CBS, multicasting and HD's future - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 75 Old 06-05-2004, 06:56 AM - Thread Starter
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While this Broadcasting&Cable story certainly runs counter to what I have believed about multicasting, it is worth reading.
(Some interesting HD comments come at the end.)
----
Get With the Program
CBS touts multicasting as part of affiliates' digital future
By Paige Albiniak -- Broadcasting & Cable, 6/7/2004

CBS has a dream. A digital dream. It wants its affiliates to look at their spectrum in a new way. At last week's affiliates meeting, the Tiffany network proposed that stations add multicasting to their digital future.

CBS has always been the network leader in high-definition television, but this is the first time it has suggested multicasting as an important part of its digital strategy.

"We want to explore strategies to exploit all digital opportunities together," Executive Vice President Martin Franks told station executives during the recent Las Vegas convention.

Those options include multicasting, video-on-demand, and Web content. CBS is also asking its affiliates to consider the proposal made by Emmis Communications Chairman Jeff Smulyan at the National Association of Broadcasters' conference in April. He hopes broadcasters in local markets will team up to offer a low-cost wireless alternative to cable.

CBS's digital stance has changed with the times.

Technology now allows stations to simultaneously broadcast in high-definition and standard digital format. Some CBS affiliates are already doing so. They broadcast alternative sports games or breaking news on digital channels they can't accommodate on their main feed, says Bob Lee, chairman of the CBS affiliate board and president of WDBJ Roanoke, Va. "That kind of programming puts the viewer back in the driver's seat."

The selections that CBS stations would offer on digital tiers could "help promote network priorities," Franks says. Such enhanced programming might be the making of Survivor, the history of the Grammys, and value-added sports content.

To date, some 11 CBS affiliates air the NCAA basketball tournament in high-definition, with three other games offered on the stations' multiplex tiers. With so many viewers wanting access to all tournament games, cable operators are willing to carry the package.

It's that kind of programming that Franks is pushing affiliates to provide.

If cable operators are offered a "mix of compelling local and national shows," he says, they will be more likely to carry all of the stations' digital offerings.

If CBS affiliates sign on with Smulyan's plan, they won't have to worry about cable carriage for their multiplexed tiers. Smulyan envisions local stations joining forces to broadcast their signals by way of custom-made receivers that sit on viewers' TV sets, neatly bypassing cable operators.

CBS isn't the only network trying to influence what affiliates do with their digital spectrum.

NBC is pushing its affiliates to pay for a network-supplied digital weather service; some stations are more enthusiastic than others. Fox, by contrast, wants to program all of its affiliates' digital spectrum, say CBS group heads.

Besides asking affiliates to consider the new digital plan, Franks wants them to do a better job of exploiting CBS's high-definition offerings, which include all of prime time, most marquee sports, the Grammys, and Emmy-winning soap opera The Young and the Restless.

Says Franks, "CBS HD was a key factor in our retransmission negotiations with major cable operators, such as Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Cablevision, and Adelphia."

That's why Franks urged affiliates to "air it: flip the HD switch. Promote it: How many stations have aired a single HD promo not provided by the network? Sell it: Get your sales guys to do a better job of selling industry-leading CBS HD."


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post #2 of 75 Old 06-05-2004, 09:47 AM
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{shaking head} ... Let me count the ways one can shoot one's self in the foot :D

And to think, I was almost feeling positive again after watching the CEA conference highlights on HDNet lastnight.

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post #3 of 75 Old 06-05-2004, 10:55 AM
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It's unfortunate that even CBS has gone to the dark side.

How this relates to must-carry rules on cable has always confused me. My understanding (please correct me if I'm wrong) is that EVENTUALLY, when all analog shuts off, if there is no must-carry for multiple subchannels on cable, then only the primary channel would need to be carried by cablecos. Which makes the incentive for subcahnnels disappear. However, until analog shuts off, with no multiple must-carry, there is no reason for cablecos. to carry the digital instead of the analog version of a station. Am I even close on this?

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post #4 of 75 Old 06-05-2004, 11:10 AM - Thread Starter
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In terms of cable or DBS, you are right, sketchy9.
But apparently some (led by Jeff Smulyan) believe that a significant percentage of households can be persuaded to erect antennas to pull down a collection of heretofore cable/satellite-only channels on the side channels of OTA.


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post #5 of 75 Old 06-05-2004, 11:18 AM
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Calling Rich Peterson. Calling Rich Peterson.

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post #6 of 75 Old 06-05-2004, 11:31 AM
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Shortly after the broadcast flag was approved ABC and NBC announced multi-casting plans. Since I was wearing my tinfoil hat that day I predicted CBS would be next, since they no longer had to threaten to withhold their HDTV content to blackmail the FCC.

It has taken longer than I thought. ;)

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post #7 of 75 Old 06-05-2004, 11:37 AM
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I am surprised that they are endorsing the Emmis multicast. It could be that the CBS Affiliates Board has told CBS, here is the deal, take it or leave it.

Bob Lee, who is mentioned in the article, is a nice guy and a VERY LARGE HD supporter. He also posts on AVSForum and his station does do 3 streams, one 1080i, one 480 news channel and one very low res radar channel. His 1080i doesn't look bad (I can see it here) and I will quite often watch his CBS when my local CBS screws up (which can be a lot).

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post #8 of 75 Old 06-05-2004, 12:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by foxeng
His 1080i doesn't look bad (I can see it here) and I will quite often watch his CBS when my local CBS screws up (which can be a lot).
OMG!!! foxeng admits he watches an out-of-market signal and a CBS one at that ... where's the NAB police when you need'm ;) :D

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post #9 of 75 Old 06-05-2004, 01:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by HDTVChallenged
OMG!!! foxeng admits he watches an out-of-market signal and a CBS one at that ... where's the NAB police when you need'm ;) :D

HDC
Settle down. Settle down. I have always admitted I watch out of market. That is why I spent all that money on my OTA setup.

How do you think I can directly comment on what WRAL and WRAZ have on air and make the comments I do about the waivers?

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post #10 of 75 Old 06-05-2004, 01:30 PM
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As foxeng stated, Bob Lee and his station do an excellent job here in Roanoke. If it were not for his station leading the way in HD for our area (and actively promoting it on-air) I don't think our local NBC or ABC would be up in HD.

Bob also does participate in this forum on the local Roanoke thread and emails all of the viewers on HD events etc. (and responds directly to any emails sent his way). Example: Recently he emailed everyone to tell us that they would carry the presidential address on the .2 subchannel since CBS network was not going to pre-empt programming. He kept us up to date daily on the NCAA tournament schedule etc. I can't imagine their being a more first class affiliate GM.
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post #11 of 75 Old 06-05-2004, 02:19 PM
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CBS has always been very committed to HDTV and to preserving the quality of their HD signal on their owned & operated stations. If CBS is pushing multicasting, I suspect that they will implement it in a way that maintains good image quality for HD -- at least on their own stations. So I personally doubt very much that this is an indication that the sky is falling.

Oh, and regarding must-carry and multicasting -- it may or may not apply only to the primary channel, since the FCC hasn't actually made that particular decision yet.
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post #12 of 75 Old 06-05-2004, 02:47 PM
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I am sorry guys but all these subchannels is the death of top notch HD PQ from the networks.
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post #13 of 75 Old 06-05-2004, 03:09 PM
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Lets wait an see.

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post #14 of 75 Old 06-05-2004, 05:21 PM
 
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19.3 is barely adequate for 1080i.
Drop it down to do multicasting, and you either have terrible blocky artifacts
or you have to pre-filter (and blur) the image to avoid the blockiness.

Quantity rules over quality in the broadcast industry.
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post #15 of 75 Old 06-05-2004, 05:50 PM - Thread Starter
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re HDHTPC:

"...Quantity rules over quality in the broadcast industry."

Just the broadcast industry?
Been to WalMart lately?
Or seen a Betamax unit working?
Let's not limit the slam to broadcasters.


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post #16 of 75 Old 06-05-2004, 06:06 PM
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Unfortunately, I have yet to see a station that multi-casts (like our ABC affiliate here in Phoenix) agree to do a 'live' test where they broadcast MNF one week without multi-casting and the next week with, so we can determine for ourselves whether or not there is a degradation of PQ. One can argue the merits of numbers and decide mulit-casting degrades PQ, but one can also say that about the 19.4, 1080i (vs 1080p), etc., in the first place. I can't disagree with the nay-sayers, but I also think MNF looks pretty darned good. Granted, it may not look as good as the NFL on CBS sometimes, but then there are other aspects (720p vs 1080i, day vs night, older equipment vs newer, etc.) that can affect PQ.

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post #17 of 75 Old 06-05-2004, 07:15 PM
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Comcast here says they get their HD feeds not OTA, but via fibre from the stations. Hopefully this means PQ for HD cable won't be compromised by the multicasting. Then again, QAM has its own shortcomings...

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post #18 of 75 Old 06-06-2004, 04:57 AM
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MNF on the ABC affikiate in Philly looks terrible and they have two subchannels. I have all the evidence I need on that issue. I don't think that Congress granted this free spectrum to the broadcast industry so they can compete with cable and DBS. It will be interesting to see what thery do on this subject given the deficit.
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post #19 of 75 Old 06-06-2004, 08:51 AM
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Just wondering if the FreeView has a better chances than USDTV?

Since FreeView was very sucessful in England will it work in U.S.?

It would be nice to get free FOX news channel and some other goodys assuming they would be put on non HDTV station "Spanish or Ind, where they have extra digital load."

Any ideas?

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post #20 of 75 Old 06-06-2004, 09:18 AM
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Quote:
Comcast here says they get their HD feeds not OTA, but via fibre from the stations. Hopefully this means PQ for HD cable won't be compromised by the multicasting. Then again, QAM has its own shortcomings...
Recall an earlier thread in which foxeng pointed out that, because of the way stations pipe signals via fiber to cable head ends, rather than being able to deliver a full 19.3 for the main 1080i/720p non-multicast signal, cable companies must accept--and even want--the same reduced-bitrate signal being multicast OTA. Believe he pointed out it requires a separate ~$40k encoder to pipe cable head ends the same higher-bandwidth satellite-downlinked signal they receive before multicast encoding. Naturally, since I can only get cable signals, I'd also hope otherwise. (Maybe that's another 'cable-improvement' idea for this current- thread topic. That is, cable companies, as SOP, share encoder costs so stations can send them pre-multicast 1080i at 19.3 Mbps. That way, ~75 percent of a station's viewers in the region, cable customers, could continue enjoying non-multicast 1080i--while simultaneously enjoying flying pigs in the area, a recent clever Time Warner Cable ad promoting cable service). In other words, even though broadcasters could, suspect they'll let cable companies deliver superior 1080i than what they're broadcasting when pigs learn to fly. -- John
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post #21 of 75 Old 06-06-2004, 09:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by fredfa
Or seen a Betamax unit working?
My old built-like-a-tank monophonic SuperBeta deck still works fine ... I've just gotten bored with the programs I recorded on it. :D

HDC
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post #22 of 75 Old 06-06-2004, 10:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by HDTVChallenged
My old built-like-a-tank monophonic SuperBeta deck still works fine ... I've just gotten bored with the programs I recorded on it. :D

HDC
I got two that still work. One is a front loader and the other is a top loader. My 20+ year old tapes on those old machines STILL look better than new VHS tapes and machines. It is amazing.

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post #23 of 75 Old 06-06-2004, 10:45 AM
 
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And 99% of the world uses WinTel PCs rather than Sparc Unix...

BTW: Multicasting seems to "harm" 720p less than 1080i.
15Mbit/sec 720p@30fps looks OK, but
15Mbit/sec 1080i@30fps is starting to suffer.
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post #24 of 75 Old 06-06-2004, 10:55 AM
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Yep. 15 Mbit/sec 720p@30 is sending less than half the pixels of 15Mbit 1080i@30, assuming your encoder properly does reverse telecine. And it is more likely to be @24 for even more savings. Where this falls down is when the original source is 60i or 60p and has to be sent as 60p.

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post #25 of 75 Old 06-06-2004, 11:17 AM
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KCBS-DT here in L.A. can't show CSI:Miami without breakups and pixellations NOW with no subchannel.
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post #26 of 75 Old 06-07-2004, 07:02 AM
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Quote:
Such enhanced programming might be the making of Survivor, the history of the Grammys, and value-added sports content.
This sounds like it came from NBC. Produce a show and then broadcast 10 different infomercials disguised as shows.

At some point most people will be watching broadcast TV and surfing the net on the same piece of equipment. Can broadcast TV really compete cost effectively with web content by trying to be more like the web? Networks should be asking themselves, how do we distinguish ourselves from web content when viewers can seemlessly go from internet to broadcast TV? With the networks' track record, I surely hope they aren't relying on content alone. Speaking for myself, a flawless 1080i image with no pixilation would draw me in. No network logos, station call letters (WCAU - Philly), or other bugs would help keep me as a viewer. The direction broadcast TV and signal providers are headed, all they need to do is add "Ctrl+Alt+Del" to completely eliminate any enjoyment out of sitting back, relaxing, and enjoying a show.
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post #27 of 75 Old 06-07-2004, 09:48 AM
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You guys have brought up an interesting point. I'm still trying to figure out just what all this "high-value-gotta-have" multicasted/pay programming is going to be. The networks and broadcast TV seem to have enough trouble filling in their schedules with useful programming with just the one analog channel ... and do we really *need* wireless cable? oh well, what do I know :D

HDC
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post #28 of 75 Old 06-07-2004, 12:00 PM
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And the hits just keep on coming...

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post #29 of 75 Old 06-07-2004, 10:12 PM
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> The networks and broadcast TV seem to have enough trouble filling in their schedules with useful programming with just the one analog channel ... and do we really *need* wireless cable?

But, somehow, viewers get all excited over basic cable channels that offer one or two "marquee" programs mixed in with 166 hours/week of filler and junk.
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post #30 of 75 Old 06-08-2004, 12:19 AM
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HD-DVDs won't have multicasting. Let the stations compete with that format
for a while.

The TV industry is getting ready for a repeat of the 2 way TV debacle.

I want HDTV 'cause I'm nearsighted !
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