RF CURRENT



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.

Issues are dated each Monday, although recently I've needed an extra day or two to complete each issue. Articles may be posted earlier if time permits or if there is a major, breaking story.

<<< Back to October 25 - Issue 188

November 1, 1999 - Issue 189 Final Edition

DTV - SkyTune and Sarnoff Corporation to Develop Low Cost Devices for Reception of ATSC digital broadcasts On PCs (Nov. 1)
DTV and datacasting receiver manufacturer SkyTune and technology research laboratory Sarnoff Corporation announced they would work together "to develop products to add low-cost DTV and datacasting reception to PCs and information appliances. The first product from the combined effort will be the SKY5201, a low-cost, DTV receiver for use in PC-centric ATSC broadcast receivers. SkyTune said engineering samples of receivers using the SKY5201 will be available in mid-2000.

Dr. James E. Carnes, Sarnoff President and CEO, said, "Digital television and datacasting are going to change the way the world views the Internet and television. We're confident that our collaboration with SkyTune will play an important role in building this new medium by creating the technology PCs need to tap its potential. Reliable reception of DTV signals on PCs will quickly establish a mass-market audience for digital video and broadband datacasting." The effort has some ambitious goals. They include:
Gerry Kaufhold, Principal Analyst, Digital Television, at Cahners In-Stat Group, commented that "The SkyTune and Sarnoff alliance adds more credibility to the bright future of ATSC Digital TV, The joint development will accelerate this deployment for the initial market of datacasting and raise expectations moving into the 21st Century."

SkyTune's current product, the SKY951VP, has a digital transport stream interface for VSB, QAM, QPSK and OFDM demodulators, but does not include receiver circuitry. The SKY951VP can also handle NTSC, PAL or SECAM analog video streams. More information is available on the SkyTune web site and in the SkyTune Press Release.

FCC Begins Rulemaking to Consider Digital Terrestrial Audio Broadcasting (Nov. 1)
The FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NRPM) on Digital Audio Broadcasting Systems And Their Impact On the Terrestrial Radio Broadcast Service (Mass Media Docket No. 99-325).

The FCC described two different DAB models in the NPRM. One model includes In-Band On Channel (IBOC) systems, such as those under development by Lucent and U.S. Digital Radio. The other model would assign new spectrum for terrestrial digital audio broadcasting (DAB). The spectrum suggested for the second model is 82-88 MHz, currently TV Channel 6. The NPRM said there was only one DTV assignment on this channel, so it could be made available after the completion of the TV DTV conversion, currently set for 2006. The NPRM compared the IBOC systems and appeared to favor the Lucent system, based on its ability to allow a station to convert to digital only transmission without causing interference to adjacent stations that remain analog.

The FCC asked for comments on utilitizing 10 specific "tentative selection criteria" for DAB:
  1. enhanced audio fidelity
  2. robustness to interference and other signal impairments
  3. compatibility with existing analog service
  4. spectrum efficiency
  5. flexibility
  6. auxiliary capability
  7. extensibility to future technological advances
  8. accommodation for existing AM and FM broadcasters
  9. coverage
  10. implementation costs and affordability of equipment, including costs to consumers of digital receivers and trade-offs between receiver performance and cost

Refer to the FCC News Release FCC Commences Rulemaking to Consider Terrestrial Digital Audio Broadcasting and the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NRPM) on Digital Audio Broadcasting Systems And Their Impact On the Terrestrial Radio Broadcast Service (Mass Media Docket No. 99-325), available as a Word file - fcc99327.doc or text file - fcc99327.txt.

FCC Notice of Proposed Rule Making to Modify DTV Table of Allotments in Albany, GA (Nov. 1)
Waitt License Company of Georgia, L.L.C. (Waitt) has requested the substitution of DTV Channel 12 for its assigned DTV Channel 30. Waitt says this change will reduce the need for modifying existing broadcast towers or constructing new towers. The FCC has found this channel change would meet its requirements. The technical parameters of the modified allotment on Channel 12 would specify an effective radiated power of 60 kW at a height above average terrain of 287 meters.

Interested parties may file comments on or before December 23, 1999. Reply comments are due on or before January 7, 2000. Refer to the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (MM Docket 99-319) for details on the request and information on filing comments.

FCC Notice of Proposed Rule Making to Modify DTV Table of Allotments in Panama City, FL (Nov. 1)
Waitt Licensee Company of Florida, Inc. (Waitt), licensee of WPGX, NTSC Channel 28 in Panama City, Florida, has requested the substitution of DTV Channel 9 for its assigned DTV Channel 29. Waitt states the proposed DTV Channel 9 allotment will be located at the same site as its current WPGX operation and will serve the public interest by reducing the need for modifying existing broadcast towers or constructing new towers. The technical parameters of the modified allotment on Channel 7 would specify an effective radiated power of 100 kW at a height above average terrain of 207 meters.

Interested parties may file comments on or before December 23, 1999. Reply comments are due on or before January 7, 2000. Refer to the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (MM Docket 99-318) for details on the request and information on filing comments.

DTV - Sinclair Responds to CEMA's Opposition and Motion to Dismiss Sinclair's COFDM Petition (Oct. 29)
As reported in the October 25 RF Current, the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association (CEMA) filed an Opposition to Petition for Expedited Rulemaking and Motion for its Immediate Dismissal asking the FCC to decline to accept Sinclair's Petition for Expedited Rulemaking to take action leading to inclusion of COFDM in the U.S. DTV standard. This week, Sinclair responded to CEMA's filing.

Sinclair's Reply to CEMA Opposition and Motion to Dismiss restated several of points made in Sinclair's earlier filings concerning the problems with the ease 8-VSB reception and inability of new 8-VSB receiver chips to solve the problems. Sinclair questioned CEMA's say in this matter, noting:
"As an initial matter, the views of CEMA and its members should carry less weight in the instant debate than the views of broadcasters. CEMA s member companies design, manufacture, distribute, and sell consumer electronics products -- they do not operate licensed TV stations. While CEMA claims that it would have every incentive to change the DTV modulation standard if necessary, CEMA members business goal is currently focused on the sale of expensive digital display equipment, and it is likely irrelevant to these manufacturers overall whether programming is distributed to those devices through cable, satellite, terrestrial broadcasting, or some other means. Rather, it is broadcasters who can be trusted to take the action necessary to preserve free over-the-air broadcasting for the American public."
Sinclair commented that broadcast companies controlling more than 400 commercial and public TV stations have indicated their support for a dual-mode DTV modulation standard.

Regarding the new 8-VSB receiver chips announced by Motorola, NxtWave and others, that CEMA claims are a solution to the reception problems described by Sinclair, Sinclair said, "CEMA s Opposition lacks any hard test data to demonstrate the performance of these chips under real-world, dynamic multipath conditions, and Sinclair can only conclude from such absence that no such data exists. This view is confirmed by recently disclosed minutes from an October 1999 meeting of various 8-VSB proponents that demonstrate that these parties (and certainly CEMA) are fully aware that no foreseeable technological fix will enable 8-VSB performance to match the performance of COFDM-based technology." The meeting notes are available on Dale Cripps HDTV Magazine web site at http://web-star.com/hdtv/atscnotes.html. While this page displays a dialog box asking for a password, the page is displayed behind the dialog box. It may be necessary to hit STOP on the browser to keep the page from changing.

Sinclair also said there is no DTV momentum to lose, since only an estimated 5,000 8-VSB receivers have been sold to consumers and there is a shortage of DTV programming. Sinclair asserts, "A continued chill in the growth of 8- VSB service, if it occurs, will be attributable only to the ongoing 8-VSB reception problems and consumers lack of faith in 8-VSB performance. Similarly, those parties that have already invested in 8- VSB will only be harmed if 8-VSB never permits ease of reception and reliable over-the-air service." In support of COFDM, Sinclair's response argues "The severity of the 8-VSB reception problem and the availability of COFDM technology as a solution cannot be ignored by the Commission and these factors weigh heavily in favor of a new proceeding on these digital modulation issues. Without such action, the preservation of free, local, over-the-air broadcasting will likely be impossible."

An Adobe Acrobat (PDF) version of Sinclair's filing is available on the Sinclair DTV web site.

FCC Notice of Proposed Rule Making to Modify DTV Table of Allotments in Baton Rouge, LA (Oct. 28)
Louisiana Television Broadcasting Corporation (LTBC), licensee of WBRZ, NTSC Channel 2 in Baton Rouge, LA, has requested the substitution of DTV Channel 13 for its assigned DTV Channel 42. LTBC contends the use of channel 13 will permit WBRZ to operate as a full power station during the DTV transition period and will enable it to avoid the cost of purchasing a UHF transmitter. In addition, it will permit the station to replicate a larger portion of its existing service area. The FCC has found this channel change would meet its requirements. The technical parameters of the modified allotment on Channel 13 would specify an effective radiated power of 30 kW at a height above average terrain of 515 meters.

Interested parties may file comments on or before December 20, 1999. Reply comments are due on or before January 4, 2000. Refer to the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (MM Docket 99-317) for details on the request and information on filing comments.

FCC Notice of Proposed Rule Making to Modify DTV Table of Allotments in McAllen, TX (Oct. 27)
Entravision Holdings, licensee of KNVO, NTSC Channel 48 in McAllen, Texas, has requested the substitution of DTV Channel 49 for its assigned DTV Channel 46. Entravision states the use of a first-adjacent position will "ease viewers' abilities to locate the station's new DTV channel and will allow the station to utilize a common antenna system." The FCC has found this channel change would meet its requirements, provided Mexican goverment approval is obtained. The technical parameters of the modified allotment on Channel 49 would specify an effective radiated power of 200 kW at a height above average terrain of 288 meters.

Interested parties may file comments on or before December 20, 1999. Reply comments are due on or before January 4, 2000. Refer to the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (MM Docket 99-315) for details on the request and information on filing comments.

DIGITAL TELEVISION STATION ACTIONS - See ac991029.txt for more information

Call (DT) Ch. Licensee Location ERP (kW) HAAT (m) Antenna
WMFD 68 Mid-State Television Mansfield OH 4.8 (mod) No change Cablewave RD-2V0
KTXA 18 Paramount Stations Fort Worth TX 220 535 Dielectric TFU-24GTH-R S200


DIGITAL TELEVISION STATION ACTIONS - See ac991028.txt for more information

Call (DT) Ch. Licensee Location ERP (kW) HAAT (m) Antenna
WPXT 4 HMW Portland ME 5.5 265 Dielectric THP-O
KGIN 32 KOLN/KGIN License Grand Island NE 830.6 273.8 Dielectric TFU-30DSC-R 03
WITN 32 WITN License Washington DC 795 594.4 Dielectric TFU-30GTH-04


DIGITAL TELEVISION STATION ACTIONS - See ac991027.txt for more information

Call (DT) Ch. Licensee Location ERP (kW) HAAT (m) Antenna
KRCA 68 KRCA License Riverside CA 200 922
WNJB 8 NJ Public BC Authority New Brunswick NJ 4.5 221 Non-directional
WMBC 18 Mountain B'cstg Newton NJ 50 Non-directional
WEHS 66 USA Station Group Aurora IL 200 494 Alan Dick Q5-9-189
KNTV 12 KNTV License San Jose CA 8.9 834 Andrew ATW2VO-HTO-12
WHSP 66 USA Station Group Vineland NJ 200 280 Dielectric TFU-18DSC-R CT3
WBBH 15 Waterman B/C Fort Myers FL 215 418.7 Dielectric TUP-SP3-8-1
KOLN 25 KOLN/KGIN License Lincoln NE 679.8 425.2 Dielectric TFU-30DSC-R 03
KBWB 19 KOFY-TV License San Francisco CA 200 428 San Francisco CA


OTHER Items of Interest

>>>>Next November 8 - Issue 190


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Last modified November 14, 1999 by Doug Lung dlung@transmitter.com
Copyright 1999 H. Douglas Lung