NAB 2009: Active Format Description Deployments Grows

LAS VEGAS: Fox, NBC Universal and PBS have deployed active format description technologies at more than 350 television stations nationwide. In addition, more than 40 broadcast equipment manufacturers are showcasing their AFD-ready gear at this week’s NAB Show, including Evertz, Harmonic, Harris, K-Tech, R.L. Drake, Tandberg Television, Miranda and Sencore.

Television networks, stations, cable, satellite and telco providers use AFD technologies to ensure that consumers receive a properly formatted picture as they downconvert widescreen, 16:9 aspect ratio high-definition signals for distribution to their standard definition audiences, who have legacy 4:3 aspect ratio displays.

At last year’s NAB Show, a consortium of broadcasters announced the AFD Ready Initiative to ensure uniform and optimum delivery of television broadcasts after the 2009 DTV transition.

“AFD gives stations control over how content is formatted for their entire audience, and helps to ensure a consistent, high quality viewing experience,” said Ian Trombley, executive vice president of media distribution services for NBC Universal. “There’s still more work to do, but we’re extremely pleased by how widely this technology has been embraced by equipment manufacturers and cable operators. In fact, we’ve just completed a full-scale upgrade of our network distribution equipment at 180 of our NBC Affiliates that enables AFD.”

Andrew G. Setos, president of engineering, The Fox Group, said that Fox Broadcasting is routinely inserting AFD into all its primetime and sports programming in more than 170 markets.

John McCoskey, PBS chief technology officer, said PBS has been working for the past 9 months with the AFD Ready Initiative and its 170 member stations to test and implement this key technology. This ongoing process will begin at the end of April.

Graham Jones, director of communications engineering, science and technology for the NAB will be chairing an engineering conference session on Wednesday, April 22 from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. titled, “Loudness, Lipsync and AFD for DTV.” The NAB session will include a discussion on a variety AFD topics. – from TV Technology