Beyond Transmission

Station groups turn their eyes to picture quality

With the DTV transition well under way, the NAB show in Las Vegas next month promises renewed interest in production. Once the FCC's DTV transition dates kicked in, broadcast stations focused their capital budgets on DTV transmission, and manufacturers of production equipment and tools turned their focus elsewhere—for example, to the Hollywood production community and its move to 24p.

Now that the station groups have done the heavy lifting of the DTV-transmission transition, they are open to purchasing new gear for the digital newsroom and HD production. It could be a boon to equipment manufacturers, many which have been treading water for the past couple of years waiting for the TV-station production market to return to pre-transition levels.

The introduction of Sony's optical-disk ENG system could also help reenergize the development side as other manufacturers of ENG formats and related gear keep pace and take advantage of the technology. It will also affect other areas, such as video servers. More than anything, it signals the beginning of the end of the use of videotape by broadcast stations.

Developments like optical disk could be important for another reason: IT-based products and systems play an important role in the broadcast environment, according to several station-group engineers. One even says technology leadership now resides with IT, not broadcast. Whether broadcasters can reclaim that mantle remains to be seen, but, with capital dollars flowing back into their coffers, they'll at least have a chance to keep with the IT Joneses.

The following pages offer a look at what several station groups will be shopping for at NAB.