WASHINGTON Regulators reacted cautiously this week to reports that the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) would revisit the divisive issue of whether to include an alternative modulation scheme in the U.S. digital TV standard.
Proponents of a rival scheme, called coded orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (COFDM), have criticized the performance of the vestigial sideband (8-VSB) standard specified by the ATSC for its poor indoor reception of DTV signals. The Federal Communications Commission has so far resisted the efforts by some broadcasters to re-open the standards debate.
Even so, while recently launching a biennial review of the conversion to digital TV, the FCC said it would consider new field test results when judging the success of the conversion.
An FCC official said ATSC is considering the narrow issue of whether 8-VSB is meeting its performance requirements. The official said the FCC couldn't "re-jigger" the ATSC specification to include COFDM because it would throw off the FCC's table of channel allotments and create other problems.
A task force, newly formed within the ATSC to review the DTV signal reception problem, was scheduled to meet for the first time today (March 31). Mark Richer, ATSC's executive director, said that the group hopes to make recommendations to the ATSC's executive committee in six months, and to build consensus on the issue among ATSC and non-ATSC members. The meeting is open to anyone who has material interest in the subject.