XETV and KSWB Swap Networks

In February, Ed Wilson left his position as President of the Fox Television Network to become President of Tribune Broadcasting. The next month, he announced that Tribune’s TV station KSWB in San Diego would take over the Fox affiliation from XETV August 1, 2008, ending channel 6’s 22-year run with the network.

The race was on for KSWB Director of Engineering John Weigand to outfit the station not only for news, but high definition. Last Friday the station did just that, airing a four-hour morning program and hour-long 10 PM newscast, both in HD. This after a year of outsourcing news entirely to NBC O&O KNSD.

During the four months, they installed multiple Sony PMW-EX3 1080i cameras, a Ross Vision switcher, and related furniture and terminal gear. Crews from Tribune sister stations KTLA Los Angeles and WGN Chicago helped out.

Meanwhile, XETV negotiated with the CW Network to assume that affiliation on the same August 1 date. The contract wasn’t finalized until July 3, with 29 days to air.

The only technical challenge for XETV after changing web domain names was converting its DTV chain from the Fox Network’s elegant MPEG splicer that doesn’t involve decoding to the CBS distribution scheme that involves decoding not only HD video, but Dolby E audio, then rencoding AC-3 on an MPEG2 stream downstream of local switching. XETV aired the first night of CW with simple stereo audio, not having yet received the Dolby equipment.

There were a few stumbles during the transition, like Dish Network’s swapping channels, DirecTV’s forgetting to swap HD resolutions, KSWB’s 40 minutes of silence to debut its morning news, and XETV’s lip sync issues. But KSWB successfully introduced HD news, including ENG, and at a new price point as the technology advances.

The author is Director of Engineering for Bay City Television, US Operators of XETV Tijuana. 

Harris to Host HD Sideband Talk with Dinner

Harris is pleased to invite you and your engineering staff to a special dinner and presentation from 6:00 PM until 8:00 PM on Wednesday August 13th at our favorite spot, The Butcher Shop. Dinner is being served at 6:30 PM.

Harris will be featuring their latest Value Engineered products and a presentation provided by Tim Anderson on the proposed -10dB HD sideband power increase and how this will affect you. Tim has more than 30 years experience in broadcast engineering. He joined Harris Corporation in August 2007 as Radio Product Line Manager.  Prior to joining Harris, he served as a broadcast engineer for iBiquity Digital, developer of the HD Radio™ standard.  While there, he was instrumental in the development and testing of the HD Radio transmission system and advanced application services.

Come enjoy a great dinner and informative presentation complements of Harris. Since Dinner is provided I would request that you confirm you can make it and give me a head count of the folks that will be coming so we can prepare accordingly.

Thanks for taking the time and I hope to see you there.

RSVP with head count to al.jason@harris.com.

August 2008 Meeting – Arbitron PPM

The People Meter is coming to San Diego, and the good people at Arbitron would like you to understand how it works. Join the SBE Wednesday, August 20 at noon at Clear Channel Communications, for lunch and a talk. The PPM is up and going in Philly and Houston.
Sam Brown of Arbitron says:

The Arbitron Portable People Meter™ system uses a passive audience measurement device—about the size of a small cell phone—to track media exposure. Carried throughout the day by randomly selected survey participants, the PPM™ device can track when and where they listen to radio as well as how they interact with other forms of media and entertainment. The PPM detects inaudible codes embedded in the 1kHz to 3kHz portion of broadcast audio. It is also equipped with a motion sensor, a patented quality control feature unique to the system, which allows Arbitron to confirm the compliance of the PPM survey participants every day. At the end of each day, the survey participant places the meter in a docking station that extracts the codes and sends the data to Arbitron.

One of the first important steps in bringing PPM to San Diego is informing the engineers in the market about PPM encoding. For this, an SBE meeting is an ideal forum. Our presentation includes a demo of the system, examples of the equipment, Q&A, etc. which should make for an informative and entertaining meeting. Arbitron PPM SBE meetings have been well-received in other markets where we have introduced this exciting technology. We look forward to meeting you soon.

We start at noon with a lunch provided by Arbitron, followed by a presentation on the workings of the PPM system.  Should be out by 1:20 PM. Clear Channel is at 9660 Granite Ridge Drive. We have some door prizes from SCMS, including some nice headphones and a microphone. As always, members and guests are welcome to attend.

July 2008 Meeting – Surround Sound

The July 16 SBE meeting appears to be a real blockbuster. We’ll take a look at 5.1 surround audio and how it affects a broadcast facility.

  • Why the transition to DTV and 5.1?
  • What problems does this present to a broadcast facility?
  • Format compatibility
  • Metadata, including Dialnorm, digital rights management, downmixing etc.
  • Metering and monitoring for 5.1
  • Solutions: Facility implementation, production strategies, routing, embedding within SDI

Solid State Logic, Wohler Technologies and Dolby Laboratories™ will each have representatives. Between the three manufacturers, and with consultation from outside parties such as Roger Charlesworth of Charlesworth Media, we will address the above topics. Each manufacturer will present on their area of expertise, and SSL will be the main host of the presentations. No product oriented presentations, but on the individual request of an attendee, we can schedule more personal meetings and presentations in the future.

We anticipate one hour for the event, with each topic being given approximately 5-10 minutes for presentation and then we would like to have a Q&A session for the chapter to be able to quiz the professionals and ask questions for areas of specific interest or concern to them. We will also pull together a documented version of the presentation for distribution amongst the attendees.

We recommend the meeting for both radio and TV engineers interested in staying current with surround technologies.

Members and guests, join us July 16 at noon at TV Magic, 8112 Engineer Road in Kearny Mesa.

Your Own Little Piece of Satellite Dish Heaven

Local member Walter Johnson asked if we would mention his special estate in Jamul. He’s retired now and moving closer to family. He explains:

I live in central Jamul very near the Oak Grove Middle school and about 10 minutes from Miller Canyon Road that leads to Mt. San Miguel. I have very good line of sight to Mt. San Miguel.

At one time I had 14 satellite dishes which I used to test data broadcast modulation techniques to small and large dishes. Along with that I have a workshop equipped for satellite signal monitoring. I hate to see all this ripped out by a new owner that is not technical.

I would like to make the availability of this unique situation know to the engineers that work at Mt. San Miguel  and their friends in the industry. I have put together a simple web site that describes the property.

Good luck Walt.

Society of Broadcast Engineers, San Diego