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Re: HDTV WHY???



In a message dated 97-10-01 16:08:49 EDT, Jim Lindelien wrote:

<< On more than one occassion, I've taken a non-video friend into a broadcast
or post facility, where for the first time they've viewed a clean 601 NTSC
picture and said. "oh, is that HDTV?!". >>

This has been my experience too -- as well as the difficulty of explaining
(in non-technical terms) to them why it no longer looks that way by the time
it gets home!

<< This argues that the sweet spot for broadcasters is to retain their
present plant, but deliver it to the home relatively intact.  The consumer
keeps their TV, but adds a really cheap box to decode the digital, like DSS
works. >>

At least one scenario for the debut of DTV is to broadcast line-doubled 601
digital video at 1080 i.  That probably won't last for long if the only
result is the sales of set-top decoders to turn the signal back into 525; it
would make a lot more sense to simply transmit digital 525 and sell the extra
bandwidth to paging services.  Even if that's all that happens, however,
digital 525 broadcasting would be, for all practical purposes, 601 in the
home, and it may be enough to keep a lot of people happy for a long time.

As a little bit of historical perspective, FM radio was introduced to the
public in 1938.  Despite the fact that, as a mode of transmission, FM is
superior to AM in many ways, the number of FM stations that closed in the
1950s exceeded the number of new ones built.  Two things reversed that trend
in the 1960s.  First, the FCC mandated that FM stations could not simply
retransmit the same programming as AM; and secondarily, stereo broadcasting
was authorized.  Both changes made FM into something completely different
than AM, and it finally took off.  

DTV has the technical superiority -- it can deliver the quality level of 16mm
film images, along with multiple channels of CD-quality audio, to every home
in the country -- to blow NTSC into the weeds.  But as long as DTV is used to
transmit the same generally mediocre programming as NTSC, upconverted or not,
I don't see it going very far very fast.  Why is anybody going to bother?

I fully agree that at some point, maybe 15 years in the future, the
"information superhighway" will be used to deliver HD television programming.
 Not the Internet we know and love (?) now, but some successor system which
will undoubtedly emerge as the Information Age continues to unfold.
 Television sets will have enough intelligence to log onto a video server and
tell you what programming is available, and then download it to your house --
maybe faster than real time -- and then run it for you.  It will be HDTV,
mildly compressed if at all.  While I'd expect TV broadcasting to continue in
some areas, the concept of fixed transmitters using potentially valuable
spectrum to send TV programming to fixed receivers is going to be pretty
outdated then.

Cordially yours,
Christopher Bacon



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