Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
Television Media

Broadcasting HDTV On Analog Bands 145

Texas writes "Check out this new development in HDTV signal-encoding tech. As you know, HDTV currently requires an entirely separate broadcast channel, which the FCC have allocated to current broadcasters in order to simulcast HDTV and regular NTSC signals. This new tech from Los Alamos puts the HDTV info into the current NTSC band, and is even compatable with analog TV (which won't see the additional HDTV data since it's hidden in vestigal sidebands and unused closed caption data space). Also, this new method only requires slight changes to current NTSC broadcast stations and HDTV receivers, and will not make current analog sets obsolete."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

HDTV in Analog Bands

Comments Filter:
  • According to the lab, the technology used in the compression algorithm was initially invented there for processing images from nuclear tests. A patent filed in November 2000 permits the lab to license its encoder to television broadcasters and broadcasting equipment manufacturers.

    This may seem a bit naive, but what business does the government have doing research and not putting it into the public domain. This is paid for using public funds. Don't the results belong to the public?

  • Heretic! Burn 'im at the stake!!

    Seriously, I was given a TV a few years ago by my parents who thought I was missing out on something.. I still haven't plugged the thing in yet.. For the last three semesters, I've lent it to a couple foreign students who couldn't justify buying one..

    Besides, it's a lot more fun flirting with the girl at the video store than actually watching the movie.. :-)

  • Los Alamos is just trying to make themselves look good here by "saving the world" a lot of money by giving us our cake and letting us eat it too. The reality is betrayed by the quote

    "When you flip back and forth between the original and our encoded HDTV signal, you can barely tell the difference"

    I work at a lab that does HDTV, and if you're flipping back and forth between HDTV and NTSC and you can't tell the difference, you're doing something wrong. In this case what you're doing wrong is lossy compressing the image stream until you've degraded it to NTSC quality. So you spent time and money to give me two essentially identical copies of the data. Yippee, great work guys. If this catches on, I can spend extra money on an HDTV set but still get the crappy quality of NTSC. Really, what would this be good for anyway? If NTSC quality is all you are getting, just use NTSC. Luckily, if this article [] is accurate the whole thing is just bogus hype from Los Alamos' PR weenies making claims that the inventor himself never even made.

  • I just cancelled my cable today, and I feel better already. Now I will have more time to do productive things, like spend time with friends and family, read, or even exercise.
    You know, I'm not sure why reading is always assumed to be inherenetly better than watching TV. There's a lot of good TV on that far more edifying than 90% of the books out there.

    Don't quit watching TV. Just quit watching bad TV.

  • Though I am not in favor of paying a few thousand dollars for a new HDTV, by forcing everyone to switch to HDTV could have its positives. Look at all the problems the computer industry has due to the need to support legacy hardware. If the computer industry was freed from having to support old hardware and software, think of the problems it would alleviate. By being torn from the old alot of good could come from it.
  • Closed Captioning is encoded on just one line of VBI (Vertical Blanking Intervals, those "unused data space"(s) ) and is mandated by law to be located on Line 18. There are however other lines that typically go unused. There are some Interactive TV platforms that use this empty VBI, and they could be in trouble if this new HDTV format gets pushed through.

  • Why not spare yourself the headaches of buying new equipment and dealing with "copy protection" schemes that deprive you of fair use and JUST QUIT WATCHING TV.

    I just cancelled my cable today, and I feel better already. Now I will have more time to do productive things, like spend time with friends and family, read, or even exercise. That's not to mention the fact that I will have $57 extra per month to spend on whatever I want.

    Time is really the most valuable thing you have. Don't waste another minute watching cheezy sitcoms and braindead ads. Crap is crap, even if it's 1920x1080.

  • There were several proposals for making HDTV broadcasts backwards compatible with analog TV, including using the digital portion of the signal to convey the "additional" resolution information. There was even a proposal to make the center portion of the image the analog broadcast, and the surrounding imagery would be stitched in from the digital signal. Clever, but ultimately, this and other similar proposals were rejected.

    The U.S. has had the crappiest color television standard in the world, and I don't think it's unreasonable to upgrade to something significantly better. If that means jettisoning backwards compatibility, I'm all for it. The MPEG encoding scheme for HDTV (and 4:3 format DTV) is already lossy, why sacrifice yet more quality just to retain analog compatibility? I am bothered that 80% of the image quality of the current HDTV standard is considered "good enough." What ever happened to standards of quality?

  • by flipflop ( 18397 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2001 @03:20PM (#380459)
    The standards are set, the FCC & Consumer Electronics Manufacturers have spoken.

    They are not going to change anything. The FCC already refused to changed the VSB format to the better CODFM transmission system.

    There is no way in hell they are going to change the bandwidth allocations at this point.

    Oh, but how history could repeat itself!

    If one takes a look at the history of NTSC [], you'll note that a quite similar thing happened before with the introduction of color TV. To summarize:

    CBS developed an incompatible standard. They pushed the FCC to take it. RCA at the last minute reveals their standard - compatable with the (at that time) current standard.

    FCC takes CBS's standard. Broadcasts are done in both standards, and due to a number of circumstances, it isn't catching on. It's scrapped after 4 months.

    After a long unfriendly story, the FCC takes RCA's standard over CBS's. It worked with existing sets, and only one broadcast was needed.

  • why would they count 000000000000000 (15 bits) as 1? wait, 32768 would be the total number of channels, but the last channel would be 32787, who would devise such a counter intuitive system?

    just kidding C, I still love you, don't be mad, I got you a present, I'm going to go feed C# and put him down for a nap.

  • Well I guess it's a shame it never caught on at the time, but it doesn't really matter now, since Digital has been up and running in the UK for over 2 years, making PAL and PAL+ obsolete, in fact, its failure may of accelerated DTV deployment, they just jumped a generation. Anyway, today's Digital WideScrean sets beat the pants off PAL+ and use the spectrum more effectively, and the Teletext no longer looks like a 1980's retro joke.

    There are 7 million homes with Digital in the UK apparently, according to a Wired story [] from today.
    "In the United Kingdom, about 7 million people have some kind of interactive TV subscription, more than any other country in the world."
    That's quite a surprise (for a third world country? :), I just wish the broadband access could of been so far-ahead. (I do have a cable modem now though, but it took long enough, especially when there were no technical reasons delaying the rollout, the cable network is only ~5 years old).

    Obviously, a lot of those 7 million are watching through set-top-boxes with cropped anamorphic pictures on an existing 4:3 set, but I saw a 22" 16:9 set with a digital tuner in a shop recently for around £399 (just under $600us). The prices of the new sets have dropped precipitously, whilst the old 4:3 analogue sets are becoming a rare oddity. It helps that the broadcasters have switched over to the new standard too.
  • Hey, man, if there's nothing on, it doesn't matter how many stations you toss in the mix, there isn't going to be anything on. =)
  • I wonder, is this technology based on some sort of differential encoding scheme, where you encode the difference between the standard and high-defitinion signals? To me, that seems to be the only way to cram that much information into the leftover space in analog signals (but what do I know?)

    If that is true, it would certainly result in much lower-quality output.

    Anyway, I can't really see any TV stations bothering to add yet another broadcasting mechanism (though I suppose it might be interesting/fun to play with).
  • Anonymous... cowards.. no... penis.. must.. troll.. blargh.

    Seriously, I'd rather see a provocative post than a useless post like that one.
  • IMHO the main thing that's slowed HDTV adoption has been the 1000 different standard that have been proposed/adopted over the past decade
  • ..but the $64K (USD) question is, is it too late to get this scheme adopted by the FCC as the forthcoming standard? An awful lot of money has been invested in the currently proposed standard.

    If this new scheme were to become the standard it would mean that plain old VCRs would have another 10-20 years of useful life left to them, meaning I can still copy stuff off the air. I'm not so sure that would still be the case after a complete switchover to a digital format and the obsolesence of NTSC.


  • You know, there are a lot of hearing impaired people out there that use close captioning. It seems selfish to take their bandwidth away just for a better picture on a $5,000 TV. Now, if all the hearing impaired were given broadband so that they could download the closed captioning, that might work.

    I think the idea was that the closed captioning space was over-allotted, and that the extra space can be utilized by the HDTV simulcast.

  • Have we learned nothing here in these last few years of being jacked over by corporations trying to sell products?
    Where's your jaded /. instincts, boy???

    Sure, this standard looks great, but for chrissakes wake up and smell the oligopolistic practices. Chances are this technology will be buried just as quickly as DSL is being kicked under the carpet []. Its very likely that the new set manufacturers will simply not implement this technology into their sets, precisely because it will allow the existence of old sets along with new.

    If people don't have to buy new sets, lots of them wont. If people know that old TV standards are headed for obsolescence, they will be more likely to buy new ones. This is the goal of Trinitron, RCA, Panasonic, and everyone else on the "Sell More Sets" bnandwagon. Its why DHTV was made in the first place, cuz everyone already has a friggin TV and they just can't sell as many as they used to.

    We're jaded for a reason ladies and gents, don't forget that.

  • I agree. Never really watched TV in high school, maybe an hour or two a week while my peers were doubling that every single night. In middle school I watched The Next Generation nightly, and that was about my peak TV usage. I picked up a cheap tuner card when I went away to college, and other than using it to impress my friends and the occasional video capture, I've probably not logged 15 hours of TV in the past three years. It's wonderful.
  • There aren't really that many different standards. Although there are technically 17 or 18 official standards here in the US for digital television, there are only 3 different resolution and progressive scan vs. interlaced combinations (640x480 progressive, 1280x720 progressive and 1920x1080 interlaced) and all of the different standards have to do with various frame rates within these combinations. All HDTVs that support one display type natively will support all frame rates.

    Also, any HDTV thats worthwhile will support conversion of the non-native signals (between 720p and 1080i, the two main ones), so picking one for an HDTV you buy isn't all that important. Plus all of the major networks have picked which display type they will broadcast. So I don't really think that the number of standards is holding HDTV back as much as the high price, lack of mid-size models, and lack of programming.
  • Industry says "Well FCC, will you at least make the cable companies carry the HDTV at no charge?"

    Cable companies say "Fuck you! You gotta pay! Bwah-ha-ha-ha!"
    FCC says "Yep, no federal mandated on HDTV must carry, we are letting 'the market' handle that"

    You are incredibly accurate except for this point. Must-Carry is a clause that means that a Broadcast station can demand that a cable system must carry its channel up to a certain number of channels. Your local NBC affiliate is most certainly not demanding must-carry status on the cable company - it is getting paid by the cable company to be carried. No additional must-carry channels were set aside for HDTV, but NBC's HDTV channel could envoke must-carry if it really wanted to...

    As 47 USC 534 [] reads, "a cable operator with more than 12 usable activated channels shall carry the signals of local commercial television stations up to one-third of the aggregate number of usable activated channels of such system." Later in the section it mentions that standards for transmission of "Advanced Television" signals will be established. Sounds to me that HDTV qualifies as "commerical television broadcast."


  • To elaborate on an earlier reply, 1280x720 is the resolution for progressive scanned HDTV. This has twice as many fields (half frames) as the 1920x1080 interlaced format. So one way of looking at is that only one of the two primary HDTV formats is supported by this new method, but it's not "reducing the spec" as you put it, it's just supporting one of two options.

    720p isn't necessarily inferior either, with progressive scanning images with lots of movemewnt and animation will look cleaner and sharper than with interlaced images which can't keep up with fast moving images as well.
  • I just had an epiphany as to what's wrong with the /. moderation system (after how many years here, I finally figured this out?)

    I was going through the posts, as I got moderator status today, and I realized, jeez, there's a lot of posts here that need to be moderated down. They're not BAD, I don't want to hit this guy and cost him a karma point, and possibly get bitchslapped in metamoderation. They're just needless noise. There's too much of it. But these posts aren't necessarily bad, they're just not what someone who reads at 2 wants to have to deal with - who has the time?

    I wonder if it would help if there was a way to half-moderate a post, knock it down a level without taking away the poor guy's karma. That way, moderation would do what it's supposed to, and reduce the noise for the people who read at 2, not forcing them to go to 3. Yet, also not getting people pissed off by whacking their karma.

    I guess I'm just feeling kind of wishy washy today.
  • Its very likely that the new set manufacturers will simply not implement this technology into their sets, precisely because it will allow the existence of old sets along with new.

    Most of the current crop of HDTVs don't come with a tuner, the tuner is a separate add-on. This tech affects the tuner, not the base tube. By making digital TV signals more practical (it could work with cable without stealing channels, so cable systems wouldn't be reluctant to carry digital channels), this could help them sell *more* sets, not fewer.

    Heck, you could even have a tuner box that creates the digital picture and then converts it back to analog, with the result probably a little higher quality than the original.
  • I would like a filter option where I can see all posts that have received positive moderation. This would be better than just reading the 3-or-greater posts, for instance.

    And perhaps a secondary free-for-all moderation where every logged in user can vote once on any post, which gets tallied into a score for the post, which can be displayed for just the info, or used as a sort/filter key.

    - - - - -
  • Closed captioning provides more than just one stream of text , though. Just look at all the menu items on a CC compliant TV. There's CC1, CC2, etc., plus TEXT1, TEXT2, etc. And I've yet to see a station broadcast anything except CC1. I think they're talking about all the stuff beisdes CC1 when they say "unused".

    I agree though -- closed captioning is a good thing. And since the FCC now requires it in every new set sold in the USA, I'd say it's unlikely to go away any time soon.

  • This is good news. What alot of people dont seem to realize is that HDTV will be mandated over the air in 2006, but not over cable. The cable companies are having a hell of a time with HDTV because it is such a bandwith hog. it takes up (over cable) roughly the equivilent of 8 channels the last time i checked.
  • This is similar to what Lucent are doing for their Digital Radio encoding, it's called "In Band On Channel" (IBOC), it's a nice idea since you don't need to allocate new spectrum. The first widespread commercial application originated in RDS radio services in Europe, where stations encode a few bytes of data along with the FM channel, such as station titles, genre's, time, and traffic alerts, auto-tunning. (this is at a low bitrate).

    However, IBOC suffers from multipath problems (propagation of frequencies when they bounce of buildings, causing a delay, and therefore 'ghosting'), the power of the transmitter has to be greater, and the transmitter proximity has to be closer, otherwise you just drop back to the anologue signal.

    It's a nice idea, but as always there's no such thing as a free lunch, it's always nicer and more efficient to allocate a specific block of frequency to specific device or application.

    The Digital Radio (DAB []) standard in Europe uses the old Band-III channel (~200Mhz) that was once used for very old 405 line B&W broadcasts, I think the BBC used this frequency back in the 1930's.
  • 32768 Channels, and nothing on...

  • by DAldredge ( 2353 ) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Tuesday March 06, 2001 @01:17PM (#380480) Journal
    You are displaying it on a $$$$ pricy TV! I am not sure that a standard sub $300.00 HDTV will look even near that good...
  • Just get rid of karma and people will quit being so childish.
  • This sound like the proposed (And used) PAL Plus
    transmission. On a regular PAL satellite broadcast
    was added an 'hidden' digital stream to enhance details of the analog signal.

    This was abandoned because in a single PAL channel
    you can transmit up to 16 MPEG2-encoded TV signals.

  • So, in other words, the spectrum given to the existing broadcast networks in order to encourage them to develop and deploy HDTV, was not just a multi-billion dollar giveaway to a special interest, it was a completely wasted multi-billion dollar giveaway (since this new tech shows how they could deploy HDTV without using additional spectrum).
  • Corporate America overlays technologies again!

    I figured we would have learned our lesson after the first wave of "new gui apps" that ran overtop of 5250 terminals came along. Now that we have a few million dollars in development invested in these sweet gui apps, we can never ditch the 5250 connections that they work over!

    Is is just me, or is anyone else sick of nearly every company's urge to overlay new technologies on top of legacy technologies?

    There's a reason that the intel chipset is so obfuscated, and this is a prime example.
  • Closed captioning only requires two scan lines to encode...IIRC there are eight lines allocated. So where's the problem in putting the other six to use? Besides, it's not like there isn't enough to go around...of the 525 scan lines in the NTSC standard, only 480 are considered part of the viewable image (which is one of the places we get the VGA standard, btw!). The remaining lines are taken by closed captioning, VITS...and that's about it.

    As I read the article, people with analog sets aren't losing anything, except the pressing need to buy an HDTV receiver within the next five years. And broadcasters don't have to buy as much new equipment to make the mandated cutover; just enough to maintain back-compatibility. I'm betting their transmitters are even up to the task with very little, if any, modification.

    Just my two cents' worth...donate the change to your local TV station's equipment fund.

  • I almost didn't buy a new TV in 1985 because I was going to wait for HDTV which was "just around the corner." 16 years later we're still waiting, and the holdup has been settling on a terrestial broadcast standard. Who cares about terrestial broadcast? If someone is willing to spend thousands of dollars on equipment just to get a more defined picture, are they really going to care about free programming?

    No, of course not. The priority should have been LaserDisc (or variant, such as DVD) and (when it took off in the mid-90's) Internet delivery of programming. The delay in HDTV has saddled us with low-res DVDs instead of HDTV DVDs.

    HDTV has been fumbled for 20+ years.

  • Here's why. Shelley Duvall in _The Shining_.

    No, really. Or, if you don't like that example, substitute _your version of the ugliest celebrity in the world in a really horrible role for them here_. When you read a book, you can make the characters look and sound any way you want them to, avoiding those painful "miscastings," plus (extra bonus!) your imagination gets a workout by having to provide all those little details books don't provide but TV does. Concentration also burns about 120 calories per hour, if I remember correctly, which is another good "workout" reason.

    Case in point to my first premise, when I was in University and had to study _Pride and Prejudice_, the only way I was able to even finish the book was by imagining the Monty Pythons in drag (as the Misses Barrett, etc.) performing it. It was a scream that way. No such _Pride and Prejudice_ movie exists, and even John Cleese in a skirt is more fun to look at than Kate Winslet or whomever with her waist corseted down to (gag! retch!) 22 inches.

    "Been around the world and found
    That only stupid people are breeding
    The cretins cloning and feeding
    And I don't even own a TV."
    (Harvey Danger, "Flagpole Sitta")

  • Disclaimer: I have not read the article yet, I am just skimming through /., but this topic caught my eye.

    I read that sentence as comparing the original HD signal with the encoded one.
    Scott Jones
    Newscast Director / ABC19 WKPT
  • On the plus side
    1. Someone commented about how consumers change TVs every 7 years. But I don't want to buy a 3000$ TV right now! Yes, we have until 2006. But if I buy a new TV right now, unless I want to spend >$1000, it's non-HDTV. So when I buy my new TV in 2008, I will not have had TV for a year? Screw you.
    2. It works without requiring a massive overhaul.

    On the minus side:
    1. Grey Letterbox? PASS. I have enough problems viewing the black ones. And I'm a home theater nut!
    2. Lower Resolution? Argh. Why were we going to HDTV again?
    Overall, I think it's a nice compromise. It will work for a while, show the consumers what HDTV is capable of. Someone will buy a HDTV (or a big monitor and a Geforce card) and show off, and other people will upgrade also. This gives us more time.
  • ...saving millions of people the unnecessary expense of buying a new $3,000 TV

    Here's what I don't get. If you're paying $50 a month for cable, then in five years... you've paid $3000 in cable. I expect any TV I buy to last at least five years.

    Now why would you pay $3000 for the TV programming if you're only going to watch it on a crappy $300 TV?

  • If They were not we would have low power radio. And the citizenry woul have ANY Input at all into how the Electromagnetic spectrum is used. Does it strike you as a bit obscene that private Citizens have no say what these bandwidths get used foir. I mean it 10 zillion other peoples cell phone Calls Ciopies of friends and rush limbaugh radio that pass through or are absorbed by my body 24/7. Now before you tell me to make a tinfoil helmet the pint I am trying to make is that the public is so blind to how much money is being made off all these valuable RF bands which they rightfully own.

    Its Obscene

  • >Beer is a WASTE product?

    *cough* american beer *cough*
  • maybe because lanl does more than nuclear weapons?
  • Yeah, basically. When they realized that budget cuts were coming they just kind of went, "How can we prove we need all this money? HDTV!"

    We need to just start over again. Fire 'em all and re-elect from a new pool. (FCC board)

  • "Unused closed caption data space" ... Is this going to interfere with closed captioning transmission and/or viewing? If it does, then those of us who depend on those closed captions to watch television are out of luck -- and by law, those caption decoding chips must be in all TVs 13" and larger.
  • Itcan be a simple explanation: someone with an agenda did this to you. After all, it's not impossible that people working for or being shareholders of consumer electronic companies, moderate on /. I can imagine they would prefere if everybody was brainwashed to buy new TVsets every half a year. Speech like yours is a bad thing to those people.

  • by Aztech ( 240868 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2001 @01:28PM (#380497)
    I've seen a couple of Sony widescreen (anologue) PAL+ sets from about 1995, they were pretty smart, however as you said, it really ate up the spectrum. And the amorphic cropping didn#t look too smart when a standard PAL 4:3 channel was displayed.

    The modern Sony WEGA [] 16:9 sets with intergrated digital tuners look way smoother, and the Dolby surrond beats the pants of NICAM. PAL+ obviously didn't have DigitalText either, but I think there was an incremental update to the old Teletext standard.

    The Japanese HDTV standard from the early 90's was originally anologue just like PAL+, it flopped and a bunch of government back research went down the pan. However, they've seen sense and now use MPEG2 based broadcasts, but the US and Japan aren't using the COFDM encoding scheme thought because of the spectrum issues, IBOC sounds good, if the encoding actually works.
  • by lordpixel ( 22352 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2001 @01:29PM (#380498) Homepage
    Channel 4 in the UK use PAL Plus for some broadcasts. e.g. they used to use if for their Sunday night movie, a couple of years back.

    Basically the sidebands and used to store additional vertical resolution, taking PAL's 625 line res (compare 525 for NTSC) up to around 8-900 hundred lines (dunno the exact figure).

    The best thing is that because its in the sidebands, it makes no difference to ordinary TV viewers. If your TV can use it, you're in luck, if it can't it has no effect. Cool.

    All in all a bit link anamorphic DVDs.

    I saw "The Shawshank Redemption" on a 16:9 widescreen TV, broadcast in PAL +. Easily the most beautiful broadcast TV I ever saw. It just looked wonderful (OK, well the source material isn't exactly poor).

    Shame it never really caught on...

    Lord Pixel - The cat who walks through walls
  • Okay, let me get this straight: We're reducing the HDTV spec (read the article: 1280x720 max resolution, instead of 1920x1080 for real HDTV) in order to allow it to be transmitted over NTSC-like signals?

    How is this different from saddling all of today's computers with crap left over from 1980's systems?

    People here have complained about being forced to buy a new TV by 2006. Why is that such a bad idea? The average buyer gets a new set every 7 years, I think that's part of why they figured that people would be able to switch by '06. "It's too expensive" people say -- well, it's cheaper today than it was a year ago, and as people buy it, it'll get cheaper. But if we allow backwards compatibility, we get cheapened signals, continued reliance on a 50+ year old standard, and STILL don't necessarily get cheaper HDTV sets.

    I'm just confused. It seems to me that we've fought long and hard for a standard, and now people are trying to change that standard before it's even had a chance to gain momentum. What if all manufactures had stopped making normal DVD players when DIVX was announced? Would DVDs be anywhere nearly as successful as they are now? (I know it's not exactly the same thing, it's late and I'm rambling...)

    Rather than trying to find new ways to send yet another different standard to the user, shouldn't the industry focus on getting cheaper chipsets and TVs on the market so that HDTV really takes off? I mean, geez!

  • Also, this new method only requires slight changes to current NTSC broadcast stations and HDTV receivers, and will not make current analog sets obsolete

    Hence the reason the MPAA doesn't like it.

    Check in...OK! Check out...OK!
  • Lets see... 80% of the quality and no one will notice? Umm... well I think I'd notice.

    I mean, I've been suffering for years from my overseas friends lambasting me about the superiority of PAL vs. NTSC (Never Twice Same Color or whatever you want to call it). So now our "Americanized" HDTV signals are going to be crippled too?

    Crud. Why don't they work on making a cheap way to convert true HDTV signals into something an old analog TV can understand instead of trying to keep the old technology working. Sheesh.

    I can see it now, in the year 2056 we'll be buying our new super 3d VR televisions, but they'll have to make it so they conform to the old standard, which conforms to the older standard, ad infinitum, so that bubba can watch rastlin' on his 5" B&W TV.
  • by computer_chacham ( 111723 ) <> on Tuesday March 06, 2001 @12:38PM (#380502)
    The inventor has disavowed the press release. Look down the middle of this page ml . This e/01-023.html is the original press release.
  • by Argyle ( 25623 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2001 @12:39PM (#380503) Homepage Journal
    The standards are set, the FCC & Consumer Electronics Manufacturers have spoken.

    They are not going to change anything. The FCC already refused to changed the VSB format to the better CODFM transmission system.

    There is no way in hell they are going to change the bandwidth allocations at this point.

    For those interested in a brief history of HDTV, here it is:

    Here's how it went:

    Broadcast Industry asks for bandwidth for HDTV
    FCC says "OK, we'll set aside bandwidth for HDTV"
    FCC says "What standards?"
    Industry says 'No Standards Please' and come up with EIGHTEEN recommended formats for HDTV. I am not shitting you.
    FCC says "Isn't 18 different standards a bit much?"
    Industry says "Shut the fuck up FCC, we know what we are doing. The 'market' will handle this!"
    Consumer Electronics dudes whine "18 formats make every thing cost more, you are fucking us!"
    FCC says "OK, it's your call on standards, 18 formats is fine, infact there are NO STANDARDS AT ALL, 'cause we are letting the 'market decide', but you start broadcasting HDTV now or we take back the FREE bandwidth."
    Industry says "What? We really just want the free bandwidth. You really want us to do HDTV??
    Congress says "Fuck you Industry. Broadcast HDTV or we'll legislate your asses back to Sun-day!"
    Industry says "We're fucked. 18 formats? Why the hell did we do that? Let's change it."
    Consumer Electronics dudes say "You ain't changing shit. We are already building the boxes you said you wanted built."
    FCC says "Yah, ya boneheads we told you 18 was too many, now you gotta live with it."
    Industry says "Well FCC, will you at least make the cable companies carry the HDTV at no charge?"
    Cable companies say "Fuck you! You gotta pay! Bwah-ha-ha-ha!"
    FCC says "Yep, no federal mandated on HDTV must carry, we are letting 'the market' handle that"
    Industry says "We are so fucked. We are spending 5-10 million per TV station in hardware alone and have 1000 HDTV viewers per city, even in LA!"
    Consumer at home says "Where is my HDTV? Why does it cost so much? Fuck it, I'm sticking with cable/DirecTV."

    Consumer electronics dudes, broadcast industry, FCC, and congress all cry. Cable companies laugh and make even bigger profits.

  • Wow - mod that up as insightful, or something... although there are lots of adjacent channels on my cable system, it's still a relatively easy thing to remedy.
  • The inventor didn't disavow. Rather the author of the article is bias slanting against any change in the status que. The only relevant info is that Bruce Franca from the FCC's technical arm, and Mark Richer, Executive Director of the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), and each politely told him that there would be little-to-NO interest in his system at this stage of the game.
  • Let's see, $3300.00 for a cheap tv and cable every five years or $6000.00 for an expensive tv and cable every five years according to your math. That makes for a difference of $2700.00. You have effectively doubled your expenditures on tv if you go the route of paying $3000.00 for a tv every five years. I can't justify the $50.00 a month for cable right now on top of my internet and extra dialup line, let alone justify the extravagance of a top of the line tv. I would be happy to take that money and save it for a something useful like a car or a years worth of rent. Even if I made more money I would have trouble justifying spending so much of it on something that does so little to improve the quality of my life or better me in any way. You do whatever you like with your six grand, I'll keep my $80.00 vcr and five year old $200.00 tv and be quite satisfied with the return on my investment.
  • Yeah, that's about what you do when you drink it, though it's more like *urnrrrrl* *bluuuuuuuuuch*
  • Everyone knows that the real reason that cars that run on water and have beer for exhaust never caught on because the beer ends up skunking out real bad. It was just simply not economically feasible to make a car that would produce a fine draft quality beer. Then you have the whole American beer vs European beer which would mean extra tooling and expense, and that's not even counting the hundreds of different varieties of beer out there. As far as the plans being scrapped goes, please, give me a break! Here's a link to the plans if you don't believe me, htpp://
  • Sorry, but the max HDTV res IS 720(P)- the 1080 figure is for the interlaced pic.
  • Bingo.

    The color NTSC standard is -already- an ugly hack, layered on top of the old B&W spec. Why anyone would want to perpetuate this 60-year-old mistake is beyond me.

    Besides, the broadcasters will never go for it. Sure, they're dragging their feet right now with implementing HDTV. But once it is done, they can use their allocated (FREE!) spectrum to simutaneously broadcast -four- seperate programs at once. This new format does not appear to have any such functionality, which spells a huge loss in earnings potential for any station manager.

    Also, it's broken. The analog signal portion of the signal will be at an aspect ratio of 16x9 (hence the reference to letterboxed video), which is fine I suppose, except that reruns of I Love Lucy and other ancient (and not so ancient) programs will be letterboxed top, bottom, and sides. Expect a 20" analog TV to look like a ~15-16" (anyone care to do the math and figure it out?) set, with a lumenescent grey border. Or cropped video, top-and-bottom, in order to fill out the sides.

    This may make people more interested in an HDTV set (their analog pictures will all shrink), but at the cost of reduced picture quality once they do.

    The hardware folks won't like it. They say it'll require a 'small software change' to existing HDTV sets, but Toshiba and Philips read that as 'Christ, now we need to send tens of thousands of service techs out to plug new ROMs into 300-pound TVs.'

    Do we really need to stay backward-compatible with a 1950 B&W RCA console, when just like with initial large cable TV systems, and now digital cable, an inexpensive set-top box will do the trick justfine for the naysayers and owners of such antiquated equipment?

    Forget for a moment that such a box doesn't yet exist. We've got 5 years to get one there, and at the present rate of advancement of digital technology (particularly in the fields of DSP and codecs), some Korean bastard will have them on shelves for less than $50 well before any broadcaster switches entirely over to HDTV.

    Adolf Osborne

    Where there's a need, there's a greedy Korean with 10,000 small-fingered slaves ready to solder together a solution.
  • This system has nothing to do with copy protection.

    If encrypted broadcasts / bit munging are wanted on the part of the producer, it will still occur. Sure, they'll only be able to cripple the digital signal. But if they're willing to do this, they'd likely have no qualms about TAKING AWAY the analog portion of that program in its entirety.

    So, you're left with a protected digital signal, with no analog counterpart -- just like with existing HDTV standards.

    End result: Issues of fair use and copyright protection are unaffected by this system. The war is not yet over. And you should be shedding tears, because this proposed system sucks.
  • Amen brother. The public airwaves are supposed to belong to the public, and yet the broadcasters of all kinds have been given a free ride for the past, oh... 70 years? 80 years? Well, a damn long time. The fact that the original bandwidth auction of the newly set aside HDTV spectrum wasn't on the news is saddening but far from unexplainable. The media companies weren't going to let the little folk in on their little goldmine...

    We should have our own broadcast stations, low-power FM stations, and other radio-based services for our communities. Instead, the community is slowly dissapearing in a blue glow and static fuzz. After a while of staring at super-high resolutions and hearing super-high-fidelity sounds, perhaps their sharpness is dulling us. The world will look less and less appealing, and we'll only be capable of interacting with the glowing box, and not each other.

    I could go on a LONG time here, but suffice it to say that the spectrum was stolen from us, sold by the government, and is still being held captive and even perhaps used against us (hmm... advertising as warfare...) every day.

    It's time to take back what is ours. Educate yourself and educate others. Only ignorance stands to defeat us.


    Oh, and one of the reasons why the cellphone people are pushing their digital services is that 7 digital signals can fit in the same bandwidth space as 1 analog signal. Hmm... They've found a more economical way to profit from public property. Great, eh?
  • Ah, but since it is backwards compatible the old equipment won't see the new signals to prevent pirating. HDTV doesn't give them capabilities that technology can't already give them on analog. The FCC hasn't allowed them to use Macrovision on the analog channels. The stations lost a court battle a long time ago.

    The problem came up again when people could make perfect digitial copies. I hope the FCC descisions are overturned, but in the event they aren't we can still copy the analog stream for the purposes of time shifting.

    I don't want to pay a TV tax like they do in the UK. If someone else wants to pay to beem this into my home, I will let them. I fast forward through my share of comerical because I can, but at the same time I will be very disapointed if it causes me to loose the programing I watch.

    As for this more people paying for their signal, where did you find that? I think you are full of it. Cable and DSS aren't required for HDTV. My cable bill is not the same as the TV tax in the UK.

  • I hate the idea of HDTV, until this came to light. I am all for better picture quality and better sound, but how many people wanna spent the 3000+ dollars on a new HDTV, only to have to spend more on a bloody decorder box. Its not to late, if everyone aproaches the powers that be, we can force the better idea through, giving tne people that want it thier HDTV and leaving the rest of us alone. I will definitly not pay people more bloody money to get a better tv picture, because most of the good stuff on TV, is either reruns of 70's and 80's shows, or Survivor, where nither will get any better with increase resolution. Why not rather then complain about new standards, or submitting snide remarks, we contact who ever is responsible for this expensive waste of money and force this standard to be adopted.
  • Best way to kill a party is to turn on the tv.

    Unless of course, you're trying to cull.
  • With all the 'copy protection' fizznits we've been heaving about being added to the HDTV standard, I think the ability to crack the signal is pretty important.

    Will it be easier to crack CSS systems in the NTSC signal than the band allocated directly to HDTV broad?

    Is this completely irrelevant?
  • Well that was because a color picture was forced to fit within' the same specifications as a B&W picture.
    Now doing that saved the populc millions of dollars and I don't think th TV comnpanies will let that happen a 2nd time.
  • Yeah, but why would they use a signed 16-bit integer? Taking the bold assumption that there'd be no negative channels, a 16-bit unsigned integer would yield 65536 channels ;).

    Alex Bischoff
  • Yeah, the cable companies would love that, another opportunity to render "cable ready" TV's and VCR's obsolete and force people to rent converter boxes.
  • Just tell your local congresscritter that you can spend the money on campaign contributions or on a new TV if the old one gets obsoleted, their choice.
  • I used to work for the public television station in Arkansas and I got a lot of exposure to digital television. This new encoding scheme is never going to happen. It sounds like a good plan, but it's too little too late. Too many companies have invested too much money in existing systems for them to go and re-engineer their entire setup at this point. You are correct, however about color TV. The FCC mandated that B&W TVs must still be able to receive the color signal, and we have basically done the same thing again with DTV. I forsee even more problems for DTV in the future because, IMHO, we are trying to cram today's modern technology into technology from the 1920s!
  • Speaking of "letting the marketplace decide", anyone remember when there were 5 different standards for AM stereo for the marketplace to decide on? Listened to any good AM stereo lately?
  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2001 @01:55PM (#380523) Journal
    There is an interesting Closed Captioning FAQ here []. There is also an excellent collection of resources here [] at, with legal resources here []. There is also a list of technical requirements here [], which will answer more of the engineering questions.

    That said ...

    Why can I see the movie industry balking on this, fighting this technology?

    Because a pure HDTV system that does not allow backward capability allows them to digitally block services according to their desires. Take a look at recent slashdot stories on Direct TV and HDTV. It takes a spanner (wrench) and throws it right into the gears of their plans to assert perfect control over copying, etc. Everyone can still make their tapes, and the old analog recorder might not even copy the HDTV code correctly to ensure watermarks, etc.

    While it will allow the more rapid adoption of HDTV, it will also reveal their plans to rip off the consumer by covert standards. It slaps them up side the head.

    This is something that should be urged for adoption as quickly as possible. It is the best good for the public. The media moguls will fight it tooth and nail.

    I shed no tears.

    You may want to share your opinion on this with your political representative.

  • Hell, I could care less about improved picture and reception. I watch tv on a 9 inch black and white in my office I picked up for 6 bucks at a yardsale. But what interests me the most is simulcasting, or the ability for a station to show 4 or more programs at once, depending on bandwidth. If this isn't supported, I don't see much benefit.
  • > They're just needless noise. There's too much of it.

    That's probably what "overrated" ought to be for. I've even used it (very rarely) myself that way, when there are a whole bunch of "5 - insightful" posts, one of which clearly has less to say than the others (and probably has a "karma whore" followup already).
    I've also used it once for a post which was rated "3 - insightful", but where the supposed insight was demonstrably false (but it wasn't a troll or flamebait, the guy just wasn't thinking clearly). There were already posts (rated 2 or less) in other threads that made the mistake clear, so just following up would have been redundant.

    The problem is that "overrated" is also used to mean "I disagree with this, but know marking it as flamebait will get penalized in metamoderation, so I'll use overrated instead".
    Actually I'd like metamoderation to have an option for "mistaken" as well as "unfair". "Unfair" would be things like "this is provocative, but not a troll, and shouldn't have been moderated down" and "mistaken" would be "this isn't a troll, but it is totally offtopic and deserved to go down". "Mistaken" would also cover "the moderator may be a fool, but doesn't seem to be deliberately abusing the system".
    Picking up a lot of "mistaken"s would reduce your chance of being chosen as a moderator, but not give you bad karma.
  • I totally agree with you here. If you've ever taken a look at the NTSC (Never The Same Color) spec you realize that it's an absolute kludge that sacrificed significantly better picture quality for backwards compatability. I'd hate to see the same thing happen to HDTV. This technology has been hovering for the past twenty years and the only thing stalling it has been competing standards and backwards compatibility issues. The current spec is damn good; it dumps the evolutionary baggage and provides ample time for people to adapt. Besides, the cost issue will most likely evaporate once production increases.
  • for once, can we move forward?

    Color tv was an awesome hack: the fact that all the b&w televisions could handle the color signal was great. For those that don't know, the color signal was encoded YCC (Y-luminance, Cr and Cb for color) instead of RGB. This allowed the b&w tvs to use the luminance channel as a signal, and still allow the gamut needed for color. And you wonder why digital images (on a computer) and video don't go hand in hand...

    HDTV is NTSC space is an even cooler hack, but how long are we going to keep doing this? Are we going to have holographic tv in 6 Mhz of bandwidth?!

    Support new standards for HDTV! Progressive scan, high res, component i/o for devices, and the like. Let us move forward without the limitations of the past. We don't need no stinkin' backwards compatability.


  • "...without clogging up the already-crowded airwaves."

    I disagree with the general statement that the 'airwaves are crowded.' The airwaves are horribly mismanaged and misallocated. Let's see, here in Richmond, VA, there are 7 major stations. They're 6 MHz each. That's 42 MHz of used spectrum. There are currently 62 or so allocated TV channels, representing 372MHz for a grand total of 11.2% utilization. Note that those unused channels are just sitting there idle, although in some markets (Philadelphia rings a bell, har!) they've begun using channels for public service. (before flaming me, I understand the engineering constraints of harmonic channels and IMD).

    The TV channels aren't the only wasted spectrum. Have you ever noticed how much spectrum is allocated to the US Gov't? Geez Louise! Here's [] a link to allocations from 137MHz to 10GHz. These allocations were made back when there wasn't a use for these mysterious 'ultra high frequency' waves. Technology changes, and so should outdated allocations. Remember that at one time Amateur radio operators 'owned' everything from '200m and down.' (That's 1.5MHz -> gamma rays - the top of the AM band, all of the shortwave and CB bands, all of the VHF TV and business bands, all the gov't allocations, all the UHF TV and business bands, Cell phones, radars, visible light, ...) There's a book called '200 Meters and Down' that chronicles the early years of radio. I think it's available at the ARRL Website [].

    My point is that once uses were found for these previously useless waves, allocations were changed to accomodate the new technology.

  • Actually, I thought the names sounded the same when read as they do coming up... Buuuuuuuusschhhhhhh!!! Paaaaaaaabbbst! Blaaaaaaaaaaatz!

    Then, of course, there's Schlitz (no comment)...
  • OK, I admit my knowledge of HDTV is limited. Likely more then random folks but still not up there with the videophiles.

    First off it's my understanding that there are multiple HDTV formats, not just the single 1,280x720 one listed in the article.

    Second the visual content of HDTV is, according to all reports I've heard & demos I've seen, dramatically better then what we see with NTSC video. This story presents this flavor as being almost as good ("you can barely tell the difference") which begs the question: Why bother?

    Third the whole price theme seems to be irrelevant in most other parts of the world where better-then NTSC/PAL/SECAM TV is available. True this sort of stuff comes out in high-end video first but apparently the majority of TV purchases in the EU are now their better-flavor.

    Fourth why are my tax dollars paying for research & developments that I need to pay for again to use? Hell - I already paid for it to get it invented. If manufacturers want to do their own R&D and pass the costs on to me fine but I don't see why a Federal Lab is patenting & licensing the products of it's publicly financed work.

    So, for those who do know more then I about HDTV what are the advantages of this almost-as-good format, how does it stack up against "real" HDTV, how interoperable is it (since HDTV is more then just the broadcasting but also the recording & editing) and finally will anyone care since HDTV is already rolling out?

  • I think for DoE to come out say "Hey we developed this cool technology for nuclear tests, but it would work great for this private sector technology," is a huge step in the right direction. How much money will taxpayers save if they aren't forced to buy new TV in 2005?
    Spin off technology from the space program has been a huge boost to the economy, and to the wellfare of the US as a whole.
    New plastics, life saving devices, and yes, fun toys.
    Don't forget the spave program is resopocible for many kids becoming scientists.
  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2001 @12:19PM (#380545) Homepage
    Maybe this will put an end to the FCC's idiotic forced obsolesence of analog TV, saving millions of people the unnecessary expense of buying a new $3,000 TV to watch "Oprah" and "Friends."

    Granted, the TV manufactureres would have their "subsidy" reduced by this, but that's a good thing!

    - - - - -
  • You know, there are a lot of hearing impaired people out there that use close captioning. It seems selfish to take their bandwidth away just for a better picture on a $5,000 TV. Now, if all the hearing impaired were given broadband so that they could download the closed captioning, that might work.

    Plus, I like to turn on closed captioning at loud parties, so you can still follow the flow of teh show and laugh at the mispellings.
  • $3000 dollars? You're on crack. The HDTV module for my Dishnetwork 6000 DBS system cost $99 dollars, it will down convert to a standard TV. Or output compoent or VGA. Down converted OTA looks like a really good DVD. And that's from a pair of rabit ears.
  • But if only the rich people are able to watch TV, then the poor people won't have the stupidifying effect. They will advance through society through pure ability, until they become wealthy. Then they will buy HDTV's, and become ensnared, making room for the next wave of smart poor people.

    This new encoding scheme breaks that plan completely!

  • by Wind_Walker ( 83965 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2001 @12:21PM (#380552) Homepage Journal
    This is another example of great progress being made in the fields of technology. I'm happy to see that we (human beings, of course) can now transmit high quality television through the old standard bands (NTSC).

    With the addition of HDTV signals, digital information can now be decoded easily, without clogging up the already-crowded airwaves. In addition to this, transmitters can now encode into their signals specific copy-protection schemes so that people receiving HDTV signals cannot use them illegally.

    By making this transition painless for the everyday user, HDTV can now incorporate more heavily-enforced copy protection schemes, preventing pirating of signals. I look forward to this happening. Less signal pirating will lead to better programming, because more people will pay for their signal instead of getting it for free. More money leads to better talent, which will lead to more money...

    Bring on HDTV, I say!

    That's just the way it is

  • For the record, here's the moderation on the original post:

    Moderation Totals:Flamebait=1, Troll=1, Funny=1, Underrated=1, Total=4.

    ... it would be nice if this was shown on all the postsm all the time, rather than just the last moderation.

    - - - - -
  • and will not make current analog sets obsolete.
    Then why would a TV manufacture want this? There the ones that want HDTV to be manditory, there sales need boosting.
  • Brilliant! Excellent summary of the comedy of errors we're saddled with. Moderators, mod that up please!

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Tuesday March 06, 2001 @01:01PM (#380570) Homepage Journal
    No, its not to late, but it will require us to act now. Right a letter to your Govenor, Congress, the President, and the FCC. I mean a hard letter.
    when your over at someones house that will be hard put to spring for a new HDTV in 2005, tell them about how there going to have to shell out for a new TV.
    Turn the current FCC mandate into a PR nightmare. There have been many instance in american history where a graa roots effort has made large change to the course of history.
  • That's all well and good, but who wants to continue analog transmissions. After all, you can't use your Digital-TV-version-of-SDMI if the old analog sets can still pick up the signal!

    Gasp! People might record shows and (horrors!) watch them again, or cheat hard-working sponsors by skipping the commercials!

    This is a neat innovation to be sure, but I'm sure the subversives who created it will swiftly be brought to justice. After all, conceiving of a technology that, if it were implemented and distributed, could conceivably be used to violate the DMCA is undoubtedly illegal under the DMCA.

    All citizens reading the referenced article are expected to report to reducation centers for cumpulsory brainwipes. Failure to do so will result in summary termination.

  • by PorcelainLabrador ( 321065 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2001 @12:24PM (#380576) Homepage

    "According to the lab, the technology used in the compression algorithm was initially invented there for processing images from nuclear tests."

    Riiiight... I'll bet it was technology stolen from the webcam in the rec-room.


  • In other news, a car propelled entirely by water has been developed. The only waste produced by the vehicle is Beer.

    Please note that the HDTV over analog and water-powered car inventors have been shot. All documentation has been destroyed, we now return you to your regularly scheduled channel (one of which we got for free!)...

  • The article doesn't even mention closed-captioning. From the article []:
    "There is about a half a MHz of unused bandwidth in the letterbox, and about a half a MHz in the vestigial sidebands, and we make use of them both to encode the high-definition information," said Nickel.

    To analog-TV viewers, the extra information will appear to be encoded within the black bands at the top and bottom of the screen -- the so-called letterbox. Viewers will be able to tell when there is information in the letterbox because it will be gray instead of black.

    It looks like the digital signals are being encoded in regions which are otherwise unused (taking advantage of improved signal-processing technology) and the captions are safe.
    spam spam spam spam spam spam
    No one expects the Spammish Repetition!
  • The inventor has disavowed the press release. Look down the middle of this [] page. This [] is the original press release.
  • So?
    We still need to fight it, and it can be changed. Instead of boohooing and grossing about how bad life is , perhaps you should right letters, let people know how much money there going to be spending? Turn this into a PR nightmare, they will change.
  • Sorry, I'm new at this. The inventor has disavowed the press release. Look down the middle of this [] page. This [] is the original press release.
  • The scary thing is.... once you actually SEE HDTV, in your home, with the shows you watch, you don't want to watch anything else. It's all crap. Even DirecTV (of course, DTV quality RULES over cable) can't carry a torch.. (unless you get HD-DTV...)

    Hell, even RETRANSMISSION of NON-HD shows (4:3) is better than without it.

    And, did I mention the dolby digital 5.1 audio stream on that HD signal...

  • I don't think they are eliminating the closed captioning (which probably isn't legal anyway), but are using space that closed captioning doesn't use (presumably it is unneeded, for whatever reason) for additional HDTV signal.

    At least that's the impression I get.

  • Why didn't they think of this before now? Surely it's not like cramming more stuff into the existing signal is a new technique - it's we got <b>color</b> television after all.

    While I like the start-fresh approach, there's a lot to be gained by piggybacking the signals. At least temporarily.

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"