November 20, 2001
Tech-Note - 093

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Subject: The Fat Lady Has Yet To Sing In San Francisco
By: Larry Bloomfield
Will the Peacock be unfolding its feathers at KNTV or remain at its old perch come January 2002? NBC is apparently having second thoughts on loosing KRON-TV in San Francisco, CA to Young Broadcasting.  Word has it that NBC talks with Young are heating up, a source at NBC confirms. "They're heating up and they're serious," the source says, but continues "the big stumbling block is price and we're still far apart on that."
As a former Bay Area resident, I can say that those who took note, took the sale as a hard pill to swallow but were resigned to the fact that as of this January, NBC would have a new home at Granite’s San Jose based KNTV, leaving KRON-TV an independent.
Young reportedly paid $823 million for KRON-TV last year. Since KRON-TV would be an independent, NBC says it only wants to pay about half that for the station, or maybe a little more.
Having an O&O in the nation’s number five market would be a very bright feather in the Peacock’s tail of stations. If this doesn’t put NBC over the thirty-five percent coverage cap imposed by the FCC, it will put it very close. (See Parting Shots).
We also learned that NBC is treating this like on one of their game shows and is willing to pay Granite a consolation (breakup) fee of $14.5 million, should NBC and Young come to terms. No one at Granite was willing to say anything, but we can only imagine what is going on behind their closed doors.
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Subject: An Open Letter To Charlie Ergen
From: Dale Cripps -- Publisher, HDTV Magazine
Dear Charlie,
First, congratulations, Charlie. You have stepped into the leadership position in DBS in the United States and let me predict that it will later be the world.  You are the BIG player to watch, and we want to watch you...but with lots more HDTV programming.
Mark Cuban has shown a way. From whole cloth he created a DBS network -HDTV to be sure - catering to HDTV sports fans. Others will follow with other appetites in focus. Why? Because HDTV is also a big deal.
Think about this Charlie - the more HDTV you offer on one of your two platforms, the more decoders you won't have to replace free. People will buy them for any new HDTV programming. The demand for HDTV IS building, Charlie, and the costs associated with acquiring it is not its chief obstruction. Program access is.
Well, I hope my logic is not fuzzy nor deluded by wishful thinking. What I hold dearly to is that HDTV - the display standard not the electronics - is the BIG deal for the 21st century. Think of all the economic activity that will soon hang on to any HD success - recorders, cameras, PVRs, discs, and who knows what else. Think of the new appeal that products and services will have when presented via HDTV. "Every increase in communications facility," said the founder of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, C. Francis Jenkins, has ushered in economic expansion. This nation needs a new business success story and none will impact our landscape more than a roaring success for HDTV.
Dale Cripps
Subject: San Francisco Oct 2001 SMPTE – Jason Mancebo, SGI Corp., speaker.
By Roy Trumbull
Infrequently I’ll identify something as a probable change of direction for the broadcasting industry and Jason’s talk belongs in that category. His point was that the time bound nature of video (30 frames/sec) is only important for monitoring and playback. Otherwise, digital source material should be handled as data; with no constraints on how fast or how slowly it travels across a network.
The major implication is that rather than store a program on a server in 601 format or some other format, store it as a data file and reconstitute it to 601 etc. after retrieval. The video source feeding the server would observe IP as would any network fed by the server. It’s expected that the typical LAN will soon operate at 1 gig whereas the WAN speed will continue to be driven by economics.
Treating video as data rather than formatted video will largely eliminate encode/decode cycles that add noise and the accumulation of errors. Jason pointed out that encoding noise in a compression environment can actually result in a compressed file that is larger than the source file.
The benefit will be to eliminate proprietary devices and simply pass video as a file from point to point without the need to have it bound to a set time relationship. Thus a program could traverse a WAN at higher than real time or slower as traffic dictates. Push-Pull software will eliminate the need to press the play button in City A while someone presses the record button in City B.
The immediate future will require switching to devices that offer an IP option and it is likely that the move to “central casting” will drive much of this change.
Roy Trumbull
Subject:. Digital Transition Principles
From: NAB
The television broadcast industry reaffirms its commitment to an expedited transition to digital television and the return of analog spectrum.  Moreover, a successful transition must retain protection of consumers and the viewing audience as its ultimate goal. 
In an effort to advance the transition in a positive way, the NAB Television Board of Directors directs NAB staff to expeditiously pursue innovative solutions to the following goals:
·        Inclusion of over-the-air DTV tuners in every new television set
·        Comprehensive interoperability of DTV sets with cable systems
·        Establishing secure full signal carriage rights for broadcasters’ DTV signals on cable and satellite systems
In accomplishing these objectives, NAB should aggressively seek new and innovative ideas including single versus dual carriage options. 
Subject: A New York Update
Compiled by: Fred Lawrence and Reports from Mark Schubin
According to our sources, two more of the New York stations that lost their main transmitters when the World Trade Center was attacked on Sept. 11 began broadcasting from the Empire State Building in moves that were expected to mean dramatic improvements in over-the-air signals.  Later on in this report, Mark Schubin will go into that further.
Tribune-owned WPIX-TV switched on a transmitter positioned on the Empire State Building antenna, giving the WB affiliate an over-the-air signal pattern said to be similar to what it was prior to the terrorist attacks. Both WABC-TV and WNBC-TV have joined the ESB group.
A coalition of 11 broadcasters strong in and around New York is exploring options that include sharing management of towers built to their specifications and needs, which the Empire State Building is not equipped to do for all local stations.
Mark Schubin was asked by a New York television-broadcasting engineer to check out reception of his NTSC station in my apartment. He says it was quite good, so he checked ALL of the New York NTSC stations, using just the rabbit ears sticking out of the top of the set, unadjusted, for both VHF and UHF stations. What follows is his report:
Reception has definitely improved since the towers fell, even with many of the stations operating at low power from temporary, distant, lower facilities.  Here are the results (channel - call - network - quality):
2 - WCBS-TV - CBS – fair
4 - WNBC-TV - NBC – unwatchable
5 - WNYW-TV - Fox - very good
7 - WABC-TV - ABC - good-to-very good
9 - WWOR-TV - UPN – fair
11 - WPIX-TV - WB  - poor (barely watchable)
13 - WNET-TV - PBS – fair
25 - WNYE-TV - PBS – excellent
31 - WPXN-TV - Pax – unwatchable
41 - WXTV - Univision - very good-to-excellent
47 - WNJU - Telemundo – good
50 - WNJM - PBS – good
68 - WHSE - HSN – good
The more distant stations in the market (channels 21, 43, 49, 52, 54, 55, 58, 62, 63, 66, and 67) were mostly unwatchable, but I got good audio even on most of those. With some antenna tweaking (and a UHF antenna), I might be able to get pictures from them, too.
Officials of the Borough of Alpine, New Jersey have ordered work on the tower that broadcasters were temporarily using to stop, saying it was being done without permission.  The tower's owners claim that a 1989 court order allows them to add equipment as long as there is "minimal" change to the structure:
In association with the Federal Emergency Management Agency's work in lower Manhattan, the National Imagery & Mapping Agency arranged for COFDM DTV transmissions. WNYE-DT was used. They broadcast at relatively low power (1.25 kW) on channel 24 from a short tower in Brooklyn (meanwhile, WNYE-TV, at 2450 kW blasts away on the upper adjacent channel from the Empire State Building). WNYE also provided the MPEG-2 and Real encoders to create a transport stream consisting of SDTV at 2.5 Mbps and datacasting at about 1.5 Mbps.
There were reportedly many problems getting the receivers properly configured, but, once they were, reception was said to be good in lower Manhattan and on the FDR Drive (a highway on the east side of Manhattan) even at 60 miles per hour.  In other locations, according to the report I received, "it was spotty.  On 2nd Avenue and 34th Street reception was nonexistent."  Whether that was a power issue or an adjacent-channel issue was not specified.  Parameters were 8k, QPSK, 1/2 FEC, 1/8 guard interval, data rate about 4.15 Mbps.
National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) president Edward Fritts invoked the World Trade Center in his response to EchoStar's proposal that they be allowed to import HDTV network signals to any market where the local affiliate broadcaster misses the May 1 deadline. The October 24 letter to Federal Communications Commission head Michael Powell said that some broadcasters were being kept off the air by circumstances beyond their control.  Here's a story about the NAB response:
Here's the filing:
Subject:  Sony shuttering HD center
From: Broadcasting & Cable’s Michael Grotticelli
Sony Pictures Entertainment is shutting down its High Definition Center on the Culver City, California lot. The center officially closes in March, eliminating 50 jobs.
The HD center was opened in 1987 by Sony Electronics to support its entry into the HD production product market and was later absorbed into SPE. It was used primarily used for product demonstrations, transferring feature films to HD videotape and post production projects for outside clients.
Sony said it achieved its goal of stimulating the market for its high definition production equipment.
In 1998, the center was honored with a Technical Emmy award for the its development of a high-resolution film scanner.
Dr. Robert Hopkins, senior vice president/general manager of the HD Center, will remain in the Digital Studios Division of SPE to oversee the transfer to digital videotape of at least 500 film titles a year over the next three years.
The HD center has already digitally mastered 900 titles and the goal is to have 2,400 feature film titles, or two-thirds of its library, converted to digital by 2005. This transfer work will now be outsourced to local post facilities.
Michael Grotticelli
Subject: Towers
From: Bob Vinikoor 603-448-0500
Our case to construct a new 50kw AM station in Lebanon NH has been accepted by the New Hampshire Supreme Court. If we win at the NH Supreme Court Level all those with an interest in towers win. If we loose likewise it isn't good for all those who have an interest in towers. We are looking for help from those who might want to file as a  "friend of the court" in this matter. Send me your e-mail or fax number and I'll fax you a 12 page court document showing the issues that we are appealing.  Just the fact that the Supreme Court has accepted this appeal is VERY SIGNIFICANT in that they normally do not accept 5 out of 6 appeals.  Please help.
Bob Vinikoor
Subject:  Review of the Commission's Rules and Policies Affecting the Conversion to Digital Television.
Submitted by: R.W. ”Sam” Zborowski
ADC Telecommunications Inc. (“ADC”) hereby submits these further comments in the above-referenced proceeding.  As described in greater detail below, these comments address the issue of DTV service replication of the paired analog station signal coverage as requested in the Notice of Proposed Rule Making adopted March 6, 2000 and referenced above.  The comments describe terrain shielded DTV coverage problems and request the Commission to consider authorizing a new class of  "gap-filling" on-channel DTV booster facilities. This proposed class of booster is intended to address terrain shielded areas within the DTV service area of the associated primary DTV station.
1.      Significant DTV coverage gaps exist. Presently, substantial areas that lie within the defined service areas (Longley-Rice noise-limited contour) of many DTV broadcast stations are essentially terrain-shielded from adequate DTV coverage. Viewers who reside in these areas presently can choose to watch a weak NTSC analog signal (worse than CCIR grade 3) in the existing TV transmission environment. These viewers will consider the new DTV service a failure when the analog system is shut down and their locations have DTV signal strength below the receiver threshold. A snowy picture is better than no picture. The problem is particularly acute in mountainous areas but is even significant in areas of moderate hills and rolling terrain. This coverage problem can represent a significant viewer population since small towns naturally tend to become established in valleys as opposed to on hilltops of rugged terrain. This problem cannot be overcome by simply operating the primary DTV stations at higher power levels. While some operators have elected to initiate DTV service at lower than final authorized power, these operations are generally within 3 to 10 dB of their maximum authorized power. Signal level shortfalls of greater than 20 dB are common in valley areas of moderately rugged terrain.
2.      One possible approach to relieve this coverage problem would be for the FCC to authorize “Gap-filling” DTV booster deployments by each part 73 licensee within its own DTV station service area. It should be a relatively simple process to add low power boosters within an existing DTV service area in such a way as to provide improved coverage while adding little additional field strength at the noise-limited contour. For example, a showing could be required to predict less than 1 dB increase at any point on the noise limited contour due to the aggregate field strengths of all planned boosters (added on a power basis rather than on a voltage basis since the signals would be uncorrelated) added to the field strength of the primary DTV station alone. Broadcasters would have to apply boosters carefully to minimize the possibility of interference to viewers that are already served by their primary transmitter. Reference [1] discusses the relevant operational issues for a gap-filling booster deployment including a discussion of mutual interference between the primary DTV transmitter and the booster at viewer locations. A propagation study was performed to predict the mutual interference areas in an example booster deployment followed by a field test of that deployment. Reference [1] concludes that the mutual interference problem is manageable even with first generation DTV receivers. Expected DTV receiver improvements should make the mutual interference issue less problematic in the future. This type of booster deployment can bring coverage benefit to fill in the gaps due to terrain features with little risk of harmful co-channel interference to adjoining service areas.
3.      Part 74 regulations. As of this writing, there are no rules in place to authorize the licensing and standard operation of DTV boosters. Translators and boosters for analog TV service are covered under part 74 of the FCC rules along with LPTV service. Also as of this writing, no regulations are in place to authorize standard DTV operation through translators or by LPTV operators. All of these services will be helpful in providing improved digital signal coverage and more diverse program content to the viewing public than by primary DTV stations alone. In addition, some LPTV operators are seeking to provide different digital services such as internet access using modulation formats other than 8-VSB. UHF delivery of internet service can be particularly beneficial to rural populations that lie outside the geographic coverage areas of  CATV and of telco DSL service.  A comprehensive study of part 74 services is needed relevant to DTV and digital services in general. The technical details, particularly related to interference, and the business and political aspects of the new digital services are likely to raise contentious issues.  Such a study, together with the related petition for rulemaking, comment periods, likely reconsideration and further comment periods may require several years to arrive at final adopted rules for these digital services.
4.      Gap-filling booster rules. A distinction needs to be drawn between the general case of translators and boosters that would extend the coverage of a primary station beyond its coverage contour versus boosters that are deployed to fill coverage gaps within that service area. As noted above, a proceeding that deals with the more general issues of new digital services both within and beyond the primary station DTV service areas will likely take significant time to become adopted rules. The more general case of new part 74 digital operations will introduce a new service area for each new station which merits a comprehensive interference study for each proposed operation. A comprehensive interference analysis procedure is already defined and is performed as part of the existing application process for each part 73 primary DTV station license. The most significant technical issue to be resolved for gap-filling booster licensing is the appropriate out of channel emissions mask required to accommodate adjacent channel operations in the same area. The gap-filling booster emission mask should be somewhat less severe than the primary DTV station mask due to the substantial difference in power levels. The present bi-ennial review of the evolving DTV service provides an opportunity to incorporate suitable gap-filling DTV booster rules much earlier than is possible when dealing with general part 74 revisions for new digital services. Early adoption of gap-filling booster rules will aid the conversion to DTV service by providing DTV signal coverage to viewers who are not presently served by the primary DTV stations. 
5.      Co-channel interference. The proposed 1 dB additional field strength limitation suggested earlier should be no significant factor for distant co-channel stations. Typical spacings between co-channel stations are on the order of 150 miles. Low-power boosters will not likely be situated on tall towers. A typical example may be on a 100 ft tower located on a 200 ft hilltop resulting in 300 ft HAAT. Radio Line of Sight from a 300 ft source is only about 25 miles.
6.      Adjacent-channel interference. Interference to adjacent-channel operation in the same service area is likely to be the most significant limitation to booster deployment. Reference [2] provides a concise review of the planning factors employed for DTV service implementation in both the USA and Canada.
7.      The worst case adjacent channel interference situation is for DTV into upper adjacent NTSC operation. Here, the (undesired) DTV average power can be no more than about 12 dB greater than the peak visual power of the (desired) NTSC signal peak visual power level or    -12 dB D/U ratio to produce no visible interference. An example of a viewer at this threshold would be one located 400 ft directly beyond a booster of 100W ERP which is 25 miles out from an adjacent channel NTSC UHF station transmitting at 600 kW ERP. In this case the viewers receive antenna would be looking directly into the booster output antenna when oriented to receive the distant adjacent channel station. Viewers located closer than 400 ft in front of the booster transmit antenna in this example would experience visible interference to the (desired) NTSC reception. Viewers located to the side of the booster or closer to the primary transmitter should have no problem due to their receive antenna directivity. Viewers located in the valley that is illuminated by the DTV booster would initially have poor reception of the NTSC service and experience severe interference due to the introduction of the adjacent-channel DTV booster. In this case, a pragmatic approach to providing both NTSC and DTV service to the valley in this example would be to introduce boosters for both the DTV and adjacent channel NTSC stations simultaneously. This could possibly be one piece of equipment for both channels. Multichannel boosters are commonly employed in the Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS) and Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service (MMDS) with either analog TV, digital TV or a mix of signal types.
8.      Other cases of adjacent channel interference are less challenging. DTV into lower adjacent NTSC is about -16 dB D/U and DTV into upper or lower adjacent DTV is about -27 dB D/U.
9.      Booster output power. The Sixth Report and Order on Advanced Television Systems and Their Impact upon the Existing Television Service, MM Docket No. 87-268 defined maximum DTV ERP levels for LPTV service but deferred rules authorizing digital service to a later date. The defined maximum ERP limits of 300 W on VHF and 15 kW on UHF are more than adequate for anticipated gap-filling DTV booster deployments. The example booster used in the field test of Reference [1]  developed 100W ERP  and provided good coverage over more than 2 miles with a rather low transmit antenna height. Larger coverage areas may require on the order of 1 kW ERP.
10. Emissions Mask. The Sixth Report and Order (April, 1997) also corrected the description of the emission mask used for DTV planning at that time (the old FCC mask). This mask was defined as a ratio of the power in a 500 kHz measurement bandwidth as a function of frequency versus a reference power level which is the average DTV signal power in the 6 MHz channel. The required attenuation in dB relative to the reference power=46+[(df)**2]/1.44 ;where df is the frequency offset in MHz from channel edge to the point being studied. This attenuation function drops to -71 dB at the start of the second adjacent channel (6 MHz offset) and frequencies beyond.
11. The Memorandum Opinion and Order on Reconsideration of the Sixth Report and Order (February, 1998) stated that laboratory modeling of adjacent channel interference cases suggested a need for an additional 5 dB attenuation of the total out of band emissions in the adjacent channel.  The out of band emissions mask was changed as follows. (1) In the first 500 kHz (0.5 MHz) from channel edge, emissions must be attenuated at least 47 dB from the reference power level, again using 500 kHz measurement bandwidth. (2) for offset frequencies of 0.5 to 6.0 MHz attenuation in dB=11.5(df+3.6) ;where again df is offset frequency from channel edge in MHz. (3) This attenuation function reaches -110 dB at offsets of 6.0 MHz and remains at that level at frequencies beyond 6 MHz offset. The Memorandum Opinion also stated in effect, that while this new emission mask will help to reduce all cases of potential interference, greater attenuation may be required in the event interference is caused to any service.
12. Boosters of 1 kW ERP DTV power would be 17 dB lower than the minimum 50 kW ERP of the primary DTV stations. Most booster deployments would be at 100 W ERP or lower. These power levels suggest that the old FCC mask may be appropriate for the gap-filling booster equipment with the caveat that particular interference cases may need to be corrected with additional filtering.
13. Frequency response issues. The presence of an adjacent channel signal will likely require use of a surface acoustic wave (SAW) filter to provide sufficient rejection of the adjacent channel. A characteristic of SAW filters is that while they present essentially flat amplitude and delay response across the channel, they exhibit closely spaced (in frequency) amplitude and delay ripple that is on the order of +/- 1 dB and +/- 100 nSec. These linear distortions will cause an uncorrected measurement of digital SNR to read in the low 20 dB range. This amount of linear distortion is small compared with the DTV receiver equalizer dynamic range. The majority of the equalizer correction range would still remain available to correct multipath distortion. A small reduction in coverage would be caused by this linear distortion in a single transmitter environment but as discussed in  [1], the booster coverage is more likely limited by mutual interference rather than weak signal level.
14. Conclusion. While the goal of analog coverage replication by digital service is impossible due to the digital threshold effect, on-channel  DTV booster facilities can serve as another tool to help approach the replication goal.  
[1] R.W. ”Sam” Zborowski, “APPLICATION OF ON-CHANNEL BOOSTERS TO FILL GAPS IN DTV BROADCAST COVERAGE”, NAB Broadcast Engineering Proceedings, 2000.
[2] Yiyan Wu, Pierre Bouchard, Bernard Caron, Donald Tyrie and Royce Trenholm, "Canadian Digital Terrestrial Television System Technical Parameters", IEEE Transactions on Broadcasting, Vol. 45, No. 4, December 1999.
Subject: MPEG 4 Report 
From: Des Chaskelson, Research Director, SCRI International (
SCRI International has recently compiled a compendium of current articles and reports on MPEG-4. This 100 page report is available free to SCRI survey respondents ( and/or SCRI Insider Report Subscribers (
Contact for more information.
Parting Shots
By Larry Bloomfield
Before I ascend into the Bully Pulpit, as I have been accused of doing, I’d like to take a moment to express my personal thanks to all our readers and supporters. It was about five or six thanksgivings ago that I came to work the day before the holiday to find that my “position had been eliminated.” Not such a nice way to begin that holiday, but then I really didn’t care too much for the creep that I was working for. Guess I could be thankful for that.


If it weren’t for that event, I probably wouldn’t be writing this and being able to count among my blessings the really great people in this industry that Tech-Notes has give me the opportunity and privilege of knowing, one way or another. We truly have a great deal to be thankful for…   All of you are numbered in what I am thankful for.


Now to the Pulpit!  I have several good acquaintances in corporate management at some very large broadcast concerns, so it pains me to take the stance that I feel is right on the issues I’m going to address here. They say that absolute power corrupts absolutely and I believe that is true of purpose and intent when it comes to the way our industry is going on some issues.


When it comes to ownership, I recall when no one could own more than seven AM, seven FM and seven TV stations. The era of mama and papa stations flourished in those days. It wasn’t uncommon for the folks in a town to know the owners of their broadcast facilities and see them at the Rotary club, American Legion barbecues or in the 4th of July parade and leading the Toys for Tots program with the local Marine recruiter at Christmas time.


Today those same stations are owned by faceless entities in New York, Los Angeles or elsewhere. In some cases all that remains of what was once the art deco studios and offices is a satellite dish at the transmitter site feeding a mindless automation system. Try and get one of those to help in a local fund raiser for the Optimists or Lion’s club. The corporate bottom line has replaced community involvement and all in the name of progress.


As a techno geek, I love my toys and think technological innovation is the cat’s pajamas. (Oh God! I’m dating myself!) I think it is neat to have satellite radio with its “CD quality” available in nearly every corner of the country. The competition is good, but competition with what? Most all the terrestrial radio stations have been gobbled up by a few big-city, fast-talking, suede-shoe, fat-cat bean counters. In some towns and cities, nearly all the outlets are owned by one conglomerate.


They say justice is blind. I see lady justice on the opening and closing billboards any of several TV shows, blindfolded, holding the scales of justice. If justice is the balance of what is good and fair then these scales should be somewhere on the floor and not even in her hands anymore. Why? How can it be fair to cheat the hundreds of local communities dotting our country side from having their very own “local” broadcast station? It was through the good old Yankee competitive spirit that the broadcast industry was built.


I guess the thing that bothers me the most is that this seems to be the way television is going too. Buy up a bunch of stations and run them all from one location – they call it central casting; a fancy word for doing everything out of one plant for a handful of markets. The sad part is that sponsors and viewers are unwittingly buying into this whole scenario – like sheep being let down the primrose path to I don’t know what.


So with all this consolidation, what becomes of the staffs at these various stations? I did a story on one GM touting how the cut in personnel would save the new group owner thousands of dollars. He sang that song until he found out that is was his finally too.


there are companies who own thousands of AM and FM stations. The cap that says no one entity may own television stations that reach more than thirty-five percent of American households, irrespective of how many stations it takes to get there is now being challenged and expected to be either raised or removed all together.


The one thing we can be guaranteed of in life is change and change we will get.  As I pick up my Thanksgiving day folk, being joined by part of my family that traveled nearly a thousand miles to be with us here on the Central Coast of Oregon, I will be thankful for change, because it would be very monotonous if we didn’t have that factor to deal with.
In closing, and totally unrelated, I loved the comment that Ellen De Generes made during the Emmys: "I'm in a unique position as host because, think about it, what would bug the Taliban more than seeing a gay woman in a suit surrounded by Jews?" 
Let’s do more than just “bug” the Taliban.


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