SBE 24 August 1996 Newsletter


Edited by: Mike Norton

Electronic Version: Leonard Charles
Electronically Distributed by Chris Cain
Contributors this month:
Tom Smith
Chris Cain
Tom Weeden
Neal McLain
Denise Maney
Kevin Ruppert
Paul Stoffel
Victoria Way
Articles Welcome!! Send correspondence to:
SBE Chapter 24 Newsletter Editor
46 Trillium Court
Madison, WI 53719-2308
or Email at

Contents for this Newsletter

About this Newsletter
Meeting Announcement
Upcoming Meeting Schedule
July Meeting Minutes
Chapter 24 Picnic Wrapup
Advanced Digital TV Update
FCC Rulemakings
Chapter 24 Earns National Awards
EAS Committee Update
Chapter 24 Local EAS Planning Workshop
Broadband Networks (Pt 5)
Television in the UK
The Latest on Area Codes
Madison's Skyline has Changed
Professional Announcement
Two Employment Opportunities
SBE Short Circuits
Sustaining Members Listing

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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:

Information and/or articles are also accepted by US Mail. Please address them to:

SBE Chapter 24 Newsletter Editor
46 Trillium Court
Madison, WI 53719-2308

Please submit text file on DOS or Windows 3.5" floppy diskette if possible.

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Thursday August 22, 1996
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
Local EAS Plan Update

Wed, Oct 30, 1996
Broadcasters Clinic

Wed, Nov 20, 1996
Newstar Edit System

Tue, Dec 17, 1996
Holiday Dinner Party -TBA

Wed, Jan 22, 1997
Part 1 - Digital Tape Options

Thu, Feb 20, 1997
Part 2 - The Interfacing To Broadcast

Tue, Mar 18, 1997
Radio Automation

Wed, Apr 16, 1997
Elections and NAB Review

Thu, May 22, 1997
ATM Technology

Tue, Jun 17, 1997
Facility Tour - TBA

Sat, Jul 26, 1997
Annual Family Picnic

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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.

Call to order: 1:43 pm. The minutes of the June meeting were approved, as published in the July Newsletter.

Newsletter Editor's Report: The deadline for the August Newsletter is 8/9/86; folding party is 8/14/96.

Chairman's Report: Paul thanked Denise and Dan Maney for their efforts in organizing the Chapter picnic.

The business meeting was adjourned at 1:53 pm. The program consisted of the Chapter's annual family picnic.

Submitted by Neal McLain, Secretary

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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.

After a brief business meeting the games began. The main horseshoe challenge this year was between the Croom boys, PJ and Brian, and their Dad, Mark. Brian racked up the most points, winning all 3 matches. There was a brief attemp at volleyball. I think John Weeden, Tom's son, was the top guy in that game.

A few sprinkles ended most everyone's fun about 4 PM. Clean up was a breeze. However, someone left a pitcher of ice tea on the picnic table. You can contact Denise Maney at 277-8001 or e-mail at, if it is yours. Thanks to all who came. Hope to see you all there next year.

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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.

As part of the allocation proposal, the FCC plans to reduce the TV spectrum to cover channels 7 to 51 when the conversion to digital TV is complete. The FCC also proposes to start to release channels 60 to 69 at an earlier date claiming they are lightly used by TV. The FCC would protect existing NTSC and transitional digital TV stations from interference. There are currently 97 full-power stations and 1700 low-power stations and translators on channels 60 to 69.

As the allocation process continues, a number of new auction proposals surfaced. President Clinton proposed auctioning channels 60 to 69 to raise $5 billion for his education program and Bob Dole proposed using spectrum auctions to raise $34 billion to offset his tax cut plan. A number of members of congress are also still pushing for auctions of digital TV channels, or channels 60 to 69. Sen. Larry Pressler, Chairman of the senate committee that oversees telecommunication issues, issued a long paper which appeared in the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD on May 9th calling for total overhaul of the spectrum management system. This proposal includes the packing of all bands of spectrum of multiple types of users and increased auctions with licenses treated more like property.

Meanwhile, congressional leaders Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott and telecommunications committee leaders Thomas Bliley, John Dingell, and Ernest Hollings wrote the FCC asking them to not to auction or reallocate any TV spectrum during the transition to digital TV. They also ask that the commission complete all its actions concerning digital TV by April 1, 1997.

In other digital TV action, the FCC approved WRAL of Raleigh, N.C. to construct and operate an experimental digital TV station on channel 32. Harris will supply the transmitter and Andrew will supply the transmission line and antenna.

(Compiled from FCC Press Release, Congressional Record, Electronic Media, Broadcasting & Cable, and TV Broadcast).

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by Tom Smith

Final Rules

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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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:

"Broadcast Engineer of the Year" award to Leonard "Chuck" Charles. Chuck is a member of the national SBE Board and Chairman of the national SBE EAS Committee. Chuck and his committee have published the EAS PRIMER, written articles for THE SIGNAL and various trade magazines, and are providing current EAS information on the national SBE WWW homepage. In addition, Chuck has spoken at many conventions, both in Wisconsin and nationally.

"Best Chapter Newsletter" award to 1995's newsletter editor Mark Croom and to all the contributing authors. The Chapter 24 Newsletter is truly a group effort.

"Best Technical Article or Program" award to Neal McLain for his five-part (August 1995 through December 1995 issues) in-depth article entitled, GEOSTATIONARY ORBITS.

"Best Article, Paper or Program by a Student Member" to Vicki Way and James Stellpflug. Vicki and James, UW-Platteville students, wrote an article for the May 1995 Chapter 24 Newsletter titled THE MAGIC OF MARCH, about setting up a remote truck for state high school basketball playoffs.

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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.

Wisconsin SECC Chairman, Gary Timm, presented the Wisconsin State Plan at the WBA Engineering Seminar in Green Lake. The Plan included the mandated monitoring inputs for all participants in each EAS region of the state. With this knowledge, Wisconsin broadcasters can now purchase EAS equipment to meet the needs of their individual or group station configuration.

The next step is to begin contemplating programming of that equipment. With only the National Presidential message mandated for immediate relay, broadcasters will need to decide what additional alert messages they will relay and whether they will relay them manually or automatically. A Local Plan developed by broadcasters and Government Emergency sources in a local area will hold the information to make those decisions. Information on what types of messages to expect and where they will come from will help the broadcasters make those decisions.

In Wisconsin, most of those local alerts will likely be weather related. The Weather Service SAME system's compatibility with the EAS will make relaying those messages as easy as monitoring the nearest NWS transmitter on one of the EAS decoder inputs. The FCC's pending release of additional event codes to deal with local non-weather related alerts will accommodate all other potential messages which will come from Emergency Management and Law Enforcement Officials.

As a broadcaster, now is the time to get involved in formulating that Local Plan.

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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.

The workshop, held at the Wisconsin Division of Emergency Government, provided information on the National and State EAS Plans, Local EAS web examples, cable television's status, amateur radio opportunities, the NWS's SAME, and the county emergency government's perspective. FCC type-approved TFT and Sage EAS encoder/decoders were demonstrated.

Leonard Charles, Chapter 24 member, National SBE EAS Committee Chair, and author of SBE's EAS PRIMER, spoke about the National, State and Local EAS Plans and answered questions throughout the workshop. Gary Timm, State Emergency Communications Committee Chair, and Kevin Ruppert simulated an emergency message transmission where an encoder was linked to a decoder using a 15-foot RF path. Neal McLain detailed cable television interruption techniques and explained "double alert." Tom Weeden talked about amateur radio's involvement in emergency communications and opportunities for using repeaters as a background channel for EAS. Rusty Kapela, from the National Weather Service, said NOAA Weather Radio will add SAME (Specific Area Message Encoder) in the Sullivan office by the end of the year. Jim Engeseth, Dane County Emergency Government, gave his perspective on EAS and proposed a Local EAS Plan.

The day-long workshop began at 9:00 AM and concluded at 4:00 PM. Chapter 24's EAS Committee is chaired by Paul Stoffel. Al Wohlferd, Wisconsin Division of Emergency Government, acted as facility representative for the event. Fred Sperry, Stan Scharch and Jeremy Charles also helped in making the workshop a success.

A Wisconsin State EAS Plan was presented by Gary Timm during an EAS Summit at the July 18 WBA Summer Engineering Seminar in Green Lake, Wisconsin. Attendees were given their EAS monitoring assignments. Chapter 24's EAS Committee has begun the process of developing, writing, and eventually, building a Local EAS Plan. Future meetings will be announced in order to present the proposed Local Plan to the broadcasters and emergency government officials.

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by Neal McLain

This is the fifth in a series of articles about coaxial broadband networks. In this article, we'll discuss premises wiring.

We begin by reviewing the definitions of some basic terms:

Passive: refers to a device which passes a signal without amplification. Cables, splitters, and directional couplers are passives.

dBmV: the conventional signal-level measurement unit in broadband networks. By definition, 0 dBmV = 1 millivolt = 0.001 volt.

Hard Cable: cable constructed with a solid aluminum shield. Hard cable is identified by the outside diameter of the shield; standard trade sizes are 0.500, 0.625, 0.750, 0.875, and 1.000. Loss is specified in decibels per 100 feet at a specified frequency.

Drop Cable: cable constructed with a foil-and-braid shield. Drop cable is identified by type number; standard types are RG-59, RG-6, and RG-11. Loss is specified in decibels per 100 feet at a specified frequency.

Feeder: the portion a broadband network which distributes signals to individual neighborhoods. Taps are spaced along the feeder line at intervals determined by physical conditions. In aerial plant, a tap is usually placed at every pole; in underground plant, taps are placed near property lines so that one tap can serve several subscribers. A terminating tap is used at the end of the feeder line. Feeder is usually constructed with hard cable.

Drop: the cable which extends from the feeder to the customer premises. Drops are usually constructed with drop cable.

Tap: a device inserted into the feeder line to split the signal off to individual drops. Taps are installed at intervals along the feeder line.

Splitter: a passive device which splits an input signal to 2, 4, 8, or 16 equal outputs. Splitter loss equals 3.5 dB per 2-way split.

Directional Coupler: a passive device which splits an input signal to two unequal outputs. Directional couplers are identified by an identification code in the form DC-N, where N = tap loss in decibels.


Drop: the cable extending from the feeder line to the building. Drops can be implemented with any kind of drop cable; RG-6 is most common.

Inside wiring: wiring within the building. Inside wiring can be implemented with any kind of drop cable; RG-59 is most common.

Ground Block: literally, the physical device used to ground the incoming drop cable for safety reasons.(1) The ground block must be installed within a few inches of the point where the incoming drop cable actually enters the building. Hence, the term "ground block" has acquired a more generic meaning: it's the demarcation point between the drop and the inside wiring. The signal loss through a ground block is assumed to be zero.

Terminals Devices: devices connected to the network. The most common terminal device is the TV set. However, the term "terminal devices" also includes set-top converters, VCRs, FM radio tuners, digital-audio terminals (for such services as TCI's "DMX" and Time Warner's "MusicChoice") and undefined active outlets. Newer HFC systems are also capable of interconnecting to specialized terminal devices which enable telephone and data-transmission services. The minimum input signal level required by each type of device depends on the type of modulation. For the purpose of this article, we'll assume that the minimum input level is 0 dBmV, or 0.001 volt at 75 ohms.

In these examples (as in most buildings), premises wiring consists exclusively of drop cable and passive devices. This isn't always the case, of course: large facilities (such as multi-unit apartment buildings, office buildings, hospitals, and college campuses) frequently incorporate hard cable distribution systems and active devices (amplifiers) as well. We'll discuss these situations in a future article.

For the purposes of this article, we'll assume that premises wiring consists exclusively of drop cable and passive devices.

Ideally, premises wiring meets two criteria:

It delivers the signal from the tap to all terminal devices with minimum signal loss.

It is installed in such a way that all splitting devices are accessible for maintenance.


We now introduce two new terms:

Tap Level: the signal level of the highest-frequency visual carrier, in dBmV, at the tap port of a tap.

Design Tap Level (DTL): the tap level at a tap port intended to feed a single-family home.

From that definition, DTL may not seem like a particularly significant parameter. In fact, DTL is one of the most important parameters which a system designer must specify. As we shall see presently, DTL is the starting point for design of premises wiring. (And, as we'll see next month, it's also the starting point for the design of feeder lines.)

So how do we specify DTL? We'll defer that question to the end of this article. For the moment, we'll assume some values for DTL and the highest frequency, and forge ahead. Let's assume that DTL = +18 dBmV at 500 MHz (cable channel 70).


We will now consider four premises-wiring examples in detail. In each case, we will start with the specified Design Tap Level (DTL) and determine the input level at each terminal device at the specified high frequency.

Keep in mind the assumptions we have made:

Premises wiring consists exclusively of drop cable and passive devices.

The signal loss through a ground block is zero.

The minimum input signal level for any terminal device is 0 dBmV, or 0.001 volt at 75 ohms.

Design Tap Level (DTL) = +18 dBmV at 500 MHz.


This is the simplest of installations: a single-family home with one television set. We calculate the signal level at the input to the TV set by starting with the specified DTL and subtracting cable losses. Thus, input level = DTL - drop loss - inside wiring loss.

Cable losses are calculated from data specified in Part 3 of this series.(2) Thus:

Drop: (150 feet of RG-6) = (1.5)(4.66) = 7 dB.

Inside wiring: (50 feet of RG-59) = (0.5)(5.7) = 2.8 dB.


+18 - 7 - 2.8 = +8.2 dBmV.

Which means we're hitting the TV set with about 8 dB more than it needs to produce a snow-free picture. Will this overload the TV set? Probably not: the AGC circuit in most TV sets will easily accommodate this level. And if it doesn't, it's a simple matter to add an in-line attenuator.


Now for a more complicated case: a single-family home with the three TV sets.

In the example, the inside wiring is "home run" all splitting devices are located at the ground block, and each terminal device is connected by a separate run of RG-59. This arrangement assures that all splitting devices are (and hopefully will remain) accessible for future maintenance.

Cable losses are calculated as before:

Drop: (1.5)(4.66) = 7.0 dB.
TV#1: (0.3)(5.7) = 1.7 dB.
TV#2: (0.7)(5.7) = 4.0 dB.
TV#3: (1.2)(5.7) = 6.8 dB.

The loss through each splitter is known to be 3.5 dB.(3)

As before, we calculate input levels by subtracting the total losses from the DTL:

TV#1: +18 - 7 - 3.5 - 3.5 - 1.7 = +2.3 dBmV.
TV#2: +18 - 7 - 3.5 - 3.5 - 4.0 = +0.0 dBmV.
TV#3: +18 - 7 - 3.5 - 6.8 = +0.7 dBmV.

In this case, all terminal devices receive at least the specified minimum level of 0 dBmV.

Note the importance of the placement of the two splitters: the longest run of inside wiring is connected to the splitter output with the lowest loss. Suppose instead that TV#3 had been connected to the highest splitter loss. Its input would then be +18 - 7 - 3.5 - 3.5 - 6.8 = -2.8 dBmV, or about 3 dB too low.

Would this degrade performance? Theoretically, yes, although it depends on the characteristics of the TV set's tuner. Most modern TV sets would be capable of producing excellent picture in spite of the low signal.


This example is identical to Example 2, except that the inside wiring isn't home run. Instead, splitting devices are located throughout the building wherever they happen to be needed.

This arrangement is far from ideal, because splitting devices frequently get installed in inaccessible locations: buried inside walls, hidden in attics, etc. Nonetheless, this arrangement is frequently encountered, particularly in older buildings, simply because it's often easier to install a new outlet by branching off from an existing outlet rather than installing a new cable all the way back to the ground block.

Cable losses are calculated as before. Directional coupler losses are specified in Part 4 of this series.(4)

Again, we calculate input levels by subtracting the total losses from the DTL:

TV#1: +18 - 7 - 1.7 - 8.0 = +1.3 dBmV.
TV#2: +18 - 7 - 1.7 - 1.4 - 2.3 - 3.5 = +2.1 dBmV.
TV#3: +18 - 7 - 1.7 - 1.4 - 2.3 - 3.5 - 2.9= -0.8 dBmV.

In this case, we have selected splitting devices (one directional coupler and one 2-way splitter) in an attempt to ensure that each terminal device receives at least 0 dBmV at its input. In spite of this effort, the signal to one TV set is 0.8 dB low.

Could we improve the situation by selecting some other combination of devices? Try it and see.


This example is a large single-family home with home-run inside wiring to six locations. Splitting devices haven't been installed yet. This example presents a situation familiar to every cable TV installer: a new building in which the inside wiring has been installed, but the splitting arrangement hasn't been determined. That problem falls to the installer.

Test question: if you were the installer, what would you install?

Hint: there's no way to split +18 dBmV six ways and end up with at least 0 dBmV at all six locations. In this case, we have no choice: we must make some special arrangement such as installing an amplifier ("house amp") or installing a dedicated high-level tap ("hot tap").


From the information we've obtained from studying these examples, we can conclude that tap-level requirements differ from building to building, depending on the several factors: the number of TV sets (or other terminal devices), the physical distances involved, and the configuration of splitting devices.

But designers of broadband distribution systems have no way of knowing these kinds of details in advance. And even if they did, it wouldn't stay the same: future homeowners will have different requirements. The designer must select a uniform DTL that can be used throughout the distribution system, and will provide sufficient signal level for the majority of the buildings in the area.

The designer also must consider cost: DTL has a profound effect on construction cost. As a former boss of mine once put it, dBs are DBs: decibels are dollar bills.

In the examples above, we selected DTL = +18 dBmV. We then determined that this value is just sufficient for a home with three terminal devices, but it's not sufficient for a home with six devices. But that doesn't necessarily mean that we should specify a higher DTL. It simply means that six-TV homes will have to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

In the end, the designer must select a DTL which balances construction cost against the anticipated requirements. In most current system designs, the specified DTL falls in the range +15 to +20 dBmV.

Next month: feeder design.

(1) National Electrical Code, Section 820-33. Quincy, MA: National Fire Protection Association, 1993.
(2) "Broadband Networks" Part 3. SBE Chapter 24 Newsletter, June, 1996, p. 6.
(3) "Broadband Networks" Part 4. SBE Chapter 24 Newsletter, July, 1996, p. 4.
(4) Ibid, p. 5.

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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.

Technical Differences
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.

Television Networks
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.

New Technology
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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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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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)

Leonard (Chuck) will supervise computer based systems at the following TWI owned companies:

WISC-TV, MEG Communications Center, and Madison Magazine

We are proud to have Chuck overseeing these systems.

Chris Cain
Chief Engineer
Television Wisconsin, Inc.

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2 year Project Position

The Wisconsin Educational Communications Board at the Wisconsin Public Broadcasting Center has a opening for a full-time two year project position. The work schedule will include nights, weekends, holidays and third shift hours. This position's responsibilities are primarily broadcast engineering operations duties, such as: operating robotic tape handling systems (Odetics), various video tape machine formats (Beta SP, 3/4 and type "C"), master control switchers, routing systems, video and audio monitoring. Additional duties include: remote controlling and monitoring transmitters for the statewide Public Broadcasting networks. This position requires thorough knowledge of state-of-the-art broadcast equipment, systems troubleshooting techniques and computer systems skills. Start at $12.999; receive an increase of .39/hr. upon successful completion of a six-month probationary period, plus fringe benefits. Pay rate for current state employees on layoff will be determined in accordance with the applicable personnel rules or collective bargaining agreement. Send a cover letter and resume to: ECB Personnel, TOC Engineer, 3319 W. Beltline Hwy., Madison, WI 53713 by August 20, 1996.


2 year Project Position

The Educational Communications Board (ECB) has a full-time two year project position. The position will assist in the design, installation, maintenance, and operation of ITFS, satellite, broadcast and National Weather Service equipment and systems. The position is based in Madison, with travel throughout southern Wisconsin as required. Assignments will include maintenance, repair and installation of: ITFS systems in Madison, Janesville and Platteville; FM broadcast systems at WERN-Madison, WHAD-Delafield, and WHHI-Highland; National Weather Service systems in Madison, Delafield, and Kieler, WI; Satellite systems at the Wisconsin Public Broadcasting Center-Madison. Knowledge of the operation and maintenance of ITFS, broadcast, satellite and National Weather Service equipment involving state-of-the-art electronics is necessary. Start at $12.990; receive an increase of .39/hr. upon successful completion of a six-month probationary period, plus fringe benefits. Pay for current state employees on layoff will be determined in accordance with the applicable personnel rules or collective bargaining agreement. Send a cover letter and resume to: ECB Personnel, ITFS Regional Engineer, ECB, 3319 W. Beltline Hwy., Madison, WI 53713 by August 20, 1996.


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August 1996
John L. Poray, CAE
Executive Director

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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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Recent Renewals:

Skyline Communications

Thanks to all ourSustaining Members:

Broadcast Communications
CCA Electronics
Clark Wire and Cable
Comark Communications
Emmons Associates
Fuji Film I&I
Harris Corporation
MRC Telecommunications
Maney Logic
Panasonic Broadcast
Richardson Electronics
Roscor Wisconsin
Scharch Electronics
Sony Broadcast
Tectan, Inc.
Teleport Minnesota
Video Images

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