October 8, 2001
Tech-Note 091

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In reply to Tech-Notes 89
From: Regner A. Capener, Chief Engineer, KTLM-TV

With regard to Charles McDevitt's comments concerning "dual mode" receivers, I absolutely agree that this is a solution. It would initially cost the manufacturers approximately $8.00 per receiver in additional parts and manufacturing costs to build them in a dual mode configuration, and over time, that cost should drop significantly.  As one who witnessed some early HDTV tests back in the late 70's and saw favorable public reaction, I have long been a proponent of HDTV.

By whatever method it takes to make HDTV available in all viewing areas -- whether that be 8-VSB or COFDM -- can we, please, as an engineering community agree to move forward?  8-VSB obviously works better in south Texas -- flat terrain that extends forever.  COFDM easily outperforms 8-VSB in hilly or mountainous terrain, as well as in cities populated with tall buildings.

If both technologies are allowed to go forward, and manufacturers begin mass producing dual mode receivers, the cost impact to consumers will be minimized.  Broadcasters can deliver their signal in either 8-VSB or COFDM, subject to local geography or market considerations.  Consumers will be able to purchase receivers at an affordable cost, and there will be some incentive to "upgrade."

The politics of "either/or" hurts everyone.  The public isn't served, broadcasters are forced to used transmission technologies that may or may not work in their given markets, and manufacturers wind up producing products with limited appeal.  Nobody wins.

Surely we can unite and send a strong message to everyone concerned!  Despite the FCC's one-sided rulings, if the industry -- and particularly, we as a unified engineering community -- stand up and say, "ENOUGH!", we can inspire genuine progress on this subject.

Regner A. Capener

In reply to Tech-Notes 89
From: John J. Stapleton

Well said. Hope your "Parting Shots" hits FCC and Congress right between the eyes.

In reply to Tech-Notes 90

(EdNote: Received within a few days after 9/11)

You speak well for lots of us. And thanks on behalf of my home town, NYC. Only CBS TV2 is on the air in NYC area. I vaguely recall its transmitters stayed on Empire State Bldg.
Tho' called "Captain Video" at US Army Ft. Monmouth NJ and "Video Guru" at USAF-WP in Ohio I do not have cable TV because it is supposed to be a two street according to consent judgment in early 1970's.
I deeply regret that my airport video security and designs for DoD, CIA etc. was even more vulnerable than I had warned in my vain efforts to redirect star wars funds to defend against such foreseeable breaches of security.
I just saw and heard Secretary of State and General Powell state unequivocally that "the American People feel we are at war and we are."  Let us all rededicate ourselves in television to "eternal vigilance" and the proposition that "vision is the art (and science)of seeing the invisible."(J. Swift)
May all the casualties and families who mourn the loss of loved ones receive comfort and Peace from our common Creator, which Peace is not the absence or avoidance of war, but tranquility of order.
RE: In reply to Tech-Notes 89
From: Craig Birkmaier, Pcube Labs
I can't say that I agree with you about the DTV cable carriage issue.
You said: “Hello FCC. The era of shooting yourselves in the foot has got to come to a close. It’s time to do what is necessary to get digital off the ground. You’ve dilly-dallied around enough. The dual carriage is a must or DTV will be a bust!”
We already have problems with NTSC. The service is underutilized and does not provide the coverage OR the content that viewers want. The reality is that cable grew in response to the limitations of the broadcast service.
Broadcasters have used analog cable carriage as a crutch. The same would happen if they are granted dual carriage. Or things could get worse...
Imagine what would happen to cable rates if broadcasters used must carry of their entire DTV multiplex to carry the popular cable channels that their networks control (MTV, Disney, ESPN, MSNBC, Fox News, etc.etc.) Cable now derives significant revenues from local ad insertions into these networks. What would happen if cable were forced to carry these networks as part of broadcast must carry?
The answer is not more government gerrymandering. The answer is REAL COMPETITION, and the use of the spectrum for a viable competitive service.
We agree that it is time for the Congress and the FCC to do what is necessary to get DTV off the ground. Where we disagree is that Digital TV IS’s just not the broadcast DTV standard. More than 25% of U.S. homes now receive a multi-channel digital service.
The government needs to come up with a policy that will put the spectrum to good use for the public and encourage competition with the cable and soon to be DBS monopolies. I will be attempting to define such a solution...soon.


RE: In reply to Tech-Notes 89
From: Dick Hobbs, Writer and consultant on broadcast technology, & editor of the IBC Daily News
I find your newsletter an excellent source of information, and sometimes I have been moved to respond in the past. But just occasionally some of the content causes me great hilarity and mirth.
You see, I live in England, where we have a whole different perspective on television. And your piece "Fox being Foxy with HDTV" seems, to the eyes of a Brit, just bizarre.
Here in the UK virtually all of the peaktime programming - drama, soaps, news, documentaries, entertainment, whatever - on our free-to-air channels is produced and broadcast in digital widescreen. It has been for years - five or six years in some cases. Soap operas like Brookside and Hollyoaks are already on their second generation widescreen digital production kit.
I am what the trade would probably call a late adopter, but I have had a widescreen digital television in my living room for almost two years now.
Indeed, just about the only time I get the vertical black borders on my television set in the evening is...when American programming is on. One or two shows - ER, for instance, or The Sopranos - feel able to supply widescreen versions for their international customers. The West Wing is my favourite drama produced anywhere in the world at the moment, but why is it not in 16:9? And I won't even begin to tell you what I would do for Buffy the Vampire Slayer in widescreen.
Sure, there are people on Pico Boulevard thinking about digital television. But I watch it every day. Remember that there are 5 million digital receivers in the UK alone!
Dick Hobbs – Go ahead! E-mail me and tell me I am wrong!


RE: In reply to Tech-Notes 90
From: Ray Maker, KIRO-TV Seattle
Very nice piece of work; It sure is good to hear how people set up and help out each other in time of need.
Again Larry nice job


RE: In reply to Tech-Notes 90
From: Eugene I. Crosthwait
Whew! Talk about scrambling. Attawaytogo!


Subject: Taking Charge at GE
From: Fred Lawrence
“My second day as chairman, a plane I lease, flying with engines I built, crashed into a building that I insure, and it was covered with a network that I own,” said Jeff Immelt, new head of General Electric. Oh! Poor baby.
As reflected in the fact that GE's stock hit a five-year high recently. And you can bet they won't lose a nickel on any of those businesses. Anyone see Jack Welsh opining on "60 Minutes" about airline bailout funds recently?
I think it must have been a 5-year low.  It's in the 30s now, and at the peak of the frenzy, it hit or came close to 60. -- ABC
Gee-Eee: We bring good things to life.


(Ed Note: When reading the following, please keep in mind that it was submitted prior to IBC and September 11th)
Subject: COFDM performed as expected.
From: Bob Miller
COFDM performed as expected. Actually better. One particular incident comes to mind.
A conference was being held in the sub basement of a hotel. The room had no windows. I cautioned that there was probably no signal there hence no reception. Plugged in a small portable TV. Attached the HiTop receiver plus cable with crinkly handmade bowtie antenna (fractal snowflake design-kidding). Instant reception. Proceeded to whip antenna overhead like a lasso (pictures later). No loss of reception. Giddiness all round. Canadian participants though COFDM proponents hadn't witnessed COFDM reception.
Drove through downtown Toronto with simple non-directional antenna and suffered loss of reception once for ten feet as we entered second basement garage. 30 miles north of Toronto at 73 mph (arbitrary speed) at 3500 watts transmitter power, perfect reception.
Demonstrated DVT-A1 PCMCIA card for first time in world. Could receive data and video at same time but couldn't display video. Video had to be saved and played back; Software problem that will be fixed for IBC in Amsterdam.
Talked  to broadcasters and members of CRTC the Canadian organization responsible for directing the transition to DTV. The broadcasters we talked to said that there were no pro 8-VSB broadcasters in Canada. Some were mute on the subject and the rest were pro COFDM. One broadcaster who sets on the ATSC committee said the problem come from the fact that the majority vote in the ATSC is held by non broadcasters and non technical types.
CRTC members agreed that all pressure was coming from CEA members. Both broadcasters and CRTC members thought that CEA attitude was short sighted and directed at selling HDTV monitors with their large gross profit margins.
I think Canada will opt for at least allowing COFDM which sans MSTV test fraud would have been possible in the US. First Canada will delay and then they will delay and then things will probably be different.
One broadcaster said that if COFDM had been allowed in the US and therefore in Canada he would already be on the air with it in Toronto, happily. Toronto looks like on and off COFDM test till October 2002. Maybe an 8-VSB type will show up to challenge COFDM by then but I doubt it. No non-disclosures or curtains on the windows.


Subject: Commission Tackles Cable Ownership Rules
By: Fred Lawrence
Recently, the Federal Communications Commission is expected to launch a rulemaking focusing on cable system ownership limits, a move that comes after an appeals court struck down the agency's original regulations last spring.
Part of the rules may put a limit on the number of subscribers a cable company can serve across the nation. Previous FCC rules prohibited cable companies from serving more than 30 percent of all pay TV subscribers in the United States.
In March, the regulations were thrown out on First Amendment grounds by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. AT&T and Time Warner Entertainment challenged the rules in court. After the appeals court made its move, the FCC along with the Justice Department decided not to appeal the decision.
The FCC will tackle the cable ownership rules at its regularly scheduled meeting set to take place at its Portals headquarters in Washington, D.C., today. A spokesperson confirmed Wednesday afternoon that the meeting will take place as scheduled.


Subject: Lessons for Broadcasters from the WTC/Pentagon Bombings
From: John Willkie
For the last few weeks, I've been taking notes of what broadcasters should have learned, and I believe have learned from the terrorist bombings of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Arlington, VA.
1.  Over the Air Broadcasting Rules!
    Before the blasts at the WTC, WCBS-TV's evening news was usually trumped in the ratings by Spanish-language news casts.  After the blast, as they were for a while the only VHF station broadcasting in the market (at standby facilities) their ratings "skyrocketed."  Even in a highly cabled market like NYC, with cable customers having access to the same signals as usual, OTA made the difference.  Sure, many of these viewers were variable and many would soon dry up.  But, considering the multitude of signal sources on cable (news 12, NY1, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, FNC, etc) covering the crisis, CBS's massive ratings jump must be a grim milestone for broadcasters to ponder at the verge of a commercial DTV transition.
2.  Multicasting Works
   The Viacom model, right after the blast, was to plaster CBS News content over all of their available channels, including UPN, CMTV, VH-1, MTV, etc.  With no increase in information.  To a certain extent, this was the model followed by ABC vis a vis ESPN, and Fox with their multiple channels.  Call it mimeo broadcasting.  Maybe it made sense, as nobody was watching anything else.
For a day or so after the blast, this largely was the model followed by GE.  Then, in the second day after the blast, they changed course:  Tom Brokaw was on the NBC feed, while CNBC and MSNBC used their own anchors, and some of the reporters from NBC, for their own specialized or additional coverage.  I'm not sure what MSNBC's model really is (tech news?  taking MS money?) but these three networks provided complimentary coverage that largely was not available elsewhere.  And, they used the crisis to exert individual identities of their channels.  Now, if they only had an operation for acquiring and understanding news from outside the borders of the USA ...
3.. Single Stick Broadcasting Saves Money (most of the time)
   We've heard on this list and elsewhere that the big stick model of US broadcasting is dead, and proponents say that it works in the US and saves money over the way others do it.  I believe that the current situation will prove otherwise.  Contemplate what CBS's giant ratings boost will do for them when there is a future similar crisis.  Contemplate how much money was saved over the last 30 years since WTC stations went on-line (by not keeping back up facilities.)  Then, calculate how much money the stations will lose in money (not to calculate prestige) in the next three or four (or more years) because of using minimal facilities.  My seat of the pants synopsis is that they lost much more in money than they saved.  Of course, if advertising rates to to 1970 levels ...
Then, try to figure out where stations will broadcast from, if as appears to be the current sentiment, if the WTC is not rebuilt.  One of the many advantages of the WTC was the tremendous reach of the stations (more than 100 miles in my experience) and the single location of the VHF's in the market, easing tuning problems.
Also, since the topic is DTV, contemplate using a dozen or more locations for the existing NYC tv stations to broadcast DTV signals.  Perhaps the single stick model is dead.
4.  Every station that presents news needs a backup transmitter site.  Cartoons -- and stations that are off the air -- are irrelevant in a crisis.  Will the future have more such events than the past 30 years, or fewer?
5.  Acquiescing to Government Programs is no guarantee of Commercial Success.
   On September 11, 2001, at least 19 persons were able to take over four US commercial jet liners, despite the institution of FAA-mandated screening programs at all airports.  The airlines did "everything they were required to do by law" and yet guys armed with box cutters were able to take over jets and crash them into two buildings.  American Airlines was insured for $1.5 billion per building; they are essentially bankrupt as the damages for the WTC is right now estimated to be $18 billion, and AA does not have $15 billion in the bank.  United Airlines had similar coverage, yet not enough to cover the crash at the Pentagon.  (Flying planes create significant -- and until recently -- unrealized exposure.)
These two companies will only be able to survive -- if at all -- if they are granted some form of drastic relief by the government.  When that comes up, ALL ASPECTS OF THE AIRLINES' BUSINESS AND COMMERCIAL PRACTICES will be up for grabs.  (Nice touch, AA, furloughing 20,000 employees and after the bill was signed by the president to put $800 million into your coffers, telling the furloughed employees that there would be no severance pay.  That will cost you in the long run, but I suspect you're not engaged in the long run at this time.)
The ATSC transmission system, you might recall, was mandated by the government.  It is not hard to imagine that the future of TV broadcasting in the US will, at some point in the future, be subjected to the same political process.  (Who remembers the NAB/MSTV "vote" and still thinks it was taking the long-range view?)
6.  Very few local stations can be trusted to not step over important national coverage for local foolishness.  Here in San Diego, KFMB-TV 8 stepped all over the ever-present CBS coverage to present the local angle.  (Which, for all practical purposes, amounted to nil.)  As a result, I've now stopped watching their news for the rest of my life.  McGraw-Hill's KGTV/10/ABC, on the other hand, had a cable news channel on the Cox cable system.  Until Friday evening, they never interrupted ABC's stellar coverage, except once an hour with a :10 (I'm sure this only appeared on sets attached to cable) saying "For local news on the terrorist bombings, please tune to cable channel 15.")  I don't know that the cable channel carried spots, the local angle never attracted me.
7.  This is related to the OTA rules point, but it's something to contemplate in the cable, NTSC and ATSC world.  Cable subscribers are essentially a fixed part of your audience.  Each cable subscriber has a wide panoply of programming sources.  OTA viewers, without the monthly commitment, are more variable group, with a much more limited selection of options.
P.S.  Suggestion for broadcasters who feel the need for all their digital signals being carried on cable.  The next time there's a crisis meriting saturation coverage, put all the crisis coverage on of your DTV virtual channels that is not carried by cable.  Run the same old programming on the main (cable carried) channel.  Run a crawl saying: your cable company has declined to carry our crisis coverage because  they want to limit the information available to you.  For more information, call Joe Cable on XXX-XXXX.  "Impossible" carriage will be arranged within 30 minutes, I bet.


Subject: Renascence – A look into the past
By Roy Trumbull
From 1955 to 1958 Dave Garroway did a television program called Wide Wide World. Every Sunday afternoon for 90 minutes you were transported live all over the country. That was fairly daunting to do, as television satellites were off into the future and the venues had to be delivered by conventional point-to-point microwave.
At the end of each program, Dave would perch partway up a step ladder in front of a set that invoked infinite perspective and say these signature lines:
“The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky,--
No higher than the soul is high.”
Then Dave would hold up the palm of his hand toward the camera and say, “Peace.”
I’m afraid this is the only example I can think of where poetry was associated with a weekly television show.
Recently two books were reviewed in the New York Times Book Review about the life and works of Edna St. Vincent Millay. One reviewer commented that Dave Garroway was fond of quoting several lines from one of her poems. Bingo, I traced the poem. It was the title poem from the anthology “Renascence and Other Poems”, first published in 1917.
Dave Garroway used the first two lines from the last stanza. The entire stanza reads:
The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky,--
No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
Farther away on either hand;
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of God shine through.
But East and West will pinch the heart
That can not keep them pushed apart;
And he whose soul is flat—the sky
Will cave in on him by and by.


Subject: US TV Stations Look to Ad Revenue and Datacasting to Fund H/DTV Transition
From: Des Chaskelson, Research Director, SCRI International, Inc.
SCRI International, Inc.,, announced the results of SCRI’s DTV Migration Survey of US TV, which shows how TV Stations expect to fund the transition to H/DTV.
The majority of stations (71%) expect to generate revenue to pay for the transition to digital via commercial revenues. Datacasting is also seen as a primary source of generating revenue – over six out of ten stations (62%) expect to use datacasting revenue to help pay for the DTV conversion. One out of four stations (24%) also expect to use the revenue generated from leading out multichannels. The non-commercial stations are also relying upon corporate funding, PBS membership and government grants. Stations are not relying on pay per view for DTV funding.  Stations do expect to use more than one source, as evidenced by that fact that the total exceeds 100%. The results are shown as follows:
Revenue Sources                             Percent
Commercial revenue                         70.9
Datacasting services                         62.0
Leasing out unused multichannels      24.1
Corporate funding                             11.4
PBS membership                               6.3
Govt. grants                                       5.1
Pay per view                                     1.3
According to an NAB announcement, more than two-thirds of all commercial television stations (68.2 percent) expect to have a digital signal on the air before May 1, 2002.  A census of stations conducted by NAB in recent weeks found that more than 19 of 20 (95.8 percent) of the nation’s television homes would be in markets served by at least one digital signal by that date.
The recent 2001-2006 DTV Migration Report Series conducted by SCRI International includes TV Station Trends and Products Reports as well as a Production / Post Production DTV Migration Trends Report. To view the table of contents for the DTV Migration Reports online, go to:
EdNote: For a follow up on the World Trade Center disaster, take a look at one of these URLs.
Parting Shots
By Larry Bloomfield
Totally off topic, but a couple of things that I feel needs to be said: As you know, we don’t review TV shows in Tech-Notes. Here’s the exception to that rule. If you missed seeing “West Wing” this past week (Oct. 3rd), it points out how we can get off on the wrong track so easily. I’m not a big fan of shows that set out to “teach” a moral lesson. That’s something I believe is the duty of parents and religionists. That particular episode of West Wing is the exception. None of us should have any problem with that show!  Well done!  If you missed it, bug the network, the producers, or whoever, but get a copy and take the hour to watch it. I’d like to have a copy in my archive. It would be required view of my grandchildren and possibly loaned to the local middle schools and high schools.
Because of the nature of Tech-Notes 90, the story we carried was all that should have been carried. I can’t begin to thank all the folks who were so cooperative in furnishing me with information so I could tell the story of how our industry came together and got New York City back on the air one way or another. For the most part, completive battle lines became invisible. The various forums that I subscribe to were ablaze with information and, to some extent, misinformation. In this business, that’s to be expected.
While I’m making exceptions to the rules, there is one other thing that I have a difficult time dealing with and that’s the blatant prejudice that has our country in such a death grip. It takes so little for us to slip back into the Stone Age when it comes to saying that EVERYONE of a different religion, race, ethnic derivation, or whatever, is evil, bad or needs to be wiped out.
I can trace my ancestry back eight generations here in North America to a time before the concept of a United States would have been considered an act of treason against the English crown. Like most of you, I am a proud American. I spent sixteen years in Uncle Sam’s canoe club and would go back on active duty in a heartbeat, if they’d take an overweight, sixty-three year old. It is rather comforting to hear our British kinfolk position themselves with us in our time of consternation and grief, not to mention the plethora of governments and monarchies who support us.
I can’t get over hearing and seeing some of the off the wall comments, however, some, who without think, have made castigating whole groups of people. I can appreciate the myriad of feelings we have all garnered over the recent tragic events. In no way do I presume ever offer the last word on anything. I do know in my heart that those who have inflicted this heinous act of terrorism on our great nation and claim to do so in the name of their religion are no more apart of the teaching of Mohamed, the Koran and the faith of Islam then are members of the KKK, skin-heads and the likes are apart of the teachings of Christ, the Bible and under the umbrella of Christianity.
I’m not sure who it was who said: “If we don’t learn from history, we will be condemned to repeat it.”  With that in mind, permit me to share some quotes from a number of well known people from history that deal with many of the comments I mentioned earlier. You can substitute any major religion’s name where the words Christianity appear below; it applies to all equally:
Many have quarreled about religion that never practiced it.
-- Benjamin Franklin
All religion must be tolerated, for every man must get to heaven in his own way.
-- Frederick the Great
Science without religion is lame -- religion without science is blind.
-- Albert Einstein
It's not dying for faith that's so hard, it's living up to it.
-- William Makepeace Thackeray
Justice is itself the great standing policy of civil society and any eminent departure from it, under any circumstances, lies under the suspicion of being no policy at all.
-- Edmund Burke
The way of the world is, to praise dead saints, and persecute living ones.
-- Nathaniel Howe
It is the cause and not merely the death that makes the martyr.
-- Napoleon Bonaparte
If a man cannot be a Christian in the place where he is, he cannot be a Christian anywhere.
-- Henry Ward Beecher
Christianity has not been tried and found wanting it has been found difficult and not tried.
-- Gilbert K. Chesterton
The bible may be the truth, but is it not the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
-- Samuel Butler
Satan the envious said with a sigh:  "Christians know more about their hell than I."
-- Alfred Kreymborg
An atheist is a man who has no invisible means of support.
-- Fulton J. Sheen
Passover affirms the great truth that liberty is the inalienable right of every human being.
-- Morris Joseph
The Bible is a window in this prison of hope, through which we look into eternity.
-- John Sullivan Dwight
If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.
The best beloved of all things in My sight is justice. turn not away therefrom...
-- Baha'u'llah
All mankind loves a lover.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love.
-- Henry Ward Beecher
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