Prepare for the Digital TV Transition

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 33,540
    Broadcastingcable.com discusses how to prepare for the digital TV transition.

    Joel Topcik: Hi, I am Joel Topcik from Broadcasting & Cable magazine. For more than 75 years Broadcasting and Cable has been the definitive news source on every aspect of the television industry.

    Today, I would like to introduce you to a video series on the digital TV transition. This is one of the biggest changes in the history of broadcast television and you are going to want to know what it means to you. You will learn everything from how it will affect that vintage TV set in your home to what it means if you are a cable or a satellite TV subscriber. You will learn about different types of Digital TV sets, antennas and other resources available. We will show you an actual demonstration of over-the-air digital TV and you will see a step by step installation of a Digital-to-Analog converter box.

    Finally, you will learn all about the Government programs that can help you pay for one of those converter boxes should you need one. So let's get started with an overview of digital TV and the coming transition with Jonathan Collegio of the National Association of Broadcasters.

    Host: What is Digital TV?

    Jonathan Collegio: Digital TV is a new way of broadcasting information over the air waves that's more like a computer than it is a radio signal or the older forms of transmissions that we used to have. So the transmissions are actually in data bits like a computer and when you transmit through data bits you are actually able to eliminate all the interference and fuzz and the little things that can tweak a picture; none of that exists in digital. So when folks are receiving a digital signal, they are receiving a crystal-clear DVD quality picture in their homes.

    Host: What are the advantages to Digital TV?

    Jonathan Collegio: The upside of digital TV for viewers and for television stations is enormous. You have crystal-clear pictures and sound quality, more channels because you are able through the digital signal to be able to broadcast more programming using the same amount of air waves. So you can actually broadcast up to four programming streams at the same time, that's called Multicasting. You can also broadcast in High-definition. It's impossible, I wouldn't say it's impossible but its very, very difficult to broadcast an HD signal in an analog format. So by broadcasting in digital, all of a sudden, television stations across the country can broadcast High-definition programming.

    Host: Is HDTV the same as Digital TV?

    Jonathan Collegio: Digital TV -- when we talk about DTV, we are generally talking about standard definition Digital television, DTV. HDTV is the highest form of that and the difference between them is like; if you were to look at a newspaper and you look really, really closely at the print in the newspaper you will see a lot of little dots. Television is the same way. Its broadcast a lot of information in little dots. When you go to a magazine, a full color magazine, you look really close and you can no longer see those dots, that's the difference between HD and DTV.

    Host: What happens to free-over-the-air TV broadcasts during the Digital Transition?

    Jonathan Collegio: On February 17th, 2009 all television stations across the country, full-power television stations must discontinue broadcasting in analog signal and after that point, will broadcast exclusively in a digital format.

    Host: Who will be affected by the Digital TV Transition?

    Jonathan Collegio: Viewers of broadcast television who get television through antennas and who don't have digital tuners inside of their television will be impacted by the digital TV transition. We estimate that to be about 19.6 million households across the country that receive television exclusively through antennas in their households and then another 14.9 million households across the country that are hooked up to cable or satellite or another pay television service that then have a unconnected antenna set in the back bedroom or in the basement or in the kitchen or an RV or something like that. All of those sets have to be upgraded by February 17, 2009 or they will not be able to receive that new digital programming.

    Host: How do I upgrade to Digital TV?

    Jonathan Collegio: Well, there are three options for a consumer that needs to make the upgraded digital television. The first is to buy a new television. All new sets have digital tuners integrated within their sets so if you buy a new television set and it has an ATSC digital tuner in it, you are taken care of. You can also get a Digital-to-Analog Converter box, that takes a digital signal out of the air through the antenna and then converts it into analog for your older television set.

    The third way and final way to upgrade to digital is to just make sure that you are hooked up to a pay television service like cable or satellite or BIOS or another pay television service.

    Host: If I decide to get a new digital TV what should I do with my old TV set?

    Jonathan Collegio: Probably, best not to throw it away. There are a lot of folks who would like to use those sets. We have been working with Goodwill Industries and they have a massive recycling program for older sets and you can also visit this website, mygreenelectronics.org, and on that website you can type in your zip code and find a television recycling facility near where you live. This way you can recycle a television set instead of throwing it into a landfill. Host: Where can I find more information about the digital TV transition?

    Jonathan Collegio: There is a wealth of information for viewers who want to make the upgrade to digital. At dtvanswers.com, it's the best consumer education website out there about the DTV transition. dtvanswers.com, has a variety of different materials from how to make the upgrade to digital to finding out all the options that you might have for antennas, a lot of different resources for consumers to take the steps that they need to take to make that upgrade to digital television.