Home > Uncategorized > Digital Transition (Part 1)

Digital Transition (Part 1)

Today Best Buy announced it will no longer going to sell analog televisions. This could have some interesting implications for users of television, good and bad. The main good thing to come out of this is the, “Wait, analog TV is going away?” reaction. Since this is a Best Buy announcement, that is probably the only good thing to come out of it, but it’s a very important reaction. A majority of people do not know the over the air analog signal will be shut down on February 17th, 2009. This is 8 years after the original mandate but who’s counting, right? At that moment, anyone receiving their television over the air will lose their signal. Let me give you a little history.

When the Clinton administration announced their plan to balance the budget in the 90’s, it included the sell-off of the analog TV spectrum. For some reason, the government (mainly the FCC) thinks it owns the broadcast spectrum renting out licenses to stations instead of allowing them to own them creating another monopoly just like the United States Postal Service. The sell-off will generate billions and I’m talking BILLIONS of dollars of revenue for the US government. So at the base of all this is, you guessed it, to make money.

However, the plan to make this conversion was never fully hashed out leaving it mostly up to the stations to comply by a certain date but no instructions on how to do so. 1999 became 2003 and 2003 became 2009. A number of “stays of execution” have been proposed but this is going to be it. So what happens February 17th?

What happens is pretty much the proverbial flip of a switch. Stations will shut off their analogue transmitter and will turn on their digital transmitter. Fortunately, a lot of TV stations are already running a digital signal to compliment their analog. So don’t feel like you have to sit around and wait until the last minute. Star immersing yourself now.While some people complain this is happening without their consent and they don’t want digital television, there are a LOT of benefits.

Television can be received three ways: cable, satellite, and over the air. Even though it’s not a majority, people still receive free broadcast TV over their air through an antennae of some sort. Most likely receiving the standard NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, and PBS stations if they’re really lucky and only one of each from each nearby station. What digital allows TV stations to do is multi-cast, send out multiple channels all at once including high definition stations which I will touch on at another time. For example, currently the station I work for broadcasts 8 standard definition channels and 2 high definition channels between two transmitters. A year ago we only had one channel between two transmitters. This means a lot more choices for everyone including the over the air viewers. Digital television also has a much clearer picture than analog even though some people won’t notice it until they are seen side by side. Digital signals can also contain a 5.1 surround channel that many home surround sound systems are set up for.

So what do you need to do in order to prepare yourself for the digital switch? Probably a LOT less than you think. Stay tuned for my next piece in the digital transition as I tell you what you need to do.

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Categories: Uncategorized

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