News

Broadcasters Reaffirm VSB Support

1/16/2001 8:59 AM Eastern

Washington -- Following a series of studies and tests, the broadcasting
industry said Monday that it had reaffirmed its endorsement of the Federal
Communications Commission-approved 8-VSB (vestigial sideband) standard for
digital-television reception.

The announcement essentially muffles a digital-standards fight between 8-VSB
and COFDM (coded orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing), a European
standard.

Sinclair Broadcast Group and a host of other U.S. TV-station owners have
supported COFDM, arguing that it offers better indoor reception and is better
suited to push data alongside a digital-video signal.

Other broadcasters, meanwhile, have been in favor of 8-VSB because they have
already spent millions of dollars on equipment based on that standard and they
fear that COFDM could spawn interference problems.

In a joint resolution, The National Association of Broadcasters and the
Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV) said, 'There is insufficient
evidence to add COFDM.' At the same time, the NAB and MSTV also noted 'an urgent
need for swift and dramatic improvement' to current U.S. digital television.

Zenith Electronics Corp. -- an 8-VSB developer that introduced a line of
digital and high-definition televisions at the recent Consumer Electronics Show
-- applauded the resolution.

Zenith senior vice president Richard M. Lewis said in a press release that
the decision 'vindicated' VSB and called for COFDM backers to 'admit that their
delay strategy has failed.'

The FCC has mandated that all commercial broadcasters must air digital-TV
signals no later than May 1, 2002. Noncommercial broadcasters must do the same
by May 1, 2003.

Today, 173 stations covering 66 percent of the United States offer digital
programming, according to recent NAB estimates.

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