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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I contact my local NBC affiliate (an engineer that I have been passing e-mails back a forth with - and a super nice guy with great explainations) KPRC in Houston, about multicasting. This was his response:

Quote:
As far as the HD bandwidth is concerned, I will tell you that most HD programming can be compressed on 17 Mbps, which is what we are doing. It is only going to be a small fraction of the content that requires more than 17, perhaps around 5% of the content. Now to make matters worse, the material that requires more than 17 Mbps, is also likely to require more than 19Mbps, so even if you give all 19Mpbs to the HD channel, you will still have about 2~3% of you content which will pixelate or will noticeably be limited by compression. Depending of your ability to distinguish the compression artifacts this is going to be very similar to what you currently get on any movie channel, no matter how premium it is through digital cable, DSS or any kind of digital distribution.


I am still trying to come up with a way to switch our bandwidth alotment during the different program day hours to maximize the HD if there is no Bad weather in the area, and to insert 1 HD and 2 SD channels when there is no HD native program.
I think this is a step in the "right" direction. At least it's on his mind and he seems to "care" enough about getting HD viewers the best picture possible. Just the simple fact that he is "trying to come up with a way to switch their bandwidth alotment during the different program day hours to maximize HD" is awesome. Now, if only ABC and PBS could figure that out too, we'd be in business.


Just thought I'd pass it along.
 

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Here's a scary, if out of context, quote from the CBS affiliate's filing. For some reason I can't cut and paste so I had to type it.
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Both [Congress & FCC] chose not to require broadcasters to provide a minimum of high definition programming, but the defacto result if broadcaster's multicast services are denied access to cable subscribers will be a uniform gravitation toward HDTV services with little or now multicasting, to the public's detriment. ...
We used to think of CBS as the champion of full bit rate HDTV. And CBS extorted the FCC into mandating the broadcast flag by claiming they would not do HDTV without it.


Now instead they want the right to sell sub-channel space and get it carried for free on cable by invoking must-carry.


I don't think we should help CBS fight off that dangerous "uniform gravitation toward HDTV services" that we probably all worry about so much. ;)


- Tom
 

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These are a filing by a group of affiliates, not the CBS network I believe.


This is a filing from the "CBS Television Network Affiliates Association."


Sounds like a group of non O&O affiliates to me, looking to make some more money by mulitcasting a WB station in areas that don't have an affiliate.
 

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Chet,


I don't know if you noticed, but our ABC affiliate here in Houston has added a second sub-channel ( Weather radar ). I just noticed it yesterday. The only thing I watched on ABC last night was Alias so I don't think that that show would be a good example to judge if there was and degradation of the signal. Have you noticed any ?? It was also very windy last night and the OTA kept braking up. I need to anchor my antenna a little better but I hate getting up on the second story roof !!



Bill
 

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I've always loved the FAQ from our local NBC station WEEK: http://week.com/dtv/dtv.asp

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Q: What is multicasting?

A: The digital channel has enough capacity to carry a full HDTV program, or several standard digital channels. Digital signals can also be used to send other types of data -- still pictures, text and databases, for example.
Notice "OR".


Not that I have an ATSC tuner to check it out, thoug...
 

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Quote:
These are a filing by a group of affiliates, not the CBS network I believe.


This is a filing from the "CBS Television Network Affiliates Association."
jckessler -


You are correct. I happen to be strongly opposed to "multiple must-carry" but I guess at least that particular statement can not be blaimed on CBS/Viacomm.


Though it certainly does give us a good reason to not support multiple must-carry mandates if we like HDTV.


Imagine. An affiliate could run the CBS network HDTV show. Or instead under "multiple must-carry" they could choose an SDTV version and also include a couple shopping channels and 2 televangelist channels and get them carried free by law on the local cable. Meanwhile the cable company would be prohibited from carrying the national CBS HD feed.


Yuk! :(


- Tom


edit: And if anyone thinks the above is far fetched, here in the Detroit area there is already one digital station that (the last time I looked) appeared to run 2 televangelist SDTV sub-channels 24/7.
 

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Tom..

Not farfetched, at all. What broadcasters WON'T do is put something on those subchannels that would compete against the main channel. Shopping and televangelists are niche and won't really draw from the main channel. What they don't want happening is enough people tuning to the sub to hurt the main. The way advertising is sold each viewer lost from the main costs more than adding a viewer to the sub brings in, which is why the idea of an NBC "Law and Order" subchannel might happen for the O&Os, but unless NBC plans to pay stations to carry the feed, the non-O&Os most likely won't.


Doc
 

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The broadcasters/stations unfortunately have it right. TV manufacturers

have been playing the shell game with consumers, and there are a lot

of HDTVs out there that cannot actually display a full 1080i signal

to its full resolution.


The problem is the trend: if the broadcasters succeed in "dumbing down"

the signal to match the current "least common denominator" then we

are all going to be stuck with second rate HDTV, long after TV sets

improve. And the simple fact of lower resolution broadcasts itself is

going to retard the introduction of more true 1080 line sets on the

market.
 

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You don't need a full resolution set to see problems with macroblocking and pixellation due to insufficient bandwidth. My PBS station multicasts, and the blocking is quite apparant even when the receiver is set to output at 480p.


1080i absolutely needs full bit rate. I hope the networks start forcing affiliates to pass through HD at full bandwidth in their affiliate agreements, but it is likely that may not happen.
 

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A couple of things were interesting from NBC's proposal: 1, they didn't plan to run anything on the sub-channels during HDTV prime-time, and 2. the very top says just NBC O&O. I get the feeling these guys can't speak for the affiliates that they don't own.


It is good that they're leaving prime-time alone (at least for now). I think the affiliates will learn in time that they can't do much with those sub-channels without causing issues with the HD stream.


The other thing that is interesting is that everyone says their focus on "local content". I have to wonder how ingenuous this is, or if the affiliates will deem the most important local issue to be the latest in fashion accessories.
 

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Currently, my NBC station produces and broadcasts 10 Bradley Basketball (NCAA D1) games per year. I am under the assumption that my affiliate is limited in the amount of times that they can pre-empt the network feed for this local production.

Is this actually a national restriction (Or do then just not want to tick off too many "normal" viewers)?

Could a station actually use a sub channel for producing additional games?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by brenden
Could a station actually use a sub channel for producing additional games?
According to the NBC proposal, that's the kind of thing that the sub channel is for - content of local interest. Could be sports, weather, election coverage, etc. It makes sense to use it per the proposal (where those channels go dark at prime-time). Cable companies carry local interest programming; these would fall into that sort of catagory so even must-carry is reasonable...IF the affiliates use it as per the proposal. No guarantees there, AFAIK.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by wjg
I don't know if you noticed, but our ABC affiliate here in Houston has added a second sub-channel ( Weather radar ). I just noticed it yesterday. The only thing I watched on ABC last night was Alias so I don't think that that show would be a good example to judge if there was and degradation of the signal. Have you noticed any ??
I definately noticed the additional channel. My tuner automatically added it to my TV. I was pushing the "channel up" button on my remote and low-and-behold, there it was. Sorry ABC!!! I really like ABC's programming. I slept through Alias (which I usually do), but I'm a big The Practice fan, but I didn't notice any degridation.
 

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"Official Word' from a station engineer hardly represents a stations intent regarding multicasting. Many times you will find the engineering staff with completely different ideas than the management. In all cases you can bet the engineering staff will want to deliver the best possible product they can, HDTV or otherwise, which accounts for the initial response above.


There are a number of possibilities as to where the "official word" might really come from.

- The network itself will have it's policy.

- If the station is an O&O, it's policy will be the same as the network.

- If the station is a non-O&O, the station ownership will determine policy. (An example of this would be the Sinclair stations group.)

- The network stations groups will have their policy. (As noted above for CBS.)

- The NAB will also have a policy, not sure if it already exists.


As you can see, there will be lots of 'official words' on this issue. One thing you can be sure of, the only way to insure the highest quality HDTV is to let local stations (and other providers) know you are watching and what your expectations are.


Other comments:

- To my knowledge, none of the CBS O&O stations multicast, and I know of no plan to do so at any point in the future. CBS strongly believes that HDTV is a significant differentiator in the marketplace and to dilute it is not a viable business alternative.

- The Detroit DTV station mentioned above is not affiliated with any network that offers HDTV, does not do any HDTV of their own, and is multicasting two 480i channels at all times.
 

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SF Bay Area multicasting:


ABC: Yes (but works OK given that the HD is 720p)

CBS: No (!)

NBC: Yes (unfortunately)

PBS: Yes (unfortunately)

UPN: No (But not much on yet other than Enterprise and Jake 2.0)


CBS leads in OTA PQ here...
 

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NBC Pushes Forward With Multicast Strategy


Though the debate surrounding the validity of mandating the cable TV industry to carry more than one digital channel distributed by terrestrial broadcasters remains unresolved, NBC and its affiliate board continues to discuss plans to develop a specialized weather channel and other niche programming with its digital spectrum.


The Federal Communications Commission is expected to make a ruling on the digital must-carry issue in the next six to eight weeks.


After meeting behind closed doors last week in Las Vegas, Roger Ogden, NBC affiliate-board chairman and senior vice president of Gannett Broadcasting told a group of reporters that it was hard to develop a definitive strategy “not knowing what the distribution is going to be from a cable perspective.â€


NBC Television Network Group president Randy Falco said he thinks cable operators will be willing to carry the multicast digital channels if the channels provide value that will help differentiate the local cable operator’s service from its satellite TV competitors.


The network’s stations could also decide to split up their spectrum without cable carriage, if they can develop a compelling business model. “Distribution is a commodity,†Falco said. “If you have good content, there's a million ways to get distribution.â€


Developing a profitable business from these channels could take several years after their launch, according to what Fox executives have discussed with their digital affiliates.


Also at the board meeting, Falco was reported to have addressed the issue of NBC’s acquisition of Vivendi Universal Entertainment. Some affiliate GMs expressed their concerns about NBC's commitment. “Are we less interested in broadcasting? Absolutely not,†he said. “The network is paramount to us. It's at the top of the list.â€



In other news....

Rumors at the FCC and beyond are swirling that three of the FCC’s commissioners are willing to grant broadcasters carriage rights on cable for their multicast channels. Commission members Kathleen Abernathy, Michael Copps and Kevin Martin have all stated separately that they understand the need to mandate carriage, given cable’s nearly 80 percent penetration into consumers’ homes, but are hinging their votes on Chairman Michael Powell’s upcoming proposal of broadcasters’ DTV public-interest obligations.


Copps, for one, has been a big supporter of holding stations and their networks accountable to the public and has spearheaded grass roots “town hall†meetings and supported other activities to get his concerns addressed. Powell has publicly stated that a multicast mandate violates cable’s First Amendment rights.


This in-fighting among commission members has stalled a must-carry decision that was originally expected last fall but now seems more likely to come just before the National Association of Broadcasters’ convention in Las Vegas in April.

http://bth.broadcastengineering.com/...26/index.htm#x

GT
 

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Other than the premium cable channels, I'm beginning to think all of OTA HD is a wash.


the PQ is mostly unwatchable for me now on all channels that multicast- and soon it really does look like they all are going in that direction.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by DaveFi
Other than the premium cable channels, I'm beginning to think all of OTA HD is a wash.


the PQ is mostly unwatchable for me now on all channels that multicast- and soon it really does look like they all are going in that direction.
And that's really a shame. When I first got an HD receiver, I hooked up the OTA antenna about a week before I got the dish up to see 110/119. Previously, I NEVER watched network television, but I did that week just to watch some HD. The next week, I got the second dish up, and THEN saw DiscoveryHD, HDNet, etc. MUCH better. I had assumed it was simply an issue of the source material, not the broadcast, but now that I think about it, I think pretty much every channel here multi-casts an SD signal along with the HD signal. Networks like HBO already have the big four beat in content quality, looks like they're going to have them beat in technical quality as well.


Guess there's a reason why they're called premium networks.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by DaveFi
Other than the premium cable channels, I'm beginning to think all of OTA HD is a wash.


the PQ is mostly unwatchable for me now on all channels that multicast- and soon it really does look like they all are going in that direction.
The broadcasters need to remember that macroblocking is visible even on low res screens. The 1080i PBS affiliate here multicasts a 480i subchannel, and macroblocking is visible even when I output at 480p. It looks very bad.


If the OTA networks are going to insist upon ruining their picture quality to provide services that even fewer people are demanding than HDTV (like anyone really wants a 24 local news channel; they can barely fill a 1/2 hour broadcast with decent content), they will surely loose even more ground to cable channels using the full 19.3Mbps.


This seems to be shortsighted thinking at best: degrading your premium product in order to provide a lesser one.
 
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