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PROFILE: Jim DeFilippis

Jan 7, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Title: Jim DeFilippis, VP of engineering, News Technology Group, a unit of News Corp., the parent company of Fox.
Background: Mr. DeFilippis joined News Technology Group, a division of News Corp. that primarily works on technology issues for the Fox TV Network, in late 1996. Prior to joining News Technology Group, he worked with the Atlanta Olympics Broadcasters on the television committee for the 1996 Olympics. In the early ’90s he worked with the Advanced Television Test Center in Alexandria, Va.
The advent of digital TV: Mr. DeFilippis is currently focused on digital TV. “Our charge was to look at the transition and see what impact it would have on the company and how we could optimize and take advantage of it. We look at the whole chain, studio to home, and how do we optimize it and convert this to digital television.”
It’s about the picture: “This was about providing better pictures than what people have at home. But how much better is better and at what time does it become de minimus returns? How good is good enough?” Mr. DeFilippis’ group decided after numerous tests that 480 progressive at a 16×9 aspect ratio delivered in full quality is more than sufficient to provide a picture at four-times-higher quality than current TV, he said.
The marketing of HDTV: “HDTV is just a marketing term. There is no clear definition of HDTV. Our charge was we need to do something that fits within the model of the business, remain competitive and be perceived as high quality by our audience. Our official line is we are not going to play the game of high definition. We deliver high-quality TV in 16×9, digital surround sound at 480p. Some people say you have to do 1,000 lines to do HDTV. I don’t even like the term `high-def.’ There is no engineering definition of what constitutes high-def.”
Digital delivery: Fox currently delivers about 60 percent to 70 percent of its prime-time shows in the digital format. Fox TV stations that can provide digital programming receive a 16×9 feed in addition to the NTSC 4×3 feed. Within the next year, Mr. DeFilippis expects Fox to offer about 90 percent to 95 percent of its episodics in digital. During the next year, Mr. DeFilippis’ group will work on delivering the two feeds simultaneously and on producing a sports event in 16×9.
The crystal ball: “It’s not a huge audience [for digital]. In 18 months, I don’t see a huge audience, but I see a growing audience, and the way to grow it is to continue to deliver interesting content.”