Globe editorial calls FM radio "outdated technology"

Tue Aug 31 06:22:07 EDT 2010

My understanding is that the problems with OTA (over-the-air) DTV
(digital TV) reception in the US are, by and large, the result of the
US's adoption of 8-VSB (eight-level vestigital-sideband) modulation.
In most of the rest of the world (I don't know about Canada and
Mexico), the DTV modulation standard is COFDM (coded orthogonal
frequency-division multiplexing). If I were a conspiracy theorist, I
would say that the Cable TV industry, which, for obvious reasons,
wants to do away with OTA TV, was behind the choice of 8-VSB. In any
event, I do not believe that the TV receivers now sold in the US (and
maybe anywhere else) are able to receive both types of modulation,
although it ought to be easily possible to add a separate COFDM
demodulator. However, after spending billions of dollars on the forced
conversion from NTSC (National Television Standards Committee) analog
TV to 8-VSB-based ATSC (Advanced Television Standards Committee) DTV,
there is zero chance of the US changing TV standards. That makes
ATSC/8-VSB the only game in town in the US for however long we still
have OTA terrestrial DTV.

If I don't have my facts straight, please feel free to correct me. I
know that the choice of 8-VSB was supposedly forced by the need for a
system that could share channels with ATSC during the transition
period, and, it was claimed, COFDM was incapable of that. I am
skeptical of such claims, however. And in the absence of some kind of
unpublicized pressure, I cannot understand how any engineer in his
right mind would accept the premise that people who were unable or
unwilling to pay for cable would construct 40' masts for mounting
their TV antennas. If you are able to reliably receive OTA DTV with
just an indoor antenna, consider yourself extremly lucky. The ATSC
system in no way guarantees such reception--even in the
strongest-signal areas.

Dan Strassberg (
eFax 1-707-215-6367

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "A Joseph Ross" <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, August 30, 2010 11:04 PM
Subject: Re: Globe editorial calls FM radio "outdated technology"

>  On 8/30/2010 12:38 AM, Dave Doherty wrote:
>> The point is that all stations - AM / FM / TV  - need to have a
>> voice in the digital delivery world. I really don't care what
>> device you use to listen to my stations, I want you to be able to
>> hear them. That means we need digital transmission standards,
>> carrier-neutral transmission, and devices that adhere to, or at
>> least accept, those standards.
> I don't see why.  For all I can tell, digital transmission, at least
> over the air, is far more subject to interference than analog,
> making many people's reception, since the government-forced
> changeover, much more problematic, even  nonexistent.
> I first saw color TV in the Museum of Science in 1955 or 56.  The
> picture quality was very bad, and the same was true of every color
> set I saw for the next several years (usually in TV stores).  Black
> and white pictures on early color sets had a greenish tint and were
> inferior to pictures on a B&W set.  But the acceptance of color
> depended on the market, not on a government mandate.  As color TVs
> got better, and the price came down, more and more people started to
> buy them.  Their market penetration was natural as the product got
> better.  Digital radio and TV should also have to compete and win
> customers by offering an attractive product.
> -- 
> A. Joseph Ross, J.D.                     617.367.0468
> 92 State Street, Suite 700          Fax: 617.507.7856
> Boston, MA 02109-2004

More information about the Boston-Radio-Interest mailing list