MSTV Fall Conference: All Things DTV

FCC Digital Task Force Chairman Rick Chessen delivered a state-of-the-DTV-transition address today void of any specifics on the broadcast flag, other than to reiterate that the commission intends to finish it any day now.

Chessen appeared at the 17th Annual MSTV Fall Conference held at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Washington D.C. He enumerated several DTV issues before the commission, including digital must-carry, signal degradation, low-power TV and the 85-percent analog shut-off threshold.

On digital must-carry, Chessen said the agency has just started mulling an "either/or" option, that is, carriage for either an analog or a digital broadcast signal, rather than both. Also, non-video bits will be part of any must-carry equation, he said.

"The focus is on the primary streams," he said, "but we must consider data, and which bits should be carried."

Signal degradation will be another factor in must-carry consideration. While cable operators are not supposed to degrade a signal, they say 12 Mpbs is sufficient for a 19Mbps broadcast signal, Chessen said.

"Material degradation is subjection. We would love to hear from you on that," he told the broadcasters present.

The DTV Task Force is also working on the Biennial Review, in which LPTV coverage areas will be looked at more closely, required simulcasting may be reconsidered, and a clearer definition of the 85-percent analog shut-off threshold will be hammered out. Also, a digital transition plan for the roughly 700 translators in the country-whether by flash cut or a second allotment-will be addressed, he said.