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Weekly AUDIO NEWS for April 17, 2002

Yet Another Dolby Decoding System: E - Dolby Labs designed Dolby E to make the transition from stereo to multichannel audio easier for digital TV broadcasters. Dolby E-encoded audio never reaches the consumer; it is re-encoded to Dolby Digital for digital cable, satellite, ATSC and DVD digital telecasting and re-encoded to Dolby Surround for analog media. Over 100 TV networks and major post production studios worldwide are now using Dolby E. It is a complete solution for TV pros who need to carry eight channels of audio plus Dolby Digital metadata via a two-channel digital audio infrastructure. Major broadcast equipment manufacturers - including Sony, Panasonic and Thomson - are members of the Dolby E Partner Program. Adoption by the industry has made it the de factor professional audio coding standard for the distribution of multichannel audio.

Film and video post production is also migrating to Dolby E and at the same also to a 24-frame image standard - replacing the 30-frame standard of NTSC video. This improves and simplifies video-to-film and film-to-video transfers since it eliminates the need for 3:2 pulldown operations to match the two differing frame rates. (Similar to features such as “PureCinema” and equivalents in home video monitors.)

May 1 HDTV Launch Deadline At Hand - Anyone with an actual HDTV receiver, a HDTV-Ready receiver, or planning the purchase of either should be aware of the May 1 DTV deadline established by the FCC back several years ago and fast approaching. On this date all of the country’s over 1000 commercial TV stations (the non-commercials come later) are supposed to begin broadcasting digital signals. Only 200 are on the air so far, and naturally all the others are simply not going to make the deadline. The National Association of Broadcasters has been trying to have the deadline moved, listing holdups such as stations’ problems getting space on towers, converting all their equipment to digital, the absurdly high cost of the digital transmitters and associated gear etc. The FCC recently voted to allow smaller stations to start digital telecasting at reduced power, meaning their coverage would be much smaller than for their simultaneous analog telecasts. (DTV doesn’t just look a bit snowy or ghosty in fringe reception - it is either there or not.) Another FCC rule change allows all stations to telecast digitally only three hours daily instead of their full schedule. And one look at the latest HDTV program schedules for the networks shows there is still very little for a non brain-dead viewer to watch...

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