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Stations don't want cable to downconvert HDTV to DTV - Page 2  

post #31 of 287
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoIrish
Guys, I read the article prior to my post. My point was that the cable imdustry, at least as far as my knowledge and reading knew, had not requested this specific ability. Certainly not for the purpose being extrapolated through the chain of concerns in the post.
Up to this point, I haven't said or implied that cable was asking for the specific ability being discussed. All I said was that the B&C article said the bill allows for it.

Quote:
I know congress never makes a mistake, but maybe the broadcasters spin in the article isn't entirely accurate, the article itself is not accurate or, congress is acting in a fashion not consistent with cable lobbying.
Any or all could be true.

Quote:
Everything I had read up to this point related specifically to analog conversion for the express reasons I stated. That's why I sought additional sources for this being requested by the cable industry as was inferred in the posts leading up to this point.
Ok, I'll finally bite.

As much as you may be right that the 'cable industry' hasn't specifically asked for the ability to downres local DTV/HDTV, it does not seem too far out of line with many of the cableco's existing policy of downresing HD. It's common knowledge that Cox, Insight, and Adelphia, among other cable providers, have consistently downresed HD.

I guess the bottom line is, why would it be included in a Senate bill unless someone wanted it? As you say, it could always be some kind of mistake, but doesn't that seem a little unlikely?
post #32 of 287
Quote:
Originally Posted by foxeng
Now, if a cable system wants to offer an analog SD version, a digital SD version as well as a HD version to its subs, (all three) then I have no problem with that.
Agreed 100%. Thanks for clarifying the issue.
post #33 of 287
Still confused here:

HD & HD downrezed to analog - OK
HD & HD downrezed to analog and DTV - OK
HD & HD downrezed to DTV - Not OK

I don't understand the logic. Is the absence of analog the issue?
post #34 of 287
Quote:
Originally Posted by TVOD
Still confused here:

HD & HD downrezed to analog - OK
HD & HD downrezed to analog and DTV - OK
HD & HD downrezed to DTV - Not OK

I don't understand the logic. Is the absence of analog the issue?
No.

All that advocates of HDTV want is HD from local stations passed as received. Whatever else cableco's do is of no matter.

For example:

If cableco's want to take an HD signal and downconvert it to SDTV or EDTV, fine, as long a separate channel is dedicated for native HDTV, without image quality reduction.

If cableco's want to take an HD signal and downconvert to analog TV, fine, as long a separate channel is dedicated for native HD, without image quality reduction.

The issue is, there is only so much bandwidth available. If cableco's are allowed to downconvert HD to whatever they want, they may not provide native HD.
post #35 of 287
If cable does down res the HD signal to 480i and provide the HD to customers with HD sets would the 480i channel be a center cut or letterbox? Would the station have a choice? The station I work for feeds local cable companies both our analog and digital signals via fiber. If we do the down conversion the cable company would not be doing it. We could make the letterbox vs. center cut decision and have local branding at the correct position on both feeds if we chose to do a center cut. If cable does the down conversion with a center cut we may be forced to keep the local branding within the 4:3 frame. What will DirecTV and Dish do after the analog shut down? We are presently up on both with HDTV LIL.

Cable systems in outlying areas get both feeds off the air presently and would have no choice but to do the down conversion of the HD feed. There are still many analog cable customers and there probably will still be in 2009. Prohibiting the cable company from providing an analog feed in addition to the HD one would disenfranchise many viewers and can not be in the stations best interest.
post #36 of 287
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rory Boyce
If cable does down res the HD signal to 480i and provide the HD to customers with HD sets would the 480i channel be a center cut or letterbox?
I've wondered about that with OTA converters. How are they going to handle center cut vs letterbox? There should be a provision for metadata in the ATSC stream to control 4:3 downconversion. Funny how much concern there was for 5.1 to 2.0 audio metadata, but not for video.

So on the original subject:

HD and HD downconverted to DTV= OK?
Only HD downconverted to DTV = Not OK?

The second statement is obvious, it's the first one I'm confused about. I still don't see the connection between downconverting to SD DTV and not carrying the HD channel. In most markets you could probably fit all the SD DTV channels on one 6mhz channel.

D* and E* will have to downconvert to SD DTV as they don't have an analog service. If they are allowed to do it, cable can argue they would be at a disadvantage.
post #37 of 287
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rory Boyce
If cable does down res the HD signal to 480i and provide the HD to customers with HD sets would the 480i channel be a center cut or letterbox? Would the station have a choice? The station I work for feeds local cable companies both our analog and digital signals via fiber. If we do the down conversion the cable company would not be doing it. We could make the letterbox vs. center cut decision and have local branding at the correct position on both feeds if we chose to do a center cut. If cable does the down conversion with a center cut we may be forced to keep the local branding within the 4:3 frame. What will DirecTV and Dish do after the analog shut down? We are presently up on both with HDTV LIL.
All good questions. Questions that no one has even posed beyond forums like this.

Obviously if D* and E* (and many smaller cablecos) are getting both analog and digital OTA and the analog OTA signal goes away, then digital is the only choice.

Speaking strickly in the 480i 4:3 world of most TV's, my preference would be to provide the digital signal in OAR to "SD" subs and let the consumer be able to resize the picture to whatever he wants, zoom, letterbox, center cut. My personal preference would be to leave it OAR, that solves the branding issue and allows safe title to move from the 4:3 area to the 16:9 area opening up the center of the screen. But on all of those 4:3 screens, I fear too many people will complain with a forced letterbox and 4:3 safe title will be with us for many years after the transition. I say this because your smaller DTV only sets in the 27 inch range are NOT 16:9 but 4:3 and even though they have OTA tuners in them and you can zoom and letterbox, etc, they are still 4:3 screens. Seriously, how many people with actually USE those functions? Average Joe Sixpack wants to be able to turn his TV on, change channels and enjoy. The LAST thing he wants is to have to make a program by program or channel by channel choice of AR for his 4:3 screen.

IMHO, STUPID MOVE BY CEA. It will hobble the industry for years to come because those people will squeal loudly and stations will conform to their wishes. CEA again shows they are in it for the money only, not for the consumer and sure as hell NOT willing to help the broadcaster.
post #38 of 287
Cable stations are just dragging their feet on the changeover to HDTV, plain and simple. The manufacturers and the retail outlets have done their part by really pumping the sales of HDTVs last year, but now these guys don't want to kick in and devote the bandwidth needed for HDTV. I imagine it was probably a similar situation back in the day of the changeover from black-and-white to color TV.

As for the wisdom of Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska....isn't this the same guy who wanted to extend indecency rules to cable channels like HBO and such?
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...400290_pf.html
post #39 of 287
Quote:
Originally Posted by cavalierlwt
Cable stations are just dragging their feet on the changeover to HDTV, plain and simple.
Despite what many consumers believe, the changeover is to DTV not HDTV. You'll notice that just about every piece of legislation, or proposed legislation that is HDTV friendly, stops short of any real mandated commitment to the format. That's the result of just about every lobbying entity, although frequently on the opposite side of every major proposed issue, have a common interest in not tying their hands by requiring HDTV standards or commitments to deliver the format.
post #40 of 287
Quote:
Originally Posted by fredfa
Of course. You have nailed the hypocrisy, CP95.

The stations also want legislation that would require cable operators to carry all digital signals the stations can churn out.
Hey! Once Cable and satellite subscribers realize that they aren't getting all the channels that broadcasters are giving away for free to the OTA viewers, they'll run out en-mass to buy rooftop antennas.

Now, back to my previous project....writing to Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny. :rolleyes:
post #41 of 287
Funny thing is, this legislation would probably affect very few broadcaster/cable relationships, the few based on must carry. The majority, and all the ones with quality programming, are based on retransmission consent, which allows the two entities to do what they want, as long as the minimum standards of the laws are met.
post #42 of 287
Broadcasters: "Downconverting HDTV to SD does a disservice to every one of your constituents that purchased an HDTV to watch the Super Bowl and other HD programming by the networks."

Government: "Agree, so we should write legislation that insures that when a network sends out HDTV programming, no part of the distribution chain will be allowed to reduce its resolution or diminish its quality in any preventable way."

Broadcasters: "Uh, no. Economic realities compel some broadcasters to diminish the HD feed to allow the carriage of additional, revenue producing programming on added sub-channels to maximize profitability."

Cable: "We have the same economic realities and the same mandate from our shareholders to maximize profit."

Government: "I see, so it's important - for the good of our constituents - to determine at what point we should allow the deterioration of the HDTV signal?"

Broadcasters & Cablecos:" Exactly, now you understand. Let's go have lunch and hash this out."

Government: "We just saved the Super Bowl!"
post #43 of 287
I may be naive here, but I think the broadcasters are being a bit paranoid if they believe that cablecos would actually not send the HD feed, regardless of whatever else they're doing. It would clearly be business suicide to piss off a growing audience that also tends to be higher-income and, more importantly, higher-spending. Why send your best customers away?

As I commented in my response to an HD Beat post, I can think of one possible reason here. My old bedroom analog set is hooked up to an SD digital box. If you currently tune to an HD channel on that box, you get audio but no video. So maybe the idea here is to give setups like that a taste of the HD channel universe they're missing. But as someone else commented, the cablecos haven't said what they would use this capability for, so who knows?
post #44 of 287
In 2009 with the analog shutdown, most major stations will be HD on their main channel. At the moment, the 4:3 material is upconverted from the SD feed, and the branding is placed within the 4:3 safe area. After the analog shutoff, it won't make much sense to be switching a SD feed anymore, at least for very long. What will happen with the branding at that point on 4:3 material? Will it be in the safe 4:3 area as it is now, and change on a program basis? NBC uses Miranda downconverters that can be changed between letterbox and centercut with flags in the video.

Another problem is downconverting those stretch-o-vision HD channels, which occurs now on some ABC O&Os. That seems the worst of all worlds as it won't fill the screen in either direction with letterbox mode, and loses the sides in center cut.

We can only guess the market penetration of HD sets when analog shutoff occurs, but there will still probably be alot of 4:3 screens out there. The question of whether cable companies can downconvert to just analog or also to DTV seems like a minor issue compared to other downconversion problems. Stations have had complete control of what happens with the 4:3 image, and will probably continue so if they feed the cable and satellite companies with a separate SD feed. Stations that don't will be at the mercy of the the cable company. Viewers using OTA HD to SD converters will be on their own.

All this could have been avoided with a flagging system such as Miranda uses. At some point when all the 4:3 screens are gone it will become obsolete, but it would sure help with the transistion. We're 3 years off, not a bad time to start thinking about it. Without that, I think that letterbox will become the norm.

Will FiOS and Lightspeed also have the same limitations? Looks like the lobbyists and lawyers are going to have some busy years.

I agree with BobColby. In three years it would be suicide for a provider not to offer as much HD as possible. It seems the logical solution is that cable carry the 19.3 Mbs the same way it broadcast, whether it's 1 HD channel or 5 SD, or any combination between. Anything less than that is lowering quality.
post #45 of 287
Quote:
Originally Posted by TVOD
The question of whether cable companies can downconvert to just analog or also to DTV seems like a minor issue compared to other downconversion problems. Stations have had complete control of what happens with the 4:3 image, and will probably continue so if they feed the cable and satellite companies with a separate SD feed. Stations that don't will be at the mercy of the the cable company.
Problem is, they don't, for the most part.

Most of the Cedar Rapids stations have a direct link with the local Mediacom office, but that only covers Cedar Rapids. There are three other big cities in our far-flung market which are 27, 55 and 74 miles from Cedar Rapids, plus numerous small-town cable companies and co-ops. For the most part, they just use an antenna and pluck the signal off air.

Oddly enough, I've heard the satellite companies use off-air antennas as well. They just receive the broadcast signal and uplink it to the satellite for retransmission to their local-into-local customers.
post #46 of 287
Quote:
Originally Posted by dline

Oddly enough, I've heard the satellite companies use off-air antennas as well. They just receive the broadcast signal and uplink it to the satellite for retransmission to their local-into-local customers.
I don't think it's really that odd, in fact I believe it's the most common way satcos get their local signals. Dish and DirecTV both get the locals from OTA in the SF market.
post #47 of 287
Quote:
Originally Posted by kenglish
Hey! Once Cable and satellite subscribers realize that they aren't getting all the channels that broadcasters are giving away for free to the OTA viewers, they'll run out en-mass to buy rooftop antennas.
I thought D* WAS carrying the entire ATSC signal of a station in their HD LIL markets. Can someone who has HD LIL confirm or deny that?
post #48 of 287
Quote:
Originally Posted by foxeng
I thought D* WAS carrying the entire ATSC signal of a station in their HD LIL markets. Can someone who has HD LIL confirm or deny that?
Not D* in Detroit. They only carry the main HD channel for the Big 4, and do not carry the subchannels 2 of the 4 use.
post #49 of 287
I haven't read of any market where a satco is carrying more than the main feed of the Big 4.

In some markets not even all of the full Big 4 is carried.

There was a rumor of NY having a PBS station carried by DirecTV by that proved to be false.
post #50 of 287
Quote:
Originally Posted by TVOD
I've wondered about that with OTA converters. How are they going to handle center cut vs letterbox? There should be a provision for metadata in the ATSC stream to control 4:3 downconversion. Funny how much concern there was for 5.1 to 2.0 audio metadata, but not for video.
There is metadata for many aspect ratio conversions in the ATSC standard. It's called Active Format Description (AFD) and allows the tuner to center cut to 4:3, letterbox, pillarbox, and compromise at 14:9. Most stations should just broadcast a 16:9 signal all the time, pillarbox when necessary, and flag it with necessary AFD or bar data. I don't know how long ago AFD was added to the ATSC standard. It should start showing on ATSC tuners soon.

http://www.atsc.org/standards/a_53e.pdf - look at pages 34-36 (pg 32-33 "bar data" to control letter/pillarboxing)

AFD goes a little farther than DVD players. A DVD player basically letterboxes or center cuts to 4:3 (center cut is seldom used) as long as it's not set to wide display. If the DVD is flagged "16:9 no pan&scan (aka center cut)", then the player letterboxes. If the DVD is set to "no letterbox", then the player cuts the sides of the picture off.
post #51 of 287
Is this part of some money grab by Congress? If this change goes thru, Congress may hold back some/all of the money it had intended to spend as voucher money for digital tuners.

Sounds to me like the first part is the most important since it involves money - the cablecos need to spend money on STBs for every household that has a non-digital TV connected directly to cable. The second part just doesn't make sense.
post #52 of 287
Quote:
Originally Posted by ReplayJanitor
There is metadata for many aspect ratio conversions in the ATSC standard. It's called Active Format Description (AFD) and allows the tuner to center cut to 4:3, letterbox, pillarbox, and compromise at 14:9.
Thanks for the info. It looks like AFD was added as early as 2002, but other documents in 2004 refer to it as new. I wonder how many stations actually use it?
post #53 of 287
Quote:
Originally Posted by TVOD
Thanks for the info. It looks like AFD was added as early as 2002, but other documents in 2004 refer to it as new. I wonder how many stations actually use it?
I'll bet it's somewhere between zero and none (although I really hope I'm wrong about this.) Some networks are trying to re-invent the wheel and dream up their own way to do it, and that really annoys me, as it means there is more than one thing that TV equipment vendors need to build into their products.
post #54 of 287
Quote:
Originally Posted by CPanther95[b
Broadcasters:[/b] "Uh, no. Economic realities compel some broadcasters to diminish the HD feed to allow the carriage of additional, revenue producing programming on added sub-channels to maximize profitability."

Cable: "We have the same economic realities and the same mandate from our shareholders to maximize profit."
Every day at the grocery store, you see products on the shelves that have gotten smaller and hold less, but the price has remained the same (or has actually gone up.) We complain about this, but that's the way they do business. Think of those products as TV programs.

Now, what would you think about a grocery store that empties the package and puts it into a smaller box to fit more boxes on the shelf? Most of the contents is there, but they're a bit sloppy and a lot ends up getting lost of the floor. Is this acceptable? Think of them as the cable and satellite companies that "groom" their streams. They all do it on their SD channels. Now they do it on their HD channels too.

I just thought this might offer a different perspective for discussion.
post #55 of 287
Quote:
Originally Posted by hphase
Now, what would you think about a grocery store that empties the package and puts it into a smaller box to fit more boxes on the shelf? Most of the contents is there, but they're a bit sloppy and a lot ends up getting lost of the floor. Is this acceptable? Think of them as the cable and satellite companies that "groom" their streams.
I think from our perspective, it isn't acceptable whether it was done at the grocery store or at the distributor.
post #56 of 287
Quote:
Originally Posted by foxeng
The only new news in this that Congress is looking into this. This has been going back and forth for several years between cable and the broadcasters. Congress' take historically has been to NOT allow cable to downconvert HD to SD. Their take is, that if a station offers HD, then the cableco needs to provide it in HD, end of story.

Now, if a cable sysem wants to offer an analog SD version, a digital SD version as well as a HD version to its subs, (all three) then I have no problem with that.

I agree, cable should offer all three.
post #57 of 287
Quote:
Originally Posted by CPanther95
I think from our perspective, it isn't acceptable whether it was done at the grocery store or at the distributor.
I don't like it either, but the TV station should be able to create the program it wants to deliver to other cable and sat distributors. (And we are also able to complain about what they give us!)

Cable and Sat, as mere utilities (when they want to be treated as such) shouldn't be able to "step on" the product as they deliver it. (Sorry for the drug dealer reference...)

I would think that HBO and Showtime feel the same way, but they may have negotiated something else with these providers.
post #58 of 287
That's an excellent metaphor as that is exactly what they would be doing, diluting the quality of the product(channel) to get more product(more channels) sold.
post #59 of 287
Quote:
Originally Posted by hphase
I don't like it either, but the TV station should be able to create the program it wants to deliver to other cable and sat distributors. (And we are also able to complain about what they give us!)
That's fine, but they shouldn't use the "for the good of the HDTV consumer" argument to bolster their position as long as they want to retain the right to screw those consumers themselves.
post #60 of 287
At the moment the majority of the public will take quantity over quality, and D* is doing just fine. I'm still waiting for a "quality comes first" sales campaign by a pusher ... errr provider, with a circle slash of HD-Lite.

So would it be OK for a cable company to carry a HD channel in analog SD only - no HD and no DTV? We all want the HD channel carried, but I still fail to understand the DTV vs analog issue. It really sounds more like HD vs SD.
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