tv The Communicators CSPAN August 22, 2015 6:30pm-7:01pm EDT
people the efficient, effective, and accountable government they deserve. the communicators is a next with marc tayer. then a look at how the debate over immigration is playing out in the 2016 presidential race. iowa state fair with presidential candidates chris christie and bobby jindal. host: it is the 25th anniversary of the concept of digital tv, and one of those who was in the trenches to develop it is marc tayer. he is the author of a new book
and he is our guest for this edition of "the communicators." what happened 25 years ago and what happened -- and what was your role? marc: what happened was essentially the birth of digital television. more exactly of what that is, because it is a little confusing. but i was working for a company called general instrument based here in san diego. as it was known, was a technology conglomerate with headquarters in new york city. and one of the divisions was based here in san diego. and we were in the satellite and cable tv business. that's what led to the convention of digital television. of that was that our leaders were pioneers and --
pioneers in digital communications technology. the time wasat growing rapidly. we were encrypting the satellite tv signals of virtually all the u.s. content providers in the united states, such as hbo and cnn and espn and so on. that was still in the age of analog tv. note sincetant to its origins in world war i and world war ii last entry was based on analog technology, meaning a continuous wave representing the tv signal. being in the satellite tv real concernad a that was coming out of japan at the time. if you remember the conventional wisdom was such that japan was
rapidly becoming the top global economic power. and it would surpass the u.s.. of what everyone talked about today in terms of china. one of the components of that was japan through nhk had developed the high definition technology. everyone thought that was going to take over the next generation of consumer electronics. in response europe subsidized to the tune of $1 billion to keep japan out. that was another high definition system. there were fatal flaws in the european and japanese effort.
they were based on analog high definition technology. seemingly out of the blue we announced the world's first digital high-definition television system. it was really a technical shot in termsund the world of its impact on government and corporations. and on media worldwide. peter: what is digital tv and how is it different from analog? marc: digital tv is the intersection of computers with tv. of itss the entire chain adult tv production and distribution is converted to the zeros and ones of the computer -- such that they
are receiving the information. the consumer is reviewing the picture it has to be converted back to analog so that the system can perceive the signal. all the zeros and ones representing the tv signal from start to finish. tv, which to analog is a continuous wave area the best ways to think of the thesformation from continuous wave of analog to the zeros and ones of digital. but digital tv is not necessarily high definition tv. marc: correct. high definition television was the original to this for this here. high definition television really meant a dramatic increase
in the resolution of the picture, the number of pixels in any given frame such that it was a better picture to the consumer. our case it was based on digital. thatticipated early on high definition at the market would take many years to develop. that is in the original business plan i wrote for general instrument. we realized early on this was early 1990. one digitalto signal in a channel, meaning a cable, a satellite, or terrestrial broadcast channel, maybe we could fit up to 10 digital standard definition channels in the same channel.
that became the business in the 90's. we were able to generate revenue from that business before hdtv even started to take off roughly at the turn-of-the-century. the customers were something directv, and a lot of services able to launch. peter: how is it you ended up in san diego with g.i.? marc: a very fortunate circumstance. i had grown up in northern california but i was back east for a dozen years. when i got out of wharton business school in philadelphia i moved back to new york, where i worked on wall street before
business school. get into the technology world, because i found it exciting to be a the intersection of technology and business. that is where general instrument was headquartered. that was in the mid 80's. i took a job in strategic financial analysis in the g.i. corporate headquarters. at the time we had 17 different divisions of the company spread out all over the place. the idea was to give them an overview of the company and then have them placed at an operating division three years later. a lot of my peers had moved down to pennsylvania where our cable division headquarters was.
in september 1986 we did in diego and iin san helped analyze that acquisition from corporate headquarters. that was the equipment division. the business in san diego we had , which was encrypting all the satellite tv signals that were being delivered -- remember this was before the small dish came into being. there were 3 million large dish owners. that was the only alternative to cable. a 95% market share and the other 5% was a few million home dish owners. that was our business in san
diego. g.i. wanted to get into it in a bigger way. and enhance its cable business. so i started commuting out to san diego and they offered me a transfer out. that is how i got back to the west coast back in 1987. peter: it was the most by happenstance g.i. ended up being in san diego and it had something to do with the founder of qualcomm. marc: yes, it was very fortuitous. story is a of that company called -- which irwin jacobs and the cofounders of qualcomm started, and a third guy named jerry heller, who really was the father and visionary of the tv.
they were spread out at first because it was a part-time consulting endeavor. andrew was a professor at ucla. jerry heller was an engineer at jet propulsion lab in pasadena. jacobs had been the phd advisor at m.i.t.. they brought in jerry heller to be the first full-time engineer. he was about to buy a house in l.a. before he closed the next day irwin jacobs made a sudden decision he was going to leave asa professor and also join a full-time employee. jerry will move to san diego.
they were one of the -- one of the pioneers of digital communications. at that juncture jerry heller state with g.i. in san diego. that is when the whole digital tv thing started. a you think of san diego is munication center you have andbs starting qualcomm jerry heller staying with g.i. but essentially being the visionary behind digital television.
peter: when did it really become in use? marc: the initial customers in the early 90's. the 25th anniversary is back when it was a secret project within gis labs here. i was told to be the business guy and bring it out of the labs and turn it into a business. cbs convinced us we should submit it to the fcc for consideration as the next generation of broadcast standards. dodidn't have a whole lot to with the terrestrial broadcast network business. our cover was blown in what we were doing. at first everyone said it was impossible what we were
claiming. later all of our competitors were essentially following us and became a real high definition was going to take many years for the market to develop. in the second half of 1991, hbo, technical pioneer they were and still are, agree to field test our systems. and they launched it for the multiplex digital standard in november of 1991. international customers of hours in mexico and canada and even --entina jumps on the vandal jumps on the bandwagon in late 1991. that was for satellite delivery to commercial.
that first happened in 1994. they launched digital standard definition to consumers in the spring of 94, and then several launchedter direct tv two consumers also. was the first time that digital tv signals went all the way to consumers home. peter: it was just a couple of years ago the analog signal was switched off. what was the role in the fcc -- role of the fcc in developing digital hdtv. marc: they coordinate the plan by which the broadcast stations would get and it issue in oh
megahertz channel such that they ,ould transmit a digital signal and that allowed a long-term transition. many years later they coordinated the plan by which the terrestrial broadcast stations would give up their analog channel, turn off analog and the air forever, fcc was also involved in the standardization process of the digital terrestrial broadcast system. marc: -- peter: you talk about in your book that your early contributors were the jd will rockefellers and andrew carnegie's of their day.
marc: those media titans are still in charge of their media empires today. the individuals are john malone and rupert murdoch and a little younger. has come into his own as the ceo of comcast. ralph roberts died at age 95 just last week. these were the media pioneers and titans. understood something that was very important. i would say they understood it better than anyone else. content and technology are two sides to the same coin. understood the digital technology, they comprehended that if they tapped into that digital technology and used it
to further their businesses they could expand their media businesses worldwide. they built these businesses into multimillion dollar 80 a empires that are still top of the food -- multimillion dollar media empires that are still at the top of the food chain today. when it comes to the media business they are neophytes. peter: when you talk about to liberty media, right trying to malone'shn ever-changing position of tracking stocks, spinoffs, and acquisitions will make anyone's head spin. marc: that is very true. q is a phd in science operations.
in addition to all that -- he has a phd in science operations. in addition to all that he could make a wall street engineers head spin. he has so many assets and is always so many steps ahead of the game in terms of what to do with house -- with those assets. global,u have liberty which is the biggest cable operator by far outside the united states with about 24 million subscribers in about a dozen countries primarily in europe. you have liberty interactive as another public company, which owns a lot of e-commerce assets. you now have liberty broadband, which was spun off recently. liberty broadband was the entity that ended 20% of charter, the -- operator that is trying
and there are other entities of liberty. he is constantly trying to figure out the assets around. peter: what has been his role over the last 40 years in developing the way we watch video today? marc: he started as a consultant. cheap i through its division in himsylvania actually hired to head up the business. one of his biggest customers was which was the biggest cable operator of its day raised in denver. they then hired john malone to build up tci. they built tci into the biggest
cable operator. he was the biggest customer on the cable side. when he came to san diego and saw our digital television demonstration he immediately recognized a couple of things. first, that our technology would enable competitors through cable to finally develop the death star, or these high-powered satellites that could send a dishes, whichese eventually became directv. he saw he needed to use this to bring cablen into the digital age. he realized that immediately. there was a western cable show 1992 when he
announced a vision of the 500 channel universe. there was a metaphor. what he meant was no longer told consumers be hostage what the distributors were sending and overtime digital technology was so flexible and so powerful that it would allow consumers to be masters of their own destiny. the 500 channel universe was really a metaphor for that. in the late 90's he ended up at&t for $48o billion. latert a few years acquired that from at&t. that is how the roberts family became the new king of cable. peter: over this past the five year how regulated has been this
develop meant -- five-year regulated has this development in -- development in been? there were two different situations. the first was they were concerned we had to much market power for our encryption technology, but they agreed we were a legal monopoly, and that does sound like a month -- sound like an oxymoron. the second time we got caught in a firefight between viacom and tci and prime star over control of our digital technology, and they thought we would have to much market control over digital technology. that ended up getting resolved as well. thatrms of regulation, at
stage the main area of the fcc was involved with had to do with program access rights, which allowed directv to get all the content they needed once they launched their satellite. there was some pricing regulations. and then they were involved with standardizing the next generation of advanced television standards, which became the grand alliance hdtv system. large,s of the market at our customer base of hbo and espn and tci and comcast, that was pretty much market driven. peter: what is next? we went from black and white tv , sd to hd. to cable what is coming up next? there are a lot of
activities going on simultaneously. you read all the time in the media, and this is one of the reasons i felt like i need to write this book, netflix and youtube are really digital. and they are. but they were the fifth generation of digital. first of went over satellite, then cable, then terrestrial fiber.st, then dsl and fifth was the internet, which may be the most exciting of all, .hich is not where it started this 25 year arc traces that hdtv is now very mainstream. one of the important technologies being developed right now and being rolled out into the market is called ultra k -- or 4k.
there is a lot of chicken and egg situations being worked out, very much like how hdtv finally broke through about 18 years ago. ultra hd alonght with some related technologies as the next generation of tv and video technology. peter: we are talking with marc tayer, author of this book , "televisionaries: inside the innovation fo the digital revolution." been watching "the communicators" on c-span. >> c-span, created by america's cable company's 35 years ago and brought to you as a public service by your local cable or satellite provider.
lily garcia is president of the national education association. on this weakens newsmakers she talks about education policy, including standardized testing and congressional efforts to rewrite the no child left behind law. watch the interview tomorrow at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. eastern. >> this week on first ladies, influence and image, we learn about ellen and edith wilson. after a year and a half serving as first lady she tell gravely ill and passed away. president woodrow wilson remarries edith wilson, and he suffers from a stroke, making her primary role as his companion and later guardian. she also became the first first lady to travel to europe.
and edith wilson sunday night at 8 p.m. eastern on seat -- on c-span's original series, first ladies coming influence and image. from martha washington to michelle obama, sundays at 8 p.m. eastern on american history tv. >> coming up next from washington journal, a look at the debate over immigration and where the 2016 presidential candidates stand on the issue. -- on the issue. . and then a discussion on the future of digital technology. >> "washington journal" continues. host: a discussion about immigration issues and campaign -- in campaign 2016. two guests joining us. mark krikorian of the center for
immigration studies. of theli noorani national immigration forum. guest: so far, it is all immigration all the time. on the republican side, you have candidate trump driving the field to the extreme right, where you have a, in our opinion, disasters immigration policy. on the left, you have hillary clinton and bernie sanders, and martin o'malley, tried to compete for the latino vote that they know will be incredibly important in the election. that is really the mystery of the spirit on the republican side, they know that in order to get to the white house, they will need has been, but they are failing to make a compelling case at this point. host: mark krikorian, how is it
being cast this time around? guest: my sense is we are seeing shaking the traditional cards. is talking about getting the aesthetic for up to a certain percent, i'm not convinced. immigration is something that is left versus rightvers but up versus down. they don't understand why the public is concerned about this. sanders and trump are not conventional left-right candidates. is ank what you are seeing real reshuffling of the deck for fullump -- disclosure, i'm not a big fan of -- is actually ean