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Martin wrote:

     >>Is 480P really considered "standard definition"?  When I look at a
     >>progressive scan image the definition is, in my opinion, greatly
      >> improved.
     >>Scan frequency aside, the image quality difference between
      >>interlaced and
     >>progressive scan is great enough that it doesn't seem fair to call
      >> 480p
     >>"standard definition".

Having been in the front lines for the last seven years of the HD/DTV
standards war, I can tell you that this was always a point of great
controversy.  The biggest fight was always interlace versus progressive.
The reason it was such a fight was that the interlace side had built the
now obsolete 1125/60 hardware, and they had a huge financial stake in
cramming it down the world's throat.  The progressive side was driven by
the usual bunch of kooks who care about truth, justice, science, physical
reality, and good looking pictures.  To admit that 480p actually looks
better than 480i would have been fatal to the interlace religion.  In the
end, we decided not to decide.

Mike responded to Martin:

>    Which is exactly why I said what I did about the average viewer only
>noticing a lack of visible scan lines, wide screen aspect ratio, and no
>analog broadcast artifacts, and thinking of that as HD. And it certainly
>does make me wonder why some are trying to move heaven and earth to do HD in
>the first place.

Ah, yes.  Why do HD in the first place?  Mike is absolutely right that there's
no good reason for it.  Here's the real reason:  Land mobile users of radio
frequency spectrum -- things like police, fire, and taxi services -- wanted
to expand their allotment from the FCC, and they saw all that largely unused
TV spectrum, especially in the UHF, that the broadcasters were sitting on.
The broadcasters didn't want to give it up, so they had to come up with some
story they could use about why they needed to keep it.  Japan was starting to
do analog HDTV, so our broadcasters said, Aha!  That's why we need the spectrum.
That was in 1987.  It's a case of be careful what you wish for, because you
might get it.  That's also why congress goes ballistic whenever anyone points
out that in the digital age, there might be better things than HDTV to put on
the air.

-- J.S.

Thanks to Blake Jones of Jones Consulting for support in 1999.
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