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Re: HD - Quality ?

>What the heck is the point in originating in HD only to have everybody
>the hell out of it when they need to make it into a "file" for DTV ?  [...]
>Even if you supply quality, the DTV system will just rob bits from the
>mainstream as it sees fit. [...]

>Maybe I'm missing something else but I also understood that the amount of
>HDTV originated material in the US will amount to .... 4 hours per week
>across 4 channels.

Some observations on DTV broadcasting, US-style:

1. Every broadcaster has the choice to send either one HDTV or several SDTV
programs on each channel.  If multiple SD programs are being broadcast, it
is indeed possible that something like a sporting event could rob bits from
the other programs, but this is obviously not an issue for a single HDTV
program.  Some of the DTV encoders that have been discussed in the trade
press can be manually adjusted to allocate bits among the mutlicast SD
program streams based on the station manager's priorities.  For example, if
a basketball game, a movie, a talk show, and a cooking show are all on at
the same time, it would be possible to program the encoder to "trash" the
cooking show when more bits are needed for basketball, leaving the movie and
the talk show untouched.

2. The major impetus towards HDTV in the US is coming from two places, the
first being the networks.  There are two reasons the networks want HD.  One
is because they specialize in advertising national-brand products.  If they
attract more attention by being broadcast in HD, so much the better for the
networks' profitability.  The fact that at least initially, HDTV receivers
will for the most part be owned by the well-heeled has not been lost on
advertisers either.

The other reason is because the compression of real-time video programming
was originally promoted by General Instrument in the early 1980s as a way
for cable companies to offer 500 channels without massive rewiring of their
systems.  It is still possible for them to do that.  Rather than dilute
their audiences, and possibly their ad revenue, the networks turn the same
technology around to give you one program, but at a much higher quality
level.  Since SDTV and HDTV are the same except for resolution, and the
added resolution doesn't serve any purpose until one goes out and spends a
lot of money on a big-screen TV, it is still debatable whether quantity or
quality will win out in the end.

3. The other big proponent of HDTV in the US is our Congress, some members
of which failed to see why broadcasters in this country should receive a
second free channel for digital transmission, let alone be allowed to keep
their original analog channels without paying--unless US television viewers
got something "extra" in return.  The question of how much US viewers are
willing to pay for HDTV, or if they even wanted it in the first place, was
never asked.  In any event, Congress is much too busy with far more
*important* matters at present, which is why much of the clamor over HDTV
has died down.

Best regards,
Christopher Bacon

thanks to John Palmisano for support in 1999
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