Digital Is Revved And Ready!

Who says the digital transition is stalled? Not me, nor most of the industry people I've spoken to. The general consensus is that the engine is cranked up and ready to go. The real problem it seems, is that too many people are focusing on the negative aspects of the transition because it's more interesting to talk about a race car that can't get off the blocks than a finely tuned engine that's ready to roll.

True, most U.S. television stations did not make the FCC's May deadline. First of all, this was expectedÑby everybody who knew anything about how the industry and the FCC work. Secondly, transmission is only one area of a broad and complex process. Transmission however, I am quick to point out, is the one aspect of the transition over which the government has oversight.

The rest of the digital transitionÑthe much larger and ultimately more complex component of the digital broadcast engineÑis humming along nicely. Aside from getting new transmitters and towers and all the local and federal regulatory approvals that go with that sort of thing, most stations are well into their digital transition in regards to their production and post-production areas, and in the control of their digital signals.

At the recent NAB convention, the latest product introductions were uniformly digital or designed to deal with the digital domain, from lenses to cameras to recorders. On the production side, digital cameras abounded, with the big companies offering lower priced HD cameras, promising that more and more productions will be acquired on that medium. This development surely pushes digital adoption in other areas of the signal and program chain.

Post production, of course, has been digital for some time now, a trend originally sparked by greater computer power and better software from the low end and high definition and more advanced capabilities with the dedicated platforms. The practice of giving each new digital product its own IP address is gaining momentum. Sony made careful note of this, and other manufacturers are following its lead. This is another solid indicator that the digital race is already underway. These are amazing and enabling digital advancements that broadcasters can and are adopting, but most people aren't watching because they are too busy complaining.

Add to that the recent uptick in sales of servers and the broader acceptance of digital asset management systems across the board and, ladies and gentleman, I believe you could say the transition has left the starting gate. Now, if we can get the people in the industry to notice and get consumers to pay for their tickets, we could cross the finish line.

In "NAB 2002: Special Report" (March 2002), ADC was listed as being the same company as Axcera. While the company has divested itself of certain product lines, ADC remains the broadband company, headquartered in Minneapolis, MN.