Did Fox sink this year's Superbowl?

In this month's Reader Feedback column, a reader fears Chairman Powell may have set the DTV process back for many years, another critique's FOX's Superbowl coverage and one reader has the last word on birds derailing DTV.

Low-power DTV

The idea of operating at much lower power to just get on the air will have significant long-term negative effect on the viability of DTV in general. Your first observation that a few kilowatts at 20 miles may be difficult to receive is, of course, true. However, the Table of Allotments made certain assumptions about power and interference ratios that under a generalized reduced power scenario will fall apart. The classic example is the adjacent DTV channel assignments that assumed the DTV signal would be at a high power level close to the level of the NTSC signal. If the DTV signal level is reduced by 10db or more, the adjacent channel high-power signal can destroy the receiver's ability to even recognize that a DTV signal is present. We witnessed this very reflect when running COFDM vs. 8VSB testing in Baltimore and Washington, DC.

Rather than giving DTV a boost I am afraid that Chairman Powell may have set the process back for many, many years, if not forever. Perhaps you are correct, it is time to get serious about cable carriage of DTV.

There is now clearly no other real option as long as the ATSC system remains unimproved.
Nat Ostroff
Vice President-New Technology
Sinclair Broadcast Group

The FOX sleight of hand

Once again, FOX network is showing their complete ineptitude in getting anything high-def on the air. When I heard that FOX would be doing the Super Bowl this year, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach because I know this is the only network that has completely ignored HD, managing to not have a single hour of HD programming. Here is an opportunity to showcase what HD can do and FOX can only muster a feeble 480p. On their Web site they bragged about FOX Widescreen and how this production was going to be so much better than the (CBS) digital broadcasts of years past. A 1080i upconversion of 480p cameras is hardly better. From the FOX Web site: “Previous digital Super Bowl telecasts have only shown the game itself, with the signal originating from a separate production unit. The result was that the digital viewer experienced only a fraction of the production values enjoyed by the traditional analog viewer.” 1080i can't do slo-mo and since all the HD viewers would rather see that than good quality video, let's use all 480p cameras! Some logic.

I think I speak for all HD viewers when I say I would rather see a simple four-camera native 1080i production than a fancy NTSC upconversion from some old analog truck. Everyone who spent thousands on HD equipment this past year (myself included) is going to be furious when they turn on their local FOX DTV affiliate and see that once again, FOX has taken the cheap route to making their programming. Thanks to FOX for putting another roadblock up for HDTV.

When does the game go back to CBS/ABC/NBC? They at least show a commitment to doing the right thing. What kind of engineer actually thinks HD viewers won't notice the Super Bowl is in 480p? I hope all the HD viewers complain to FOX and maybe that will prevent them from being so cheap, and then trying to pass it off as an improvement.
Bob Zajko, CBT
Liberty Uplink

The “last word” on birds

In all the responses to the lemmingbird story, no one seems to have hit on what I consider the bigger issue: Protecting towers from birds.

I recently engineered a station where both towers were being destroyed by copious quantities of bird guano. If it is left unchecked for a few more years there is a good possibility that one or both towers could be felled by these feathered bipeds. A major highway runs between the towers, so if one came down in the wrong direction… Oh, the humanity! These towers have red lights, but they've invariably failed to prevent hundreds of winged squatters from perching anywhere they wish. Working beneath these towers is a real treat also, as you can well imagine. A raincoat and hat in the dead of summer is not my first choice of wardrobe.

In some factions of our society today, critters have far more rights than humans, but in my view some serious seagull genocide wouldn't be a bad thing.
John Collinson
Modulation Limited