News - October 2002 Issue

IBC: Industry Health & Technology

"Ha!" That must have been what IBC President John Wilson thought when he found out 40,400 people came to IBC2002. According to him, attendance exceeded forecasts by "delivering a targeted, focused, and high-quality audience as well as growing numbers." Comparing attendance to 2001, however, is fairly pointless, as the events of September 11 affected the ability of many to attend IBC last year.

What was obvious this year was that exhibitors sent less staff to cover the show and the number of on-the-floor sales announcements was smaller than usual. While some manufacturers reported a good show, others from the U.S. questioned whether they would return next year, as the costs associated with exhibiting at IBC increase.

Avid decided to forgo IBC this year and do a road show in its place--with other exhibitors split on whether this was a good move or not. Most exhibitors' comments about their future participation in IBC were off the record.

For more on IBC, see the expanded version of this article at

--Michael Silbergleid


After chastising representatives of the broadcast, cable, and consumer electronics industries in a recent hearing before the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-LA) looks to be backing down for now on his push to move the digital television transition forward. The hearing was in regards to a draft bill penned by Tauzin and John Dingell (D-MI) (see which, among other things, threatened legislation mandating all broadcasters hand back their analog spectrum by 2006, even if less than 85% of a particular market is capable of receiving a digital signal. Now Tauzin has stated he will wait until the next Congress before introducing formal legislation in this matter.

It is likely Tauzin has softened due to criticism of the bill at the hearing as well as because of the obvious disputes that still need to be solved within the industry. At the hearing, the NAB made it clear it opposed doing away with the 85% rule.

Meanwhile, representatives of the NCTA said broadcasters should reject their "must carry schemes" and instead concentrate on creating compelling digital programming to bring in more viewers.

The CEA expressed concerns about the provision of the draft that would ban analog outputs by July 1, 2005.

Although Tauzin will no doubt get back up on the soap box during the next Congress, it looks like he finally understands being FCC Chairman is not as easy as it looks.

--Sarah Stanfield

Nebraska Tower Collapse Kills 2

Two workers were killed and three injured when a 1,965-foot television tower in Nebraska collapsed. The workers were making repairs to the roof of the transmission station at the bottom of the structure, as well as strengthening it in order to equip it with digital transmission equipment. At press time, the cause of the collapse was unknown. The tower was the tallest structure in the state, and belonged to KDUH-TV, an ABC affiliate in Scottsbluff. Only 50 feet of the tower remained standing.

--Sarah Stanfield

AAF Awareness

The AAF Association, with event hosts Fox News Technology, Liberty Livewire, The Post Group, Warner Bros., and Disney, is sponsoring an AAF Technology Awareness Event, November 19, 2002, at the Autry Museum of Western Heritage in Los Angeles. This high level event provides an opportunity for executives to learn about the Advanced Authoring Format, hear vendor case studies of AAF practical applications, view multiple vendor demonstrations and interoperable real solutions, attend targeted breakout sessions (Programmers & Manufacturers, System Architects, and Asset Management & Workflow Tool Developers), and meet members of the AAF Association.

See for registration information.

Empire State To The Rescue. Not.

The Empire State Building (ESB) has pledged to provide the power, space, and infrastructure necessary to permanently accommodate all the television and FM broadcasters in the New York metropolitan area who once transmitted from the World Trade Center. Too bad the Metropolitan Television Alliance (MTVA), which is seeking to rebuild a TV tower to replace the one destroyed in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, says that's just a pipe dream.

In a press release recently issued by the building's management, ESB asserted that by using it as the permanent site for both analog and digital television transmission, the MTVA could save significant time and money. It also stated that it is adding 16,700 amps of electricity to allow full analog and digital transmission by broadcasters by mid-2003 as well as providing engineering specifications that broadcasters can undertake to secure the structural strength necessary for its antenna to be a permanent broadcast center for all TV and FM broadcasters.

MTVA President Ed Grebow, however, says there's no way ESB will be the permanent site. "The building doesn't have the structural capacity, the electrical power, space, or height, to be our permanent location," he said. But one technical consultant in the industry, who wished to remain anonymous, says that's not necessarily true. He says when CBS originally built its digital facilities on the ESB, they were specifically designed to accommodate all the New York digital broadcasters. He also said that broadband antennas that can carry all New York digital broadcasters are readily available. Thus, the mast would actually carry less load than it used to, not more.

--Sarah Stanfield