Half of public stations miss DTV sign-on deadline

More than half of the country’s 357 public TV stations missed
the May 1 deadline to begin digital broadcasting, according to
APTS. As of late last week, only 163—just 46 percent of public
TV stations—had launched their DTV signals. Not that it matters much. The 194 public stations that failed to flip
the switch are eligible to petition the FCC for two six-month extensions. When commercial stations faced their deadline a year ago, two-thirds
missed it and the FCC freely issued waivers.

FCC rejects petition to alter DTV modulation standard

The argument over the digital TV standard will continue, though the FCC tried to put it away Feb. 4 [2000], unanimously denying Sinclair Broadcast Group’s petition to permit the use of a different transmitter modulation scheme. Public TV has taken no official position on the issue — engineering managers in the system are divided on the issue. Though informal Sinclair tests found that first-generation DTV receivers have trouble getting pictures with indoor antennas, the FCC said in its letter to the Baltimore-based station chain, “we believe that Sinclair has done no more than to demonstrate a shortcoming of early DTV receiver implementation, rather than a basic flaw in the ATSC standard . .

Uneasy dilemma for public TV: stick with DTV standard?

Which would be worse? Raising ungrounded fears about DTV technology that spook the public and delay the transition for years? Or ignoring those worries and finding out later that the system is a dog? Public TV’s engineers are divided on question of reopening the three-year-old U.S. standard for DTV transmission, a course of action championed by Sinclair Broadcast Group and now festering on the body technological. “I’m conflicted — it’s a thing that an engineer doesn’t like to be,” admits Bruce Jacobs, chief technology officer at KTCA in Twin Cities.

Gore panel endorses adding educational DTV channels

An extra digital TV channel should be reserved in every community for noncommercial
educational purposes, the Gore Commission recommended last week in its report to the White House. These channels, the usual 6 MHz wide, would be granted more than seven years from now, or whenever broadcasters turn back their old analog channels to the FCC. The expected recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters was one of the most concrete in a report constructed of compromises between seven commercial broadcasters and 13 other members of the committee. Co-chairmen Norman Ornstein and Les Moonves “were trying very hard to get a consensus, which is a good goal, but I think the splits were simply too wide,” said Newton Minow, a committee member, last week. “The result is, you get the lowest common denominator.”

More, deeper, broader: where ‘enhanced’ DTV goes

If you were among a certain handful of people watching the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick bio Frank Lloyd Wright Nov. 10–11, you could get a whole lot more from the broadcast after
it was over. Most people watching the two-night series saw only a stylized “E” icon appear
briefly in the corner of the screen (with the disclosure “where available”),
reminding viewers that the program was “enhanced.” But there was more for viewers watching on specially equipped personal computers in the
seven cities where public TV stations were putting out DTV signals. As participants in a
technical trial by Intel Corp.

FCC gives public TV 6 years to go digital

The year 2003 doesn’t seem so far off when you’ve got plenty to do in the meantime. Between now and then, public TV will raise funds for, install and turn on hundreds of
digital TV transmitters. In its order mandating a speeded-up digital transition, adopted April 3 [1997], the FCC
gave public TV stations six years to add digital signals–at least a year longer than
commercial stations. Some pubcasters will go digital long before that and others will have
trouble doing it at all. Responding to urgings from America’s Public Television Stations and other commenters,
the commission reduced power inequities among stations.