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Good To Go

In a radical departure, the Sinclair Broadcast Group is publicly singing the praises of the U.S. DTV transmission standard. The broadcaster has been testing Zenith's fifth-generation receiver chipset. The good news? The chip was able to receive DTV signals in areas it previously could not.

"We have always believed that if you don't have indoor reception, you don't have an over-the-air service," says Nat Ostroff, Sinclair vice president, new technology. "I congratulate Zenith for sticking with it."

Sinclair gave the latest receiver chip its seal of approval after conducting tests in Baltimore. Over the years, Sinclair has put the U.S. DTV standard's 8-VSB modulation scheme through its paces, testing indoor reception throughout the city. The broadcaster had publicly backed changing from 8-VSB to European standard DVB, which did a better job of indoor reception.

With indoor reception now possible, Ostroff says its time for the industry to turn digital broadcasting into a real business. That means cranking the transmitters up to full power to ensure that all viewers in a market can receive the signal.

"Until this point, that didn't make much sense. If the signal reached the home, it was bouncing around so much, the receiver couldn't deal with it," he says. "But with this receiver, it's possible."

Ostroff adds that, if broadcasters want the over-the-air digital service to be as successful as the analog one, educating the public is key. "The idea of free HDTV is a selling point broadcasters have to focus on," he says, "if they want it to remain a viable separate service."