CHAPTER 24, Inc., MADISON, WI
Edited by: Mike Norton
Electronic Version: Leonard Charles
Contents for this Newsletter
About this Newsletter
NEWSLETTER EDITOR'S STATS
The Chapter 24 Newsletter is published monthly by Chapter 24 of the Society of Broadcast Engineers; Madison, Wisconsin. Submissions of interest to the broadcast technical community are welcome. You can make your submissions by e-mail to: Mike_Norton@wetn.pbs.org
SBE Chapter 24 Newsletter Editor
Please submit text file on DOS or Windows 3.5" floppy diskette if possible.
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Thursday August 22, 1996
SBE CHAPTER 24 MADISON, WISCONSIN
OLYMPIC STORIES FROM TOKEN CREEK PRODUCTIONS
Dutch Treat Dinner at J.T. Whitney's at 5:30pm
J.T. Whitney's is located at 674 South Whitney Way
Meeting/Program at 7PM at Grassland Media at 7:00pm
Grassland Media is located at 555 Science Drive, Suite A
John Salswedel of Token Creek Productions has just returned from the Olympics in Atlanta. John has stories about his Atlanta adventures and will show us the new additions to the Token Creen truck, including new BTS cameras.
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Tentative Program Subjects
Tue, Sep 24, 1996
Wed, Oct 30, 1996
Wed, Nov 20, 1996
Tue, Dec 17, 1996
Wed, Jan 22, 1997
Thu, Feb 20, 1997
Tue, Mar 18, 1997
Wed, Apr 16, 1997
Thu, May 22, 1997
Tue, Jun 17, 1997
Sat, Jul 26, 1997
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JULY BUSINESS MEETING MINUTES
Submitted by Neal McLain, Secretary
Chapter 24 of the Society of Broadcast Engineers met on Saturday, July 27, 1996, at Greenfield Park, in Fitchburg, Wisconsin. There were 12 persons in attendance, 8 of whom were certified. The meeting was chaired by Chapter 24 Chairman Paul Stoffel.
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CHAPTER PICNIC WRAPUP
By Denise Maney
Another successful annual SBE picnic has come and gone. The hungry crowds started to show up about noon. Lots of sandwiches, potato salad, and chips were Enjoyed.
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FCC ADVANCES DIGITAL TV
By Tom Smith
The FCC took up the allocation issue in it's July 25th meeting. The FCC adopted a proposed table of allocations for digital television that it will seek comment on. The new allocations would be based on a station's current transmitter site. As part of that proposed table, all unused NTSC allocations will be deleted and no new NTSC TV applications will be accepted after 30 days of this order being published in the FEDERAL REGISTER. The FCC will not accept request's for new NTSC allocations as of the date of the adoption of this order which occurred at the July 25th meeting.
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by Tom Smith
MM Docket No. 95-42, FCC 96-274
Digital Data Transmission Within the Video Portion of TV Broadcast Station Transmissions
The FCC has amended the rules to allow for TV stations to transmit additional data signals within it's signal. Stations had been limited to data transmission within it's vertical interval such as closed captioning. The Commission will now allow data to be inserted in the horizontal blanking area as proposed by the YES Entertainment Corporation. They will also allow sub-video transmission of data as proposed by WavePhore and Digideck. The WavePhore system places data in an area of the video signal between the color subcarrier and the sound carrier and the Digideck system places the data signal in the lower sideband. Both systems carry between 300 and 500 kilobits of information. Nielsen's rating tracking system was also approved. The FCC did not allow for the use of any other system.
The FCC adopted these rules on June 21, 1996 and released them on June 28, 1996. They were effective on July 10, 1996 and published in the FEDERAL REGISTER on July 10,1996 on pages 36303-36305. (From the FEDERAL REGISTER)
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1995 SBE CHAPTER AWARDS ANNOUNCED
by Paul Stoffel
The SBE National Awards Committee has announced the recipients of the 1995 CHAPTER AWARDS. Locally, Chapter 24 received four awards in the following categories:
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By Leonard Charles
As the night of party hats and noise makers draws near, broadcasters cannot forget that New Years Day 1997 signals more than the start of another calendar. All broadcasters must have EAS equipment installed and operating on that festive day.
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EAS WORKSHOP HELD
By Paul Stoffel
Chapter 24's EAS Committee sponsored a Local Emergency Alert System Workshop on Wednesday, June 5th in Madison. The Local Workshop brought
together 51 people, including radio and television broadcasters, cable operators, emergency government officials, National Weather Service representatives, and sheriff departments to discuss the development and implementation of a Local EAS Plan.
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PART 5 - PREMISES WIRING
by Neal McLain
This is the fifth in a series of articles about coaxial broadband networks. In this article, we'll discuss premises wiring.
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TELEVISION IN THE U.K. - LONDON ENGLAND
By Victoria Way
The city of London is the heart of broadcasting in Great Britain. Most networks have their headquarters and production studios in and around London. During the term I recently spent studying at a university in London, I had the opportunity to explore my interest in broadcasting and to take a facility tour of a major network's headquarters in London.
The biggest difference between a European television station and an American station is the fact that European stations use the PAL video format instead of NTSC. PAL is an acronym for Phase Alternation Line. The United States, Japan, Canada, and Mexico are a few of the countries that use the NTSC format. The vast majority of nations in the International Telecommunications Union Region 2 (roughly, the Western Hemisphere) have adopted NTSC in one form or another as their national standard. In the rest of the world, PAL is the dominant standard, greatly outnumbering NTSC and SECAM nations. PAL is a composite signal that has 625 lines instead of NTSC's 525 lines. The greater number of scan lines offers a more detailed picture. Since the color subcarrier is placed at 4.43 MHz, there is a wider luminance signal bandwidth, allowing for more monochrome information. With PAL, chrominance is determined when phase shift variations are summed to determine the color produced. Any phase error will be corrected by an equal and opposite error on the next line that corrects the original error. This self-correction occurs because of the reversal of the sub-carrier on alternate lines. The gamma ratio for PAL is 2.8 instead of the lower value of 2.2 for NTSC. The higher PAL gamma ratio means that PAL has a higher level of contrast than NTSC.
PAL has several disadvantages when compared to NTSC. Flicker is more visible on PAL transmissions because the frame rate is only 25 frames per second. The payoff for the higher bandwidth requirements of PAL is that PAL has a slightly lower signal to noise ratio than NTSC. There is a loss of color editing accuracy because the alteration of the phase of the color signal means that the phase and the color signal only reach a common point once every four frames or eight fields. Edits can only be synchronized perfectly to +/- 4 frames. Although PAL guarantees consistent hue values, the color saturation is more prone to variation.
The four main networks in Great Britain are BBC1, BBC2, ITV (C3), and Channel 4 (C4). Meridian is a regional network that is available is some areas. Next year, Channel 5 will premiere. Channel 5 will be an independent network. Most people receive terrestrial television only.
Cable TV is in its infancy, and growth has been very slow. Only about one million British homes have cable TV presently. Future technologies might stimulate the growth of the cable industry. Coaxial cable is ideal for the transmission of digital television signals because of its wide bandwidth and customer addressability. At present, CATV suppliers merely repeat the signals of the four main networks. L!ve TV and the Music Video Channel are CATV stations that originate their own programming.
Satellite television is starting to become popular. BSkyB and FOX are the companies that have British satellite networks. Both networks are owned by newspaper giant Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch has speculated that he will offer a choice of up to 500 channels on BSkyB next fall. BSkyB will soon announce their plans for NVOD (Near Video On Demand.) NVOD simulates VOD because it repeats the same show at regular intervals to give the impression of interactive television.
American television programs are popular in the UK. The networks must transcode all American shows in a NTSC to PAL converter before airing them. Transcoding is the process of converting the composite video from one format to another. Unfortunately, transcoding between the standards does not yield a perfect conversion. When transcoding NTSC to PAL, the converter struggles to convert wipes and dissolves. NTSC video tends to have low luminance levels after it has been transcoded. Interpolation errors occur when the converter samples the NTSC video and then uses algorithms to estimate what the video should look like in PAL. When the resultant PAL video does not resemble the NTSC video as much as it should, it is called an interpolation error.
Commercial stations have fewer commercial breaks than American commercial networks do. They may have one short commercial break in the middle of a show, and then show most of the commercials at the end of the program.
ITV, Independent Channel 3, is the largest provider of teleconferencing facilities in London. They use ISDN to transmit the signals. British Telecom, the leading telephone company in Great Britain, is replacing all of England's phone lines so that the lines will be able to handle high-bandwidth transmissions. Fiber optic transmission is not commonly used because there is not an adequate infrastructure set up yet.
By 1998, the BBC is hoping to be broadcasting a digital terrestrial signal. On April 9, 1996, the BBC became the first UK broadcaster to successfully broadcast an MPEG-2 digital signal.
Parliament's Supervisory Role
The Independent Television Commission (ITC) was created by the Broadcasting Act of 1990. The ITC could be compared to the FCC. The ITC determines which networks get broadcast licenses. The licenses are sold to the highest bidder. It is possible to take over long-existing networks if you have enough money to out-bid them for their license. There has been controversy over the policy of awarding independent television station franchises to the highest bidder, without concern for the quality or content of the programming.
The Broadcasting Act of 1990 was created to end monopolies. It declared that television networks must have at least 25% of their programming produced by independent contractors.
Broadcast Engineering in Britain
There are several different routes a broadcast engineer can take to get their initial training. Students can receive a formal education at the Ravensborn Television College or the BBC training school. The could also be hired without certification and receive their training on-the-job. The Royal Television Society is the British equivalent of the SBE.
By the end of my tour, I had learned the British version of some American television terms. They referred to closed captioning as "teletext dubbing," a router is a "matrix," and a character generator is an "Aston 4." "The box" is their name for the home viewer's television set.
Despite the differences in terminology and format, I think that American and British broadcasting are very similar.
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THREE STATES APPROVE OVERLAY AREA CODES
By Neal McLain
Three states - Maryland, Pennsylvania, and California, - have formally approved the adoption of overlay telephone area codes. In all three cases, the decision to approve an overlay, instead of a geographic split, was the outcome of a big political battle. As in previous overlay-vs.-split battles, the arguments were much the same:
Businesses and municipal governments generally prefer overlays so they won't have to change phone numbers on letterheads, sales brochures, building signs, vehicles, web sites, etc.
Cellular and paging companies prefer splits, arguing that it isn't "fair" if their customers have to use numbers in the overlay area code. This argument is also put forth by competitive wireline providers such as cable television companies and long distance carriers seeking to offer local telephone service.
The incumbent wireline telephone companies generally favor overlays, arguing that overlays cause the least disruption to their customers. In the words of Bell Atlantic vice president Bill Mitchell, "The Commission's decision [favoring an overlay] is forward-thinking, pro-competitive, and benefits both residential and business customers ..." (1)
Consumer-protection groups favor splits, arguing that overlays discourage competition in the local telephone-service market. "The overlay was opposed by Pennsylvania's consumer advocate and its small-business advocate, who said it could stifle competition. They said people would be unlikely to switch to a competitor if they had to move to a new area code." (2)
Consumers object to any plan which requires dialing more than seven digits for local calls; hence they usually prefer splits. Incumbent wireline companies rebut this argument by noting that subscribers near boundary lines must dial 11 digits for local calls across the boundary, a situation which becomes increasingly common as area codes are split into ever-smaller areas. (3)
In the end, the decision rests with the state-level regulatory body responsible for utility regulation.
The Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved the use of overlays in Maryland. This decision was the first in the nation in which a state regulatory body has approved overlays.
Beginning June 1, 1997, Maryland will have four area codes in two geographic areas (see map). All local calls, from anywhere in the state, will require ten-digit dialing. In arguing its case for overlays, Bell Atlantic asserted that 10-digit dialing was inevitable to accommodate future growth, and that the alternative -- splitting Maryland into four area codes -- would have resulted in four relatively small areas, requiring 11-digit dialing for local calls in many parts of the state.
The Pennsylvania decision centered on area code 412, which includes the Pittsburgh metropolitan area and most of the western part of the state. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) approved the overlay by a 3-2 vote. The overlay code hasn't been announced yet. Overlay number assignments are expected to begin in January, 1997.
Local calls will require ten-digit dialing. In arguing its case for overlays, Bell Atlantic again asserted that 10-digit dialing was inevitable to accommodate future growth.
The California decision is a muddled one. By a 4-1 vote, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved overlays as a general policy once "local number portability" has been implemented but not before. Local number portability requires a centralized database from which all competing carriers can draw numbers; implementing it is expected to take at least two years. The San Jose Mercury News speculated that area code 408 (which includes San Jose) might be the first overlay in California, since it will be due for relief in 1998.(4)
In the meantime, however, the PUC apparently intends to maintain its current splits-only policy. As part of the same decision, the PUC voted in favor of geographic splits in two area codes needing immediate relief: 415 (San Francisco area) and 916 (Sacramento area).
Now that three states have taken the plunge and approved overlays, it may be easier for other states to follow suit.
The Pennsylvania PUC will be facing the same situation again next year in the Philadelphia area, where both existing area codes (215 and 610) are filling rapidly. Bell Atlantic has already announced its intention to propose overlays in both areas. PUC members are well aware of the fact that splits cause big problems too, having just witnessed the upheaval caused by the 215 split (which created 610) two years ago.
New Jersey's Board of Public Utilities (BPU) will face a similar decision next year when area codes 201 and 908 are expected to need relief. Bell Atlantic also serves New Jersey, and has already announced its intention to propose overlays. It's safe to assume that Bell Atlantic will point to the Maryland and Pennsylvania cases to bolster its arguments before the BPU.
Here in Wisconsin, things are not at the crisis stage yet.
Area code 414 is projected to need relief by 1998. (5) Local telephone companies are already studying alternatives, and a geographic split seems likely. But 414 still has lots of capacity left before it exhausts: Ameritech has only recently begun using central office codes in the N1X and N0X ranges. These are the ranges formerly reserved for area codes; they are now available for assignment as central office codes. As of this writing, only three (out of a possible 144) have been assigned: 302 and 304 in Milwaukee and 405 in Green Bay.
And here in 608, we're a long way from filling up: telephone companies have just started using central office codes in the NN0 range, and haven't even touched the N1X and N0X ranges. So far, only four (out of a possible 64) NN0 codes have been assigned: 250 (Ameritech, downtown Madison); 770 (Ameritech Cellular, Madison); 780 (Century Cellular, LaCrosse); and 950 (long distance access). (6)
According to Ameritech, both 608 and 715 have sufficient capacity to last until 2010. (5)
(1) News release, Bell Atlantic, June 21, 1996.
(2) Philadelphia Inquirer, June 21, 1996.
(3) This has certainly been the case in the Chicago area: the local-calling zone for Franklin Park, Illinois (in 847) includes parts of three other area codes: 630 to the west, 708 to the south, and 312 (soon to become 773) to the east.
(4) San Jose Mercury News, August 4, 1996.
(5) News release, Ameritech, January 26, 1996.
(6) A likely candidate for the next NN0: 270, in southwest Madison. All other 27X combinations are already in use: 271 and 273-279 in Madison; 272 in Cataract.
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MADISON TOWERS DISAPPEAR
By Kevin Ruppert
I Feel like I am lost. Lost in the very city where I live. Lost in two ways. I feel lost geographically. I feel almost like I have lost a friend as well.
The reason I feel lost is because the skyline of Madison has changed. Like many broadcasters, I tend to use the sighting of the towers in a city (at least a small to medium sized city) to help me find my way around. It is especially useful at night when other landmarks disappear into the darkness. Towers show up well with their federally mandated red lights or strobes. You can remember where a tower is in respect to where you are, even if it is just a compass direction.
My wife thinks that I am "geographically challenged" anyway. She thinks that I am terrible at directions. She says that I am terrible at trying to find my way around while driving in a strange place, whether I have good instructions or not. That is why she bought me a GPS receiver for Father's Day. It is supposed to help me get back home when I go on my longer walks. She still reminds me of the time that I got lost in the UW Arboretum a few years back. Being able to see the towers on the west side has often helped me get my bearings. Now, I feel like I might be in danger of really getting lost, only to be found by a cross country skier some time in the middle of winter.
Then, there is a feeling of losing something that you have looked up to for many years. Okay, it is an inanimate object, but it gets to be so much a part of your daily life, you start to think of it as something more then just a piece of steel after a while. There has been a large tower on Madison's southwest side now for 40 years. It has been in that place since there was not much else in that area. It was built, and added onto twice, to support the antenna for WISC-TV. Now, it is gone! Hard to believe, but I saw it come down myself, section by section. We even have pictures of it.
In reality, it IS still there. But it is now only 200 feet high. Hardly a "tower" at all. I call it a "vertical." A tower has to be tower-ING. This is now just a vertical structure and can no longer be called a "tower." I live only a mile away and you can hardly see it above the tree tops.
Then, just when I started to get used to the idea of being without "my" tower, something even more severe happens! Another tower comes down! And all the way! As a matter of fact, the loss of this tower messes up the skyline even more then the first! The WHA-TV tower was one half of the Gemini twins of towers on Tokay Boulevard that were very useful for navigation. The fact that there were two towers so close together provided a perfect pointer. You could usually triangulate between your present location and the two towers to help you figure out where you were anywhere in the county.
I suppose that I will get used to it. The old Raymond Road tower is still there, although it looks pretty silly with the old 100 foot high Batwing antenna on top of it. The "two tone" batwing, that is. Because the regulations require every tower to have seven stripes, the antenna had to be repainted so that it now has two orange and one white stripe!
The new Madison Community tower, known to most as the "Candelabra", is bigger, better, and actually easier to see. I have no doubt that it is technically superior to the old site. I'm sure that I could get used to it as a navigation device on a new Twenty-First Century Madison skyline. I'm sure that I will get used to seeing all of those stripes on a 200 foot vertical. But it is hard for an old guy to change his habits. I'm one of those people that has been in television long enough to remember how to operate a quad VTR. So, banding shouldn't really bother me. (Excuse me while I adjust the tip projection.)
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ON July 14, 1996, Leonard Charles was named Informations Systems Administrator for Television Wisconsin, Inc. (TWI)
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MEDIA TECHNICIAN 3
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SBE SHORT CIRCUITS
John L. Poray, CAE
REGISTER TODAY FOR THE SBE ENGINEERING CONFERENCE& WORLD MEDIA EXPO
The Society of Broadcast Engineers will present its annual nationalSBE Engineering Conference & World Media Expo, October 9-12,1996 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Headquarter hotelaccommodations will be at the Universal City Hilton & Towers, inUniversal City. The Conference and Expo will offer educational workshops, technical paper presentations and equipment exhibits vital to your career as we head "Toward the Digital Century."
A comprehensive brochure was mailed to all members in late June and an update will be mailed to members in August. Discount registration rates are available through October 4.
You can access detailed program information about the SBE Engineering Conference & World Media Expo, including registration and housing forms, at the SBE Web site. The address is http://www.sbe.org or the SBE Fax-On-Demand at (301)216-1853.
Annual Election Approaches In mid-August, voting members will receive their ballots for the election of SBE national officers and board members for 1996/1997. Along with the ballot comes a rundown of the voting record of current board members and a brief biography of each candidate. One candidate is running for each officer position, except Secretary, where two candidates are competing. Ten candidates are vying for six board seats that are available. Ballots must be returned by mail or expressed (no faxes or e-mail please)to the SBE National Office and received by 5:00pm CDT, Thursday, September 12. A Board of Tellers will open and count the ballots that evening and report the results to the Secretary.
SBE OFFERS PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY INSURANCE
As announced in June, SBE is pleased to offer a new member benefit. Group rates on professional liability (errors and omissions) insurance. Contract engineers, and others who do not always work as an employee when providing broadcast engineering services, should find this coverage extremely valuable. The program is called "PROinsure," and is administered by MIMS International, Ltd. of Towson, Maryland. The coverage is underwritten by Employers Reinsurance Corporation and is tailored specifically for broadcast engineers. Prior to now, professional liability insurance was either not available or too expensive for most broadcast engineers to consider. For more information and a no-obligation quote, call Debbie Zarzecki at (800) 899-1399.
SIGHT & SOUND EXPO SEPTEMBER 12-13
SBE will participate in the second Sight & Sound Expo, to be held in Columbus, Ohio, September 12-13, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Sight & Sound Expo is a regional event, attracting broadcast engineers as well as people working in various production fields, from the Great Lakes States area. SBE is presenting six seminars during the Expo, including sessions on Digital Audio for Video, Television Facilities Design and Digital Interconnectivity. To register for the Expo, call (614) 895-1355 for a registration form. SBE members receive registration discounts and early bird registration discounts apply through August 12.
STILL NEED YOUR EAS PRIMER?
SBE still has a supply of the SBE EAS Primer available. The Primer is a guide to building the EAS System. The makeup of the mandated National/State system as well as a discussion of how to develop a local EAS System is explained. The Primer also covers system requirements, operational options and procedures and technical specifications. You can order your copy of the SBE EAS Primer though the SBE National Office by calling (317) 253-1640 or use the order form in the SBE SIGNAL. Cost to SBE members is $25. Non-members' price is $35.
ENGINEERING MANAGEMENT COURSE SLATED FOR 1997
SBE, in cooperation with well known management trainer Richard Cupka, will present the Leader Skills Course for Broadcast Engineers, June 9-13, 1997. This intensive course will be led by Cupka, who has trained more than 40,000 supervisors, managers and executives since 1965. For 28 years, Cupka presented the Leader-Skills Course under the sponsorship of NAB. SBE brings back the highly popular program with a course set for Indianapolis, Indiana next year. The course fee of $650 includes instruction, materials, classroom refreshments and a certificate of completion. Transportation to and from the seminar site, housing accommodations and meals are additional. Plan now to attend by marking June 9-13, 1997 on your calendar and include the course in your 1997 budgets for one or more engineering staff to attend. For more information, see the August/September issue of the SBE SIGNAL.
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CHAPTER 24 SUSTAINING MEMBERS