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Author Topic: DTV Transition  (Read 2171 times)
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« on: December 09, 2007, 09:07:11 PM »

Congress has now passed legislation requiring all conventional "analog" TV broadcasting to stop on February 17, 2009. After that date, your local television broadcasters will be making only "DTV" broadcasts. If received via an antenna these broadcasts will require different TV tuners.

DTV stands for "digital television," or, in this case, the broadcasting of digital television by local TV broadcasters. The signals are sent from local transmitters, over the air, to homes, by modern digital techniques rather than the older "analog" methods that are not as efficient.

Will there be any charge to receive these digital channels?

No, broadcasts that are now free (or advertiser-supported) to consumers who receive them via antennas are expected to remain free. (It is possible that additional "pay" services may be launched in the future, but these are not expected to replace the free services offered today.)

 For more than half a century, TV broadcasts have used the technology that was invented in the 1920s and 1930s, and refined (by adding color) in the 1950s. In 1997, when broadcasters became interested in HDTV, and in order to find additional space for emergency communications and advanced services, the Congress decided that it was time for TV broadcasting to move to more modern and efficient "digital" techniques, which allow broadcasters to offer more channels to viewers. So, Congress instructed the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") to assign to broadcasters new and different "DTV" channels and, after a "DTV Transition" period, to have the broadcasters return their old analog channels.

    * The frequencies used for the old "analog" channels will be re-assigned for other uses through an "auction." Holding an auction for these frequencies will free up space for new "broadband" and other communication services, and will help emergency responders to coordinate their communications. (Finding new frequencies for emergency communications became a high priority after September 11, 2001.)

I now subscribe to cable or satellite—Do I need to be concerned about the end to free, over-the-air analog broadcasts?

You will probably not notice much change for those TVs hooked up to your cable or satellite service, but you might be missing out on some opportunities. Cable operators pick up most local broadcasts at a central location and send them to homes over cable; satellite services increasingly are able to do this as well. It is likely that they will continue to provide whatever free local broadcast programming they currently provide to you, even after there is this change in broadcasters' means of transmission. However:

    * If you have TVs in your house that are not hooked up to your cable or satellite service, and rely on an antenna to receive conventional broadcasts, you will need to make alternative arrangements to keep watching these TVs.
    * In the future, cable operators might also move to "all digital" means of delivery, which could mean you would need to lease a "set-top box" or own a TV with a digital cable tuner (such as one with a "CableCARD" slot) to continue to receive the channels you now view on a conventional TV.
    * If a local broadcaster launches several new digital channels, a cable, satellite, or other programming service operator might not agree, or be required, to carry all of their local channels, or to carry them in HDTV. You might, therefore, need a DTV or HDTV tuner and an antenna in order to receive those channels.

Does my TV have a DTV tuner? What about my VCR, DVD recorder, PVR, DVR, etc.?

Most of the televisions that have DTV tuners are those that have been sold—since about 1998—as having an "integrated" HDTV broadcast tuner. Most of these products are also capable of displaying HDTV, so they are sometimes advertised or sold as "HD Built-in." (An HD set sold as a "monitor" or "HD-ready" is capable of displaying HDTV but does not have a built-in HDTV tuner.) The FCC now requires that any larger TVs with "analog" tuners also be marketed with built-in or separate DTV tuners, and this will soon be a requirement for all TVs—so you should be seeing more and more "integrated" or "built-in" products in stores. (Some of these may be "DTV" or "EDTV" sets that cannot display full HDTV.)

    * Separate HDTV broadcast tuner products have been available for several years. (You are likely to know if you have one.) Now that the Congress has passed its "transition" legislation, you can expect to see "DTV Broadcast Converter" products that, when hooked up to an antenna, convert the new digital broadcast signal to an old analog signal that your older TV can tune and display.
    * Most VCRs, DVD recorders, personal video recorders ("PVRs") and digital video recorders ("DVRs") do not presently have HDTV or DTV broadcast tuners, even though they may record by digital means. (However, if one of these products has a slot for a "CableCARD," it does have an HDTV or DTV broadcast tuner.) "DVRs" provided by cable operators do not have digital broadcast tuners (cable operators use a different means to transmit digital signals), but some provided by satellite operators do. The considerations for supporting these non-TV products are similar to those for your present TVs.


Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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