Digital Glossary - P

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P1934 - Serial digital bus connector for interconnecting domestic units, sometimes known of as firewire and ultimately likely to replace the function of the SCART socket in analogue. The proper name for P1394 is IEE High Performance Serial Bus.

PAL - Phase Alternate Line. Television system used by both British terrestial and satellite broadcasters.

Parental Control - Ever since the 'V-chip' appeared to offer politicians a magic wand to protect our innocents from nasty adult television material, regulators have been chivvying broadcasters to do something about it. Broadcasters, meanwhile, have continued in their assertion that it is up to the parents to protect their young minds from filth and ensure that their offspring are in bed before the threshold of 9pm, when they reserve the right to start transmitting strong material. This rather simplistic stand-off actually masks the fact that most broadcasters actually go to great lengths to preview programmes to identify potentially offensive material, and to provide warning of passages which may be seen as offensive in some circumstances, such as train crashes when there has been a real incident, etc. Anyway, mindful of the pressures upon them, the DVB has assembled a panel of sympathetic regulators to consider the problem. Their report points out that a system that only applies to digital television would distort the market and not fulfill the requirement and they propose a new system for parental rating which should operate across all delivery platforms. The standardised descriptions would allow each consumer to avoid material which was personally offensive, acknowledging that what is considered offensive differs widely between countries, races and religions. A standardised system would be a help to programme providers and broadcasters and would therefore encourage its use. The system proposed would be based on industry self-regulation but include methods to deal rapidly with any abuse of the ratings system. An 'unrated' category is also proposed to avoid imposing the burden of rating content where it was not appropriate (eg normal commercial websites). The proposals will be submitted to regulatory authorities for their consideration.

Pause Point - A natural break in presentation where the aspect ratio can be switched without serious breakup or digital artifact. Black is best but it may be possible to switch on a still frame when the MPEG decoder buffer will be relatively empty

Pey-Per-View - The alternative to subscription and isr egarded by many to be the new source of income of the future, but essentially requires a return path. Where large numbers of people want to subscribe to an event in the minutes before it starts, a system can be overloaded. Rather than entitle individual IRDs, it may be better to download credit to the smartcard and deduct from that as a local transaction, which is subsequently signalled to the SMS overnight.

PCMCIA - The computer plug-in card which has the same physical size as the Common Interface module and is plug-compatible.

Phono - Round sockets that are commonly found on the back panel of satellite receivers for sending audio and video. Red for right audio, White for left audio and yellow for video.

POF - Plastic Optical Fibre. Recent alternative to glass, it has the advantage that its diameter is much larger and therefore easier and cheaper to join than conventional optical fibres. Applications include automotive electronics and in-home digital networks using IEEE1394. The Japanese Kobe University and Asahi Glass Company are acknowledged leaders in the field.

Polar Mount - Multi-satellite Dish mount, allowing a satellite dish to track the whole of the Clarke Belt.

Polariser - A device on a dish that separates one polarity signal from another.

Polarity - The ability of satellite signals to differentiate between signals of similar frequencies, thus allowing more channels in the available broadcasting space.

Positioner - Which either accompanies a multi-satellite receiver or is built in and controls the movement of motorised dishes.

Present and Next - Alternative form of Now-and-Next. Slang for the present and following events in an Event Information Table.

PSB - Public Service Broadcaster. Namely the BBC, which is funded by the licence fee

PSU - Power Supply Unit

PVR - (Personal video recorder) An alternate name for a DVR.

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