Thoughts and viewpoints from Broadcast Engineering’s readers
Recently, the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York found the FCC's indecency policy to be unconstitutional. Regarding the ruling, some of our readers had this to say:
Some regulation needed
I am not in favor of an abundance of government regulation, but in some areas it is needed. This decision is just one more chip in the standards of decency. TV and radio stations are not obtained outside of and brought into the home in a knowing act like a book or newspaper. They are available to all in the living room, den, kitchen and even bedrooms (of children) at the turn of a switch or press of a button. A greater level of control on the content is really needed.
This does not take away from free speech. The foul speaking among us are still completely free to say what we want. But the TV and radio stations, operating on a license, should be careful of how much of that content they bring into our houses.
There isn't a single station out there that does not choose what news to air and what not to air. It would be far more helpful to require them to air all opposing opinions in such matters than it is to require or allow them to air obscene speech and indecent “costume failures.”
As to how this is to be accomplished, a five- to 10-second delay with a silence or black switch should be quite easy in this day and age. I have done it for video using 2in VTRs in the old days, and it worked just fine. A simple digital box could do it today for almost no cost.
FCC did violate Constitution
It might be added that the FCC in these cases violated at least the spirit of our constitutional protection against retroactive laws (Art I, Sec 9 & 10). The FCC altered its own regulations as to fleeting expletives, and as to what entities would be held responsible for them, and then applied the new regulations retroactively to instances that had occurred prior to the changes being made or promulgated. The court's ruling only slightly ameliorates the deadly effect of broadcasters now knowing that anything they do may become the subject of some future rule change that may then be applied retroactively with ruinous fines.
Video network security
During the Q&A of the August Broadcast Engineering webcast on MPEG monitoring and analysis, this question came up.
Are PTS needed continuously to insure proper lip sync, or will PCR maintain lip sync once PTS achieves it?
Aldo Cugnini responds:
In effect, a receiver uses the PCR to generate the local clock, and the PTS is used to sync up the audio and video. Once they're locked, the clocks will run together for a long time.
But the problem is that if there are transmission or buffer errors that compromise the streams, and the receiver can't get the PTS often enough, it might lose sync and then re-establish it out of spec. So the PTS must be sent at the required interval.
Promoting mobile TV
In the August issue of Broadcast Engineering, editorial director Brad Dick wrote about promoting mobile TV, which prompted this response.
The idea that broadcasters need to promote the pending ATSC mobile TV service is obvious, but given their track record promoting HDTV from when it was first launched in 1998, I have low expectations for this essential effort.
It was amusing in the early days of HDTV broadcasting when the local stations in Los Angeles would “promote” HDTV by airing such ads only on the HDTV channels, not the NTSC channels the vast majority of the public were still viewing. The only people who saw the promos were people like me who already had HDTV receivers. Brilliant! By all accounts, few residents of Los Angeles County even knew there was OTA HDTV until just a few years ago. Most everyone thought HDTV was only available from satellite and cable companies, even broadband.
Unless the Open Mobile Video Coalition vigorously (and I mean with financial gusto) coordinates an industrywide effort to inform the public via OTA, cable, satellite, Internet, newspapers and other media advertising outlets that ATSC M/H is just around the corner, it will languish amongst oblivious souls as did broadcast HDTV for many years and possibly be overtaken by newer delivery means yet to be devised. At least have the local station newscasters talk it up once a week at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. That's free! Lesson learned?