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Fcc Will Endorse Standards For Digital Broadcasting

Mon., Dec. 23, 1996

Federal officials this week are expected to endorse standard technology for launching next-generation, digital broadcasts that can be seen on TV sets or computer screens.

The Federal Communications Commission said it will approve the standard, pounded out during months of negotiations between the TV and computer industries, either today or Tuesday.

FCC approval will set digital TV officially on its way with its theater-crisp, precision images, multi-channel capacity, and expected big-ticket consumer price. The first commercially available digital TV sets should be available by 1998, broadcasters and TV-makers say.

Once complete, the FCC’s vote will require all digital TV broadcasts to follow the same technology standard. That uniformity is what broadcasters said they needed to invest in digital technology.

While the compromise sets standards for how signals should be compressed and delivered, it leaves out one of the most contentious pieces of the puzzle - how screens will display the picture.

The standards don’t dictate what kind of video format should be used - the broadcasters’ favored interlace mechanism, which they use today, or the computerindustry preferred progressive scan, which personal computers use.

That means broadcasters will be free to transmit interlace signals or progressive signals, and consumers will have to decide what kind of terminal they want to receive them. Current TV sets can accept both kinds of signals, but PCs are designed to accept progressive transmissions only, though they can be retrofitted to accept both.

Broadcasters and TV makers concede that the progressive format is likely to dominate all receivers in the future.

In other events this week:

Today

Spokane City Council meets at 6 p.m. to consider transferring the cable TV franchise from Cox Communications Inc. to Tele-communications Inc., and possibly changing the laws regarding the Public Development Authority to include parking facilities.

U.S. Department of Commerce releases November personal income-spending.

Tuesday

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Portland releases draft environmental impact statement on role of fish hatcheries in the Columbia River Basin.

Securities trading closes at 11 a.m. for Christmas Eve; bond trading stops at noon.

Wednesday

Christmas Day. U.S. financial markets, banks and government offices closed. Some foreign markets open.

Thursday

Chinese Premier Li Peng visits Moscow.

British financial markets are closed for Boxing Day.

Friday

Commerce Department releases November durable goods.

Saturday

New state rules for determining how long a dairy farm in violation of sanitation laws should be penalized, or have its license revoked, go into effect. For information, call 360-902-1883.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: Interest rates

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: ON THE SHELF Forbes, Dec. 30: Did last month’s ice storm leave you cursing your inefficient fireplace? Forbes looks at a growing alternative: gas fireplaces. Sales are soaring along with the stock price of some companies that make the heaters.

The boys club Nearly a fifth of Fortune 500 companies don’t have women directors, a recent survey says. There are 417 Fortune 500 companies with one or more women on their boards, a gain of 13 companies or 3 percent from the previous year, says the survey by the Catalyst group. Women hold only 626 - or 10.2 percent - of the total 6,123 seats at the nation’s 500 largest companies. Last year, women held 9.5 percent of a total of 6,274 seats.

This sidebar appeared with the story: ON THE SHELF Forbes, Dec. 30: Did last month’s ice storm leave you cursing your inefficient fireplace? Forbes looks at a growing alternative: gas fireplaces. Sales are soaring along with the stock price of some companies that make the heaters.

The boys club Nearly a fifth of Fortune 500 companies don’t have women directors, a recent survey says. There are 417 Fortune 500 companies with one or more women on their boards, a gain of 13 companies or 3 percent from the previous year, says the survey by the Catalyst group. Women hold only 626 - or 10.2 percent - of the total 6,123 seats at the nation’s 500 largest companies. Last year, women held 9.5 percent of a total of 6,274 seats.



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