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Idol Nixes JVC, Returns to Sony

American Idol’s experiment with first-generation HDV technology came to an abrupt halt as Idol producers returned to the Sony DSR PD-150 standard-definition camcorder. The problem? The single-chip JVC HDV camcorder could not deliver quality video and audio images.

“We’ve gone back to using the images from the PD-150 cameras, and we find they look better than the JVC images,” says Idol producer Simon Lythgoe. He adds that producers had huge issues with the first-generation cameras: “Being a reality show, we’re inside and outside a lot. The cameras couldn’t cope with the light change.”

However, Lythgoe adds, Idol will take a look at the just introduced Sony HDV cameras that have three chips for imaging, solving many headaches experienced with the JVC cameras. (A one-chip camera has one computer chip processing all picture information. The three-chip camera dedicates one chip each to processing red, green and blue signals, ensuring purer picture quality.) One problem: Fox requires acquisition in 720p, but Sony cameras record only in 1080i (although they do output 720p). Says Lythgoe, “We’re going to try and do a deal with Sony for those cameras.”

WNET Emergency System

WNET New York gave a live demonstration of its emergency-responder system to government officials last week. The GUARD system (Geospatially-Aware Urban Approaches for Responding to Disasters) provides police, fire and sanitation workers with better communication in the field. Next up: allotting additional TV spectrum in the New York City area to expand coverage and features.

Harmonic Acquires BTL

Harmonic has paid about $8 million to acquire UK-based Broadcast Technology Ltd. and will integrate it into Harmonic’s Convergent Systems Division. Harmonic’s headend and edge-server systems already fully support BTL receivers, decoders and other products. Says Dr. Yaron Simler, president of Harmonic’s Convergent Systems Division, “Pairing the BTL professional multi-decoder system with Harmonic’s standard- and high-definition encoders helps us play a stronger role in the content-delivery chain, which grows our market potential.”