Globe editorial calls FM radio "outdated technology"

John Mullaney
Tue Aug 31 08:17:31 EDT 2010

Well you would be a conspiracy theorist because the cable industry's biggest
complaint about HDTV since day one was they were not invited to the table
when the standard was being devolved as if the OTA folks didn't think they
mattered. It's the very reason today that cable companies are having so much
trouble coming up with the bandwidth necessary to deliver enough HD channels
and the same reason they will never be able to pass all HD TV. The absolute
craziest part of the standard is how there was no sync method built in to
keep audio and video tracked across equipment or the separate paths that
happen within Network, Local or Cable TV facilities and transmission paths.
This is why you often see the two way out of whack during live programs even
the superbowl. This causes Cable and others all sorts of problems downstream
often with humans trying to line them back up by eye. This standard will
also spell the end of "the must carry rule" making many cable systems burst
at the seams. The competition across the country to bring large numbers of
HD channels to customers will force many to use compression technologies
they'd rather not just to satisfy consumers crying for more HD. Locally
Comcast is not compressing HD currently (Contrary to what many folks
believe..) but I wonder how long they will be able to keep that up as
consumers continue to cry for the same HD line ups that other carriers both
satellite and cable are delivering who are? All of this didn't have to
happen if the cablelab folks (who develop the cable standards) had been
invited in during the HDTV standards development. Was the TV industry living
in the past when they felt cable companies didn't matter or actually thought
that over the air reception would make an incredible come back? Whatever TV
was thinking it was incredibly short sighted to push an HDTV standard they
wanted on the folks that deliver the signal to 80% of their customers
without any regard to their current technology or their capabilities to
expand. It's all part of this continuing feeling broadcast TV is carrying
from years ago that it doesn't really need cable and sees it as some sort of
leach but I think soon cable will be reminding broadcasters it doesn't
really need them. Soon it will be hard to figure out who is slapping the
hand that feeds who.

-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of
Sent: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 6:22 AM
To: A Joseph Ross;
Subject: Re: Globe editorial calls FM radio "outdated technology"

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

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