based some of the AT&T-MediaOne merger conditions.

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Subject: DTV delays in France
From: The Fractal Surfer   fractal.surfer@wanadoo.fr 

It seems that our government, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to delay the launch of DTTV in France to the end of 2002 (it was originally scheduled for the end of 2001). They really don't seem to be in a hurry. I don't know what the reasoning behind that is. Do they want to see how experiments fare in other countries before choosing the best course? Do they want us to get the latest technologies, like DVB-TD or new compression schemes (which would be outside the standard, except if you consider it as a DataStream)?

Anyway, I'm a bit disappointed by the news. I hoped to be able to get digital TV without having to put up a parabola some time soon. I'm currently using a YAGI mounted under the roof (this is great when high winds are blowing other antennas away). The picture is OK most of the time, sometimes striking, but obviously this arrangement must lessen the S/N ratio somewhat. With DTV, the picture would be totally unaffected as long as the C/N remains above the working limit, and i do like the idea. After all the analog signal keeps a memory of everything it has been through between the studio and my TV set, while this is all transparent and virtual to a DTV signal (again, within limits).

It has been often said that DTV was not just for doing the same thing as in the analog world. But me, I don't ask for much more than that .Just give me the current analog channels available in SECAM in digital format and I am a happy man . Also, keep a door open for HDTV, even if we don't implement it right now.

I don't think the argument about the number of channels available on the satellite is really a killer. We have about 6 terrestrial channels and this enough to be dilute quality already. Also a study published on this reflector shows that people ultimately settle to watching only a few channels.

In my opinion, the better TV experience is with fewer channels of greater quality (both technically and content-wise). 

Can the enormous bandwidth dedicated to TV in the US be really justified? Another side-effect of having fewer channels in a country is to create a certain cultural unification. Serving each ethnical group with dedicated channels goes against the melting pot.

As for the results with diversity antennas for DVB, this is impressive. And after all, when you have a good system, why refrain from making it even better?

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Parting Shots
By Larry Bloomfield

If you don't have your EAS equipment up and working, it could cost you some bucks. According to a recent FCC press release, the FCC is cracking down. Take for instance KNEC-FM (Arnold Broadcasting Co.), in Sterling, CO. They have filed for review in hopes that they can get the $10,000 fine reduced for failure to install and maintain Emergency Alert equipment. The Society of Broadcast Engineers has an excellent book that tells even non-technical types what is necessary, both administratively and technically.

I've been working on a couple of stories which have necessitated dealing with the PR folks at the networks. God! What an experience!  It seems that I spend half my time explaining things to them that they should already know. This is especially true if I don't use this weeks in-vogue buzz words. 

I've been asking around about what they plan on doing to accommodate an FCC law that takes effect this next spring with respect to narration for the visually impaired. I've never seen such a job of buck passing and phone call shuffling in my life. Bob Fosse would have been proud.

You know if I had called about one of the stars on their network, they could have given me volumes and possibly an interview, but the very thing that makes it all possible, the technical side, --- for get it! Now I don't expect these fast-talking propagandists to understand down to the component level, but there is more to their networks than the people in front of the cameras. 

Don't even try to ask about digital television. Those waters are so uncharted with these folks; you'd think I was a German officer asking Eisenhower about the plans for the evasion of Normandy the week before that historic event took place. If someone is going to build infrastructure to accommodate not only digital television, but high definition, at least know that HDTV is an enhancement to DTV and not something totally different. Perhaps it's time for the engineers, if and when they have the time, to hold some classes so these folks know what the hell is going on in their own facilities.

Digital television opens up so many possibilities, it takes on the aura of magic and it's that magic that needs to be explained to the PR folks. They do not need to know how the magicians are going to cut a lady in half; they just need to know that the magician is going to do the trick. They need to know what their engineers are doing in this migration to digital and not necessarily how. To say that digital will change the very face and character, not to mention the vast capabilities, of television, is putting it mild.  It's not the same television it once was and there is a whole new education process that needs to go with these changes. 

I guess we can't expect much for broadcaster when some of the staff at the FCC didn't have a clue what Central Casting is. I found out that the buzz word this week for that is Hub casting. That still didn't get the info I needed. We need to consolidate our vocabulary and start calling the same thing by the same name. When I took a computer type to task for calling a dub a clone, he said that a dub is analog and a clone is digital. Is he right or wrong? Who cares, it is achieving the same thing. Another term is migration (digital types) and transition. (broadcaster types). These are just two examples of terms that are used daily in our merging industries.

These are the reasons we have a glossary of broadcast terms on our web site and educational opportunities. If you can't find a word, term or phrase used in television, let us know, we'll find out what it means, post it and let you know. By the same token, we can only post those educational opportunities we now about. There is no charge for any of this.  I had one organization tell me that they printed our glossary and gave copies to all their employees.  GOOD! Thanks.

If we expect to have any level of acceptance of digital television, we need to embark on a crash educational course for all strata of society. Every one at a television facility - big, small, broadcast or non-broadcast, -- needs to know what their engineers are doing to bring them into the modern age of digital television. They need to know what the differences are going to be - the up side and down side of the transition. 

Then we need to educate the folks that are out there trying to sell the display devices to the public and KILL the plethora of the misinformation. HDTV is not more voltage being feed into a transmitter, as one salesman tried to tell me. I remember one of the biggest stumbling-blocks to buying a color TV set was the misinformation that it hadn't been perfected yet and that was still being said as late as the 1980s. Like the modulation system or not, DTV is here and yes there will be constant improvements, but to say it isn't perfected yet is doing us all a very big disservice.

With less than 10 months, we've got our work cut out for us. I've always said that if I can understand it, I can explain it to anyone. Got trouble getting your point across, one of us at the Tech-Notes would be more than happy to help you out. Drop us an e-mail.

Before I close this out and not trying to sound like Columbus recruiting the crews for Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, if you know anything about your station, group, or network doing Central Casting (Hub casting) or what they are doing to accommodate the visually impaired, please let me know.

That's it for this time; let's go to press! 

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