Harmon gets tough: In legislative hearings over the stalled rollout of digital television last week in Washington, Rep. Jane Harmon, (D-CA.), took broadcasters to task for what TV Technology called their "sense of entitlement." Having received 6MHz of free bandwidth for digital transmissions, broadcasters have been reluctant to return their analog licenses, a provision that was part of the deal from day one. "They somehow seem to feel they deserve compensation," Harmon told reporters. She has asked her congressional colleagues to adopt the Homeland Emergency Response ("HERO" Act) to enforce a 2006 analog shut-off deadline, with no loopholes. That date is now only 18 months away.
In the same hearings, Thomas Hazlett, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, proposed that the government buy satellite boxes for over-the-air TV recipients, of which there are between 10 million and 15 million nationwide. Estimated cost for the subsidized boxes: about $3 billion. The total number of antenna-dependent viewers may be down to only 5% of the total by 2009, estimated Federal Communications Commission (FCC) media bureau chief Ken Ferree.
TiVo enhancements: On June 9, TiVo, Inc. announced several new service enhancements for subscribers with Series2 digital video recorders. The added features include online scheduling and home media networking. TiVo subscribers should now be able to connect to all of their favorite content—including music and photos—simply by linking
their TiVo Series2 DVRs to their home networks. TiVo also announced a new multi-service pricing plan: the first TiVo service subscription in the home is the standard $12.95 per month, while each additional TiVo service subscription is just $6.95 per month. The plan cuts the subscription fee for additional TiVo boxes "almost in half," according to a company press release.
Another new feature for Series2 subscribers is the ability to move content between two or more TiVo boxes in the home. Previously, this was available only with purchase of the TiVo Home Media Option. As of June 9, it's included in the standard $12.95/month subscription rate.
QuickTime upgrade: Apple Computer is testing a new video compression scheme that may improve its QuickTime Player. Known as MPEG-4 part 10 or H.264/AVC, the development is the next step in MPEG-4 standard video compression technology. The technology should support high-definition video encoding, according to comments made by QuickTime product marketing senior director Frank Casanova.
High-rez from TI: Texas Instruments (TI) has announced a new DLP SXGA+ chip claimed capable of 1400 x 1050 resolution. The semiconductor giant says new chip offers the highest single-chip resolution available for the projector market today, with exceptional brightness and contrast ratio. TI touts the primary advantage of a single-chip DLP projection system is the prevention of misalignment over time, ensuring consistent, sharp images. Products incorporating DLP SXGA+ technology will be announced soon, according to a June 10 press release.