Yogi’s fork dilemma

Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Perhaps it is good advice, but which way is better?

The January Consumer Electronics Show (CES) represents all things digital. It is one huge toy store with more new technology than even the NAB Show. A key part of the exhibit is new television-set technology. These TV sets are one-half of the delivery platform. Broadcasters are the other half. Because our industry has no control in the TV manufacturing process, we pretty much have to take our lead from those who do — the consumer equipment manufacturers.

Of course, these geniuses don’t always get the formula right. As an example, a recent local newspaper was filled with holiday advertising inserts. Among the ads for clothing, jewelry and toys were numerous advertisements for television sets. It was curious that only two of those ads mentioned a 3-D television. Instead, this year’s TV sales spotlight was on LED HDTVs, and the bigger the better! Go back only two years, and one might have thought 3-D television was the next great revolution. I suggest, in that case, TV set makers chose the wrong fork in the road.

The broadcast and consumer industries need each other to be successful. You can broadcast (some day) 3-D imagery all day long. But, if there are no receivers available, you’re wasting expensive electricity. The consumer industry can manufacture 3-D TV sets, but those sets won’t sell unless there is plenty of easily available content, which there is not. This represents the kind of decisions and challenges TV engineers and managers must face.

To help readers keep up with this changing landscape, Broadcast Engineering has scheduled several in-depth reports to help you better understand tomorrow’s content delivery issues. Starting in January, we will begin a regular series of articles on the next generation of broadcast technology. January’s article is a tutorial on ATSC 3.0, tomorrow’s delivery platform.

Also, last October, we launched a new blog titled, “Ask The Experts.” The goal is to encourage engineers to share problems and solutions in this space. The posts are written by Broadcast Engineering production editor Curtis Kitchen, a sports enthusiast who also operates his own blog space. If you have technical questions or need help, post your thoughts in that blog, and someone in our wide audience probably has a solution. The dialog is open and free, and some good conversations have already surfaced. All readers are encouraged to participate.

My point is that sometimes when faced with a binary choice like Yogi Berra’s “fork in the road,” you might wish you could take both. Life is seldom that easy.

Brad Dick, editorial director