Fox Going All-HD With Motorola

There’s just not enough satellite bandwidth up there for Fox to carry its entire programming empire in both HD and SD.

There’s just not enough satellite bandwidth up there for Fox to carry its entire programming empire in both HD and SD. Monday, Fox and Motorola Inc. announced that Fox will transition its satellite distribution to all-HD, with Motorola providing the satellite transmission equipment including compression systems, multiplexors and radios.

The deal covers Fox’s broadcast network, national cable channels, regional sports networks, Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network.

"We realized some time ago that it was inevitable that all TV content was going to be produced and delivered in HD form,” said Andrew G. Setos, president of Engineering for the Fox Group. “With this deployment the Fox programming services have taken a major step in that direction. The Motorola team immediately understood and embraced our vision and designed a system that not only met our needs but that will establish a new benchmark for quality and reliability."

The migration to Motorola technology will start in the first quarter of 2009.

The companies said all-HD distribution will let Fox significantly streamline its distribution infrastructure as it moves from the current mix of SD and HD environments and diverse, multivendor technology platforms to a common all HD-Motorola architecture. The need for parallel SD storage and distribution will be eliminated because Motorola radios will support the real-time conversion of the HD content to the SD format, the companies said.

As part of the migration, Fox will provide its affiliates with Motorola's DSR-6000 commercial digital satellite radios that can derive an SD version of the HD content transmitted by Fox. The Motorola radios will read the standardized Active Format Descriptor information carried with the HD content that specifies the appropriate image composition for 4:3 aspect ratio SD TV sets.

Fox will be able to manage these radios using Motorola's Broadcast Network Control System and will use Motorola's SE-3000 high quality HD encoders. They can perform statistical multiplexing to enable Fox to effectively combine individual HD streams into multiplexes operating with payloads as high as 73 Mbps.

The DSR-6000 radio will convert the appropriate HD stream to the properly formatted SD signal as well as passing the HD signal as ASI or IP. Both the DSR-6000 and the SE-3000 will employ DVB-S2 modulation, enabling the efficient and robust delivery of high quality content via satellite.