July 16, 2001
Tech Note – 085
Sponsored by: Bloomfield & Associates

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RE: Low cost HDTV
From: Bob Raikes, Managing Editor -- Display Monitor

I feel I have to write to correct an error of fact in this article, in which Larry Bloomfield seems to have got his dots per inch mixed up with his dots per square inch.

The Western market for monitors is now 17" and above for CRTs and 15" and above for LCDs. All of these monitors are capable of displaying 1024 x 768, giving 786,432 pixels, not the 14,000 he quoted. At just under 0.8 megapixels, there are nearly three times as many pixels as in a digital NTSC TV. In fact, most of the CRT monitors sold at 17" and above should be quite happy running at 1280 x 720 with progressive scanning. Of course, if you can get one of those Sony W900 widescreen monitors, or a Samsung 24" LCD, then 1920 x 1080 is no problem either!

(EdNote: Larry did mistakenly say dots per inch and it should have been dots per square inch.  We shall flog him for this most grievous error. He also stands corrected and will think of appropriate action to be taken.  We believe the point he was trying to make is that it takes a fairly large screen to produce anything close to the full pixel count of HD being transmitted by a DTV station.  For this we will be easy on him.)

RE: Low cost HDTV
From: Nicholas Bodley

I think you got a tad confused when you calculated the number of pixels on a screen. I must not be the first (I hope!) to pick up on it. The best working resolution (limited number of choices with stock software) for my nice Matrox Mystique board and nice (but not great) IBM G74 17" monitor is 1152 x 864. (Where the heck did those numbers come from? Having an interest in digital cameras, I finally discovered that some, not too long ago, used those figures. That resolution is a tad shy of 1,000,000 pixels; I'm effectively using a million-pixel screen routinely. It's nice.)

(You said: 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.)

I'd agree, there, having seen HDTV in the Harris truck when it visited our area. Philips direct-view CRT; hated to stop watching. Btw, took the guys an amazingly long time to get the dish pointed at the bird. They were experienced and competent, too. Probably something like 0.1 deg. beamwidth.

(You said --Do the math! Most television sets and computer screens display about 80 pixels per square inch.)


Huh? No way, man! TV CRT resolution is much poorer than a computer CRT, for one, but my monitor, fairly typical, runs quite close to 90 pixels to the inch, close to the 80 you say.(This was measured by ruler and a graphics program, The GIMP, for Graphics Image Manipulation Program. It's a drop-dead astonishingly-good piece of freeware, long the flagship of Linux apps. Has been ported to Win. Not the best user interface for the novice, but...)

90x90 = 8100 pixels/sqin. 

A 15-inch screen is only able to display around 14,560 pixels; a far cry from 2 million. No way!! Fails the plausibility test. A crude guess is that a 15" (14" viewable?) screen is maybe  8.5" high and 11.5" wide. That's about 98 in^2, and assuming a nice 90 pixels/in., I get about 790,000 pixels, in the ballpark.

Something is off by roughly a factor of 55; sorry, buddy!

Can we, pretty please, have a nice big 16:9 computer monitor? I wouldn't be surprised if an organic LED flat panel, bright and big, will be affordable in maybe 5 years, maybe sooner. 


RE: Low cost HDTV
From: Craig Birkmaier, Pcube Labs 
Here are a few key points from the Access DTV site.

Q. What is a PVR and how does it work?
A. PVR stands for "Personal Video Recording." With accessDTV, you can record any DTV or HDTV broadcast right to your hard drive. Currently, accessDTV cannot record analog broadcasts. A huge plus to accessDTV: you can even schedule future digital programs to be recorded just like a standard VCR might. Create your own DTV and HDTV libraries and watch pre-recorded shows anytime you like!

Q. Can I watch Cable and Satellite TV?
A. No problem. Just attach your cable or satellite set-top box (STB) to the card, and you can watch the same channels on your PC that you watch on your regular (analog) TV set. However, you won't see the HDTV shows that come from that STB feed, unless your STB can directly output the 8VSB format (U.S. standard for digital broadcasting)


RE: Tech-Notes web site - Glossary of Broadcast Terms
From: Harriet Diener, Desert Moon Communications, LLC

(EdNote: This is in regards to an inquiry about some of the acronyms that 
fill the tops and bottoms of e-mail messages. Since they are not exactly 
broadcast related, we suggested that Ms. Diener look them up at: 
and put in the question: What is (the acronym)? When we inserted SNMP, we got 
a list of things including it definition:  SNMP - Simple Network Management 
Protocol. If you have other acronyms you’re curious about, we also suggest 
looking at , but it is very slow to load.)

Thank you so much. The acronym website will prove valuable in this industry. 
I really do appreciate your efforts to keep me informed and educated.

Best Regards, Harriet Diener


Subject: Enhancements – Cable, Satellite and now the Phone Company
By: Larry Bloomfield

When RCA announced the formation of the NBC radio network in 1926, they wrote: “The market for receiving sets in the future will be determined largely by the quantity and quality of the programs broadcast. We say quantity because they must be diversified enough so that some of them will appeal to all possible listeners. We say quality because each program must be the best of its kind. If that ideal were to be reached, no home in the United States could afford to be without a radio receiving set.” Attitudes and concepts haven’t changed much in the past 75 years.

In the days of radio, things were much simpler, but today competition for audience share is spread over a number of ways of getting the programs into the home. In addition to over the air FREE television, Cable, Satellite, the Internet and now the phone company, are all vying for their perceived share of those big advertising dollars.

The National Cable Television Association (NCTA) says cable reaches 69.9 million homes (9.7 million of which are digital) in the US, over 10,400 cables systems, of which about 15% serve these digital subscribers. The Satellite Broadcasting & Communications Association (SBCA) says combining the numbers of subscribers on Ku and C band service; direct-to-home satellite broadcasting reaches in excess of 16 million homes, and is growing by about 140,000 each month. All satellite service is digital. 

It’s interesting to note what the different “system lords” are employing to attract subscribers and viewers. To this end, focus groups and test audiences have been busy at work. Responding to some self-initiated consumer focus groups, requests, concerning convenient access to news and information, Scientific-Atlanta, Inc. (SA) unveiled InView, an interactive TV information application, during NCTA’s Cable 2001 show in Chicago, IL, last month. Similar to other products on the market, it is designed to be a flexible news, information and entertainment conduit that will enhance their set-top box (STB) products, providing a 24-hour, on-demand channel for interactive access to everything from local weather forecasts to up to date stock information and sports scores.

It is interesting to note that many of the STB manufacturers and cable companies seem to be ignoring the FCC’s liberalization of STB ownership rules. It wasn’t too long ago when the Commission told the cable industry to come up with standards so that the public could purchase their very own STB and not have to rent one from the cable provider. The idea was so that a subscriber could buy the STB and use it anywhere they chose to live and obtain service.  The deadlines for this standardization have long since come and gone with little more than a smile on the faces of all concerned. One can’t help but wonder what would happen to broadcasters who took such a cavalier attitude to FCC mandates. 

On the other side of that same coin, one can not fault manufacturer’s or cable companies for wanting to come up with unique and innovative ways of turning an extra buck and these new wiz-bang devices are certainly in that league.

Scientific-Atlanta’s InView is strictly a digital cable device. Since cable is the service best suited, at this time in history, for 2-way or full duplex communication with the source, these STB’s can offer more to the viewer than their FREE over-the-air or satellite counter parts. As the quality of video continues to improve over the Internet, it will be interesting to see if SA will be addressing that market too.  Additional information about SA’s excursions in this area available on their web site at: 

One, nearly forgotten, purveyor of signals is the phone company. There was a time when the telephone company played a significant roll in both local and network television distribution and from the sounds things, they may be standing in the wings, ready to a formidable competitor to cable operators.

The key stumbling block in delivering digital television via telephone facilities has been “the last mile.” According to industry experts, the phone companies don’t see a problem getting fiber out into the neighborhoods, but that last several thousand feet has, to date, been the biggest problem; unshielded, twisted copper pairs are not digitally friendly.

A consortium of companies have banded together to address and solve this problem and have delivered not only standard definition digital television via telephone company facilities, but they have successfully demonstrated a quality digital high definition picture as well. The HDTV tests were done in Tennessee.  The picture source was taken from Showtime HDTV, received from Satcom C3. This 1080i, MPEG2 feed was decrypted and converted to asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) OC3 fiber. From there, the HDTV feed was sent over an “IRIS Sonet ring” to a central office of DTC communications, an independent telephone company in Tennessee. This IRIS Sonet ring is used to interconnect 11 Independent Telcos in Tennessee. 

Once in DTC's central office, a multimedia access switch was used to send the signal over telephone lines to a ViaJet modem using VDSL. Receiving the VDSL signal was a Lucent HDTV decoder and then on to an HDTV set. According to Mark Schafer, Manager of Sales Engineering for ViaGate Technologies, they have demonstrated digital HDTV pictures over a distance of up to 4,000 ft of unshielded, twisted, copper cable pair wires. 

Schafer says they have successfully demonstrated up to 26 megabits/sec over that distance. “The significance of this test was to show that telephone companies can deliver HDTV along with the normal set of SDTV channels thereby ‘future proofing’ the Telco's networking equipment and protecting their investment.” Concluding, he added, “this technology can’t take its place in the market place, until low cost HDTV capable STBs become available and that appears to be still six months to a year away.”

There’s no question that fiber will one day replace copper, but those investing in these test see that as a long way down the pike, saying that legacy twisted copper pairs are far from being a thing of the past. May be the Telcos and their distribution system can come up with a standard STB and beat the cable companies at their own game.

For additional information visit these web sites. and 


Subject: 2001 - 2006 DTV Migration Trends & Product Reports
From: Des Chaskelson, SCRI International (

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: www.scri.comc/sc reprt.html. Contact Des Chaskelson at: for more information. 


Subject: Antennas
From: SkyReport

If Congress & the FCC can force building owners to allow dishes and antennae and allow people access to multiple service providers, then what keeps them from doing the same thing to cable companies? In some sense cable companies are far more vulnerable to federal & FCC regulation than apartment owners, who rarely cross state lines.

(Ed Note: I'm not trying to take sides here, but I sense an impending collision of important Constitutional principles.)

On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., threw out a challenge of Federal Communications Commission rules forbidding building owners from restricting the use of over-the-air reception devices - including satellite dishes - on leased property.

In the case, the Building Owners and Managers Association International argued that the FCC exceeded its statutory authority by extending rules for over-the-air reception devices (or OTARD) to leased property. The association and other petitioners also said in their request for a review of the case that the FCC arbitrarily and capriciously abused its discretion in promulgating amended OTARD rules.

However, the appeals court disagreed with the petitioners' arguments. "Finding unpersuasive these facial challenges to the amended OTARD rule, we deny the petition," the three-judge panel said in its ruling.

Earlier in the year, regulations governing the use of off-air antennas on leased property survived a challenge at the FCC. In that case, real estate interests filed a petition asking the commission to stay its decision to extend OTARD protection to two-way antennas that transmit and receive communications. 


Subject: Five Full Length Movies on One DVD/ Zeros & Ones Unveils Breakthrough in Digital Video Compression
Source: Business Wire

Zeros & Ones, Inc. announced the successful completion of Phase Two of its development of a revolutionary new high quality digital video compression engine.

Code named "MC-10," the new compression engine represents a breakthrough in digital compression technology--achieving ratios between three to ten times compression with the same or superior levels of image quality to MPEG2.

The Company is currently in the process of putting five full-length feature films on a single DVD to demonstrate the power of its inventions, and aggressively expanding its patent portfolio along these lines.

The Company intends to commercialize and license MC-10 as well as several of its processes into individual products.

The market for digital video compression is huge, encompassing DVDs, personal video recorders (such as Microsoft Ultimate TV and TiVO), satellite TV, digital motion picture transmission to theaters, high-quality video conferencing, digital video phones, wireless, and other broadband applications.

Zeros & Ones: Headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif., Visit their web site at:


Subject: EchoStar and CBS Television
From DTV magazine (by permission)

EchoStar Communications Corporation and CBS Television will offer eligible DISH Network customers access to CBS's extensive schedule of high definition digital television programming, it was announced today by Michael Schwimmer, Vice President of Programming for EchoStar, and Martin D. Franks, Executive Vice President, CBS Television.  Together, DISH Network and CBS will provide the highest resolution format of digital television with the best picture clarity available to satellite TV customers across the nation.

DISH Network will launch east and west coast CBS HD feeds by the start of the 2001-2002 television season for DISH Network customers and will demonstrate the CBS HDTV feeds at the annual 2001 Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association convention in Nashville, Tenn., Aug. 2-4. Depending on where they live, DISH Network customers will be offered one of the CBS HD feeds as long as they meet one of several criteria. Interested parties are directed to contact Dish directly for details. 


Subject: Child molester will lose broadcast licenses 
Edited from a story By Diane Toroian Of The Post-Dispatch 

A St. Charles man convicted of child molestation will lose his licenses to operate five Midwest radio stations within 90 days.

The Federal Communications Commission has informed Michael Rice that it would auction his licenses, including those for an alternative rock station in Columbia and an easy listening station near the Lake of the Ozarks.

The decision marks the first time in many years that the FCC has revoked a license because it finds the owner morally unfit.

Rice was convicted in 1994 of sodomizing five boys between the ages of 10 and 16. He was sentenced to an eight-year term and was released from Farmington Correctional Center in 1999 after serving five years.

Rice, 59, says he suffered from bi-polar disorder but that he is rehabilitated.

After a three-year investigation, the Commission moved to revoke Rice's licenses in 1998 because of his conviction. It also argued that Rice filed false reports with the FCC.

Though the FCC typically sanctions owners for bad business practices, it may punish owners for poor character. It defines character as "the likelihood that an applicant will deal truthfully with the commission and comply with the Communications Act and our rules and policies."

Radio analysts say they doubt the FCC's revocation signals the start of a moral crusade to strip unsavory owners of their licenses. That's largely because owners today are hundreds of stockholders, not individuals. That said, the FCC has revoked licenses based on the character of a company as an institution. For instance, the FCC stripped the RKO radio chain of its licenses in 1987 after finding unethical business practices on the part of its parent company, GenCorp.

Still, such severe FCC action is rare. Spokeswoman Audrey Spivack said she and fellow staff members could not even recall the last time the FCC revoked a license for character reasons. However, the FCC has revoked the licenses of convicted drug traffickers in accordance with unrelated drug laws. 

(EdNote: For the complete story published in the St. Louis, MO newspaper, visit:
OpenDocument&PubWrapper=Metro   This could also happen to an owner of a television station. Without taking a position on the FCC decision or the morals of the individual concerned, one cannot help but wonder when governments will stop trying to legislate morality. It has never work in the past and will most likely not in the future. Perhaps one does not have to leave Washington, DC to find issues of moral turpitude. We have even elected officials whose morals are akin to those of the Marques de Sade.)


Subject: GM/News Corp. talks progressing:
From: Various sources

 General Motors confirmed it is close to completing discussions with News Corp. that would result in the sale of the automaker's Hughes Electronics and DirecTV units to Rupert Murdoch as the cornerstone to the creation of his Sky Global enterprise. 

GM spokeswoman Toni Simonetti would only say that “talks are going well” and “rounding the corner.” Andrew Butcher, a spokesman for News Corp., also acknowledged that the talks are “progressing nicely,” but declined to comment if an agreement is imminent -- given that persistent rumors of a pending News Corp.-Hughes deal date back more than a year.

An acquisition of Hughes's DirecTV home satellite service, reaching 9.5 million subscribers domestically, would give News Corp. a much needed satellite footprint in the U.S. and potentially fulfill the company's global satellite TV presence, including Europe (Sky TV), Asia (Star TV) and Latin America. News Corp. as well as a slew of telecommunications manufacturers are frothing at the chance to have a worldwide satellite platform offering a host of other wireless/hand-held data services already popular in Europe and Asia. 

Competing U.S. satellite operator EchoStar Communications Corp., which operates the smaller Dish Network, also had hoped to be a suitor for Hughes, but General Motor's board has not requested a proposal related to EchoStar. 


Subject: Hawaii Continues DBS Push at FCC
Gathered from various sources by: 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.)

Attorneys representing Hawaii continued their push at the Federal Communications Commission for better DBS service for the Pacific island state, asking a new commissioner to take a look at the issue. 

According to documents filed at the agency, counsel for the state recently met with Michael Copps, telling the new commissioner that DBS licensees aren't meeting FCC standards that require them to deliver packages and services to Hawaii and Alaska that are similar to what is offered in the continental United States.

In the documents, attorneys for Hawaii said DBS providers have "failed to meet this standard and have provided no indication that they will attempt to meet this standard in the foreseeable future." 

The attorneys said DirecTV's offerings for Hawaii are "radically different and deficient" from its packages delivered in the mainland. While they said EchoStar has made better progress, and its package for Hawaii is attracting a lot of interest, "there are still shortcomings with its service to the state," the attorneys wrote. 

State officials also pointed out that both companies plan to launch new satellites, which they said could improve DBS service to Alaska and Hawaii "only if the commission makes it clear" that they have an obligation to provide service similar to what is offered in the continental United States. 

At press time, DirecTV didn't have a response to Hawaii's latest moves at the FCC. In a statement, EchoStar said, "We're pleased that Hawaii has recognized the hard work that DISH Network has done to provide an alternative to cable in Hawaii. We now offer our affordable Digital Home Plan, offering over 100 channels with no equipment to buy. Our America's Top 150 is also available in Hawaii. With retailers located across the islands, we've made it simple for Hawaiians to receive crystal clear digital television."


Subject: NAB Blasts DirecTV on Local Signal Work 
From: SkyReport

The National Association of Broadcasters wrote the Federal Communications Commission criticizing recent moves made by DirecTV to ensure that the DBS provider receives a quality signal from stations carried in its local-into-local packages. 

During the past few weeks, DirecTV has been working at the commission on quality local TV signal issues and their relation to the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act (SHVIA). In a sharply-worded letter sent to the FCC, the NAB said what DirecTV is looking for is a "perfect signal" rather than a good quality signal from local stations. The organization said only good-quality signals are specified in SHVIA. 

The broadcasting organization, which was joined by the Association of Local Television Stations in its letter, said DirecTV was trying to get the FCC to rewrite SHVIA in an effort to get local stations to deliver perfect signals. "In short, DirecTV's insistence that TV stations provide a signal of vastly higher quality than they are required to provide to cable systems is inconsistent both with the language of SHVIA and with its goal of creating a regulatory regime parallel to that applicable to cable," the NAB said. 

As of press time, DirecTV didn't have a comment on the NAB letter. However, in an ex-parte filing sent to the FCC in June, DirecTV said the commission should not "simply incorporate the off-air standard from the cable television must-carry regime" for local signals delivered by satellite.


Parting Shots
By Larry Bloomfield

Satellite service:

When I decided to pack it up down in Silly-Con valley and move to an area that is probably the best kept secret in the US, I found it was rural enough that there was no DSL, and probably wouldn’t be any for some time to come. Being spoiled and not wanting ever to go back to a dial-up modem, if at all possible, I began my search for an alternative way of addressing e-mail and internet access that wouldn’t remove what little I have for my grandkids inheritance. 

Driving through the new town (a very short trip), I saw some rather interesting DTH antenna configurations on some of the roofs. I’d heard that one could get a service that shared some of the facilities of the Dish satellite network that was two way (full duplex) internet accesses via satellite comparable to speeds similar to DSL. I did a crap shoot, giving up five years with DirecTV and cast my lot with a completely new Dish set up with a Starband TX/REC unit on the Dish feed horn.

In a nutshell; I gave up DSL hassles for fewer Starband hassles; nothing is perfect. Going on 90 days, I’m satisfied. My wife likes the program line-up on Dish much better than DirecTV and I still haven’t found a way to reduce my time before the computer screen and still be productive.

Two recent developments have tended to confirm my selection as being on track. Despite the fact that Dish is the smaller of the two, I appreciate a company that is willing to take a chance on new technology. Case in point is the announcement that Dish will be carrying the HDTV programming offered by CBS and there is a lot.

I'm upset because I didn’t follow my own advice; I purchased a new large screen NTSC TV set in January. I should have either waited or gotten a set that will accommodate many of the new digital enhancements such as HDTV, but I didn’t and now I’m tying to figure out how to convince my wife we need a new set that will accommodate what Dish will be offering. Sure do wished she was a Young & Restless fan.

In addition to this, I received a press release that says EchoStar is ncreasing its equity stake in StarBand, my new internet and e-mail service, to a 32 percent ownership position, a move they say will increase to 60 percent upon commencement of construction of a next generation satellite for its service. 

Incase you don’t know EchoStar is the parent company of DBS service DISH Network and an original investor and one of the largest distribution channels for StarBand. In exchange for its increased equity stake, EchoStar will invest an additional $50 million in StarBand. EchoStar also said it made a commitment to launch a next generation satellite for the service.

The company hasn't said what type of satellite will be built for the service, whether it's a Ku-Band spacecraft or a next-generation Ka-Band bird a number of other developing satellite/broadband plan to use when they launch service. EchoStar has ordered Ku-Band and Ka-Band satellites. StarBand's service uses Ku-Band satellites. 

An EchoStar spokesman said the new satellite offers increased capacity, and is envisioned to incorporate spot beam technology to help provide improved cost savings per customer for both companies. 

Show me the money:

A recent report published by IEEE say that electrical engineering is, by and large, a decent way to make a living. According to their latest survey, electrical engineers working full time in the United States saw their median income hit $93,100 in early 2001.  Adding in things like overtime and pension benefits brought the median to $99,000. Either I didn’t stick around long enough or my employer never got the word. Nonetheless, not too shabby.

Communications wrinkles:

There was a time when telephone area codes in this country only had a 0 or a 1 for their middle number. Now there is talk of extending our area codes to 4 digits and requiring each user to dial all numbers, including area code each time they make even a local call. Thank heaven for speed dial. Only problem is that when someone asks me for a number I only dial with the speed dial, I have to look it up. 

If the area code dilemma isn’t enough, the conjurers, movers and shakers of the internet have stirred the pot again and added a number of new domain suffixes to the plethora already now available. The following is a list I recently received asking if I wanted to foster a site with one of these suffixes. When they come out with dot donuts, dot procrastinator or dot fat-boy, perhaps I will. 

.golf     .school     .llc       .agent
.scifi    .church     .llp       .auction   .love
.shop   .mp3        .inc       .kids       .sport
.family .Chat        .video    .club       .hola
.SOC   .med        .law       .travel     .game
.free     .ltd           .gmbh   .tech      .xxx

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


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