RF CURRENT - December 1995

Welcome to RF Current, a weekly electronic newsletter focusing on Broadcast technical and F.C.C. related issues. This newsletter is part of The RF Page @ www.transmitter.com, a web site devoted to TV Broadcast RF engineering. For more information see the What is... guide to the R.F. Page site.

This page contains stories from RF Current issues published in December 1995. Links referenced in the articles were current when published but by this time may have changed. If you find a bad link, try connecting to the home page of the publication or company and look for an archive of past articles.

December 18, 1995 - Issue 6 Final

FCC - Spectrum auctions will continue even if the government closes (Dec. 15)
In a Public Notice (pnwl5144.txt) the FCC announced "The Broadband PCS C Block auction will commence on December 18, 1995, and will not be affected in the event of a government shutdown after midnight on December 15, 1995. The MDS and SMR auctions will also continue as scheduled. Therefore, all bidding rounds announced for December 18, 1995 and thereafter will take place as scheduled."
FCC to hold en banc hearing on spectrum policy January 31 (Dec. 15)
In a Public Notice (pnwl5143.txt) released today the FCC said it would hear oral presentations on spectrum policy and management affecting TV and radio broadcasting as well as other services. The hearing will focus on these topics: Future Spectrum Demand and User Needs, Technology Trends, and Spectrum Allocation and Assignment Approaches.
DIGITAL - ViewCall America to test "Information Appliance" set-top box. (Dec 15)
ViewCall America's "WEBster" TV set-top box allows consumers to have direct access to the Internet and other on-line services through their TV sets. The box is expected to sell for under $300. Tests begin in January '96 with Northern Telecom (Nortel).
NAB Online reports White House Budget will place a "TV Tax" on consumers. (Dec. 13)
The December 13 issue of NAB Online reports the the White House's budget proposal would shorten the time period broadcasters have to switch to digital transmission. The proposal would auction off broadcasters' analog channels in 2003 and require broadcasters to give back the analog spectrum in 2005. The NAB story stated that the "NAB considers this provision a 'TV tax' and is fighting hard to kill it."

December 11, 1995 - Issue 5 Final

FCC begins Internet distribution of broadcast actions and applications. (Dec. 8)
The FCC's daily Public Notices of broadcast actions and applications are now available on the Internet in the Mass Media Bureau's Public Notice directory. Here are the links: For my complete listing of FCC links for broadcasters, check out FCC Links - The RF Page FCC Navigator
FCC seeks comment on revised market definition for cable must-carry (Dec. 8)
In a News Release (file nrcb5022.txt) the FCC sought comment on how to define broadcast markets now that Arbitron has ceased designation of ADI's (Area of Dominant Influence). While the Nielsen DMAs (Designated Market Areas) is available as a substitute, differences could result in reconsideration of past must-carry / retransmission-consent cases. The FCC proposes keeping the existing Arbitron ADI market definition through the 1996 election period then switching to the Nielsen DMA definition. The Release stated: "The Commission seeks comment on the above alternatives as well as suggestions for any other alternatives that would better accomplish the market definition objectives of the must-carry\retransmission rules."
FCC Proposes to expand use of biomedical telemetry on TV channels (Dec. 8)
From Dec. 8 FCC Daily Digest: "The FCC is proposing to amend Part 15 of the Commission's rules to expand the available frequencies and increase the permitted power for unlicensed biomedical telemetry devices operating on VHF and UHF television channels. Action by the Commission December 5, 1995, by NPRM (FCC 95-488)." In spite of reference to a news release, I've found no data on this on the FCC web site as of Dec. 10. I'll have more information as it becomes available - DL.
FCC announces schedule for Dec. 12th ATV hearing (Dec. 6)
The FCC released its schedule for the Federal Communications Commission's December 12, 1995, en banc hearing on Advanced Television, MM Docket No. 87-268. Topics include: "Commercial Opportunities of Digital Broadcast", "The Public Interest, Convenience and Necessity", "Digital Applications" and "Impact on Consumers". The list of panelists reads like a Who's Who in Broadcasting. This hearing is open to the public. (Note from Doug Lung - If you attend, please take time to give me a call at 305-884-9664 or send an email to dlung@gate.net with your observations and news from the hearing.)
TECHNOLOGY - "Browseable, Searchable Television" reports PC Mag. (Dec. 5)
Read PC Magazine's on-line trends article titled Browseable, Searchable Television on Bell Labs work in developing software to sample pictures from TV shows and store significantly different frames. For example, a news story might only have one picture of a news anchor, but would include frames from graphics and frames from different scenes of a live shot. Text would be stored along with the graphics, creating a large, searchable database of TV shows. At some point there should be be demo available on the Bell Labs web site.
FCC - Chairman Hundt Announces Closed Captioning Inquiry (Dec. 5)
FCC Chairman Reed Hundt's speech on ACCESS TO THE NEW FRONTIER, subtitled "Two Meanings of FCC: Fostering Community Through Communications and Furthering Closed Captioning", outlined the Commission's plans to promote closed captioning and video description of video programming. Hundt, while realizing the costs to broadcasters to provide these services, wants to see if there is a way the FCC can encourage or require networks and broadcasters to increase them. The speech delivered at the CPB/WGBH National Center For Accessible Media in Boston.

December 4, 1995 - Issue 4 Final

CABLE - The Internet was everywhere at cable's Western Show! (Nov. 30)
One thing should have been obvious to anyone wondering through the booths at the Western Show -- On-line access via cable was hot! Zenith showed cable modems connected to the Internet, America On Line and Compuserve. LANcity Corporation had an impressive display of 10 Mbs. Internet and local LAN connectivity using cable TV wiring. Earlier I reported on the Intercasttm group's efforts at digital over TV (cable or broadcast). At the Western Show I had a chance to play with it at the Intel display. Calling up the RF Page, I thought the download time was the same or slightly slower than with my 28.8K modem link. George Peden from Intel said that might be due to delays on the network feed they were using. The vertical blanking interval encoders used were from Norpack and are capable of data rates exceeding 9.6Kb per vertical interval line. Three VBI lines should give speeds equal or better than that of 28.8Kb modems. Electronic Engineering Times daily news has an article that reports the "Cable industry pushes interactive aside in favor of modems..." in this week's edition.
SATELLITE - GI pushes Digicipher II at the Western Show (Nov. 30)
General Instrument was demonstrating its Digicipher II video compression system at the Western Show. Some of the features of interest in this system include the ability to transmit VITS signals. Static test signals can be spread over multiple fields so that they have little impact on the compression ratio. If you haven't seen any Digicipher II units in the field, its because they are still under development. The first application is likely to be TCI's "Head End in the Sky" or HITS system. G.I. expects to have Digicipher II, including "i for j" redundancy, complete sometime in the second half of 1995. G.I. has collected a wealth of information on MPEG 2 in general and Digicipher II in specific on the news page of their web site. Several other vendors had compression equipment on display at the show, including veterans CLI and Scientific Atlanta.
TV GHOST cancelling boxes to go on sale May 96 (Nov. 30)
As usual, Philips was demonstrating its ghost cancelling technology at the Western Show in Anaheim. The difference this year was that they were talking price and delivery. The external set-top "ImageLock" ghost cancelling box uses the GCR signal most broadcasters are already transmitting. The targeted price for the external boxes was quoted at $130. Later in the year the circuitry should show up in 26" and larger TV sets by Magnavox. One of the reasons for the delay was Phillips waited for another chip company to design and build the chips. The Oren Semiconductor chip will be used in these boxes. Now that the chip has been tested Philips is confident consumers will be able to purchase a ghost cancelling box by mid 96. Other consumer TV manufacturers are expected to license the technology. More information on ghost cancelling is available from these links:
CABLE - 1995 Western Show opens (Nov. 29)
Digital cable modems and computers attached to the World Wide Web were a main attraction at the 1995 Western (Cable) Show. More details in later reports.
FCC Adopts New Antenna Rules and Regulations (Nov. 29)
The FCC annouced it had adopted a new streamlined procedure under which owners will register antenna structures that require clearance by the FAA and special painting and lighting because of aviation safety concerns. For the most part, the owner of the tower, not the licensees leasing space on it, will be responsible for registering the tower and conforming with FCC and FAA regulations. Full details are available in the News Release nrwl5042.txt. The full text of the order March 1998
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