DTV Primer

Chris Llana, Editor


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June 15, 2006

An odd title, if ever I heard one. But true.

First, Samsung is reported to have shipped its $999 Blu-ray Disc player to retailers, so the news for June 25 will be that Blu-ray players have reached the market. The first batch of Blu-ray movies should be available on the 20th, perhaps. We'll see. But good news in any case!

Over in the HDMI web site, there is this little announcement: HDMI 1.3

I'm really looking forward to that future news. How soon is soon?

And over at the FCC, the Commissioner's public meeting for June is going to present "a Second Order on Reconsideration and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning the mandatory carriage of digital broadcast television signals by cable operators."

What's that mean? It means that Chairman Martin is a proponent of mandatory cable company carriage of broadcast stations' secondary digital channels, and now that another like-minded Republican Commissioner has been appointed to the FCC, he finally has the majority he needs to reverse a prior FCC decision to the opposite. To wit, that cable companies need only carry the primary channel -- the high-def one, and not all the other standard-def ones that many stations want to do in place of one HD channel.

We'll see what the proposal says, and you can bet that the cable lobby is mounting their defenses.

That's on Wednesday, June 21.

Also at the FCC, they are making progress transitioning from analog TV to digital TV. They have issued new instructions for TV stations on procedures for the upcoming July 1 deadline that essentially requires all stations to have their digital transmissions up to full power (with caveats, of course).

On July 1, 2005, CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox stations had to be up to full digital power in the largest 100 TV markets. This time that goes for everyone else.

If they don't get their power up, then they could lose interference protection in their coverage areas. That means that adjacent stations with the same frequencies would be free to expand their coverage into the tardy station's underpowered areas, and the station that hasn't brought up its transmitting power could lose coverage (TV households, and hence advertising revenues).

So if you don't live in one of the top 100 markets, or you want to watch WB or UPN, etc., and your digital signal has been weak, expect conditions to improve after July 1.

Did I forget anything?