Goodbye to Analog TV
Many television stations currently broadcast both analog and digital signals. However, the days are numbered for analog signals, picture and sound carried on electromagnetic waves. Digital signals are the way of the future, and if you have a trusty television with an antenna, you'll need to make some changes soon or the screen will go dark...
The End Of Analog
It seems incredible, but some 19 million television viewing households still exist outside of the digital cable and satellite universe, where there are 500 channels and still nothing on TV. Plenty of older televisions with numbered channel knobs, UHF dials, and rabbit ears are still going strong. But changes, they are a comin'...
February 17 June 12, 2009, the analog TV signal system will be turned off, and stations will transmit digital signals only. Televisions that receive only analog signals via the traditional rabbit ears or rooftop antenna and will no longer work. Households without digital cable or satellite will either have to go digital, buy a converter box or start enjoying radio.
It's a serious matter because most of the analog-only households are among America's poorest. They either don't want cable or satellite TV or they can't afford new televisions, satellite hardware, new antennas or significant monthly fees. If you are already receiving satellite or cable television, the switch will probably be purely academic. But in addition to the 19 million who still receive exclusively over-the-air analog signals, there are millions more who have digital cable but also own at least one analog television.
Digital to Analog Converters to the Rescue
To help ease the transition, each affected household will be offered up to $80 worth of free government vouchers to buy converter boxes which will convert the digital signal to analog, enabling those older televisions to continue to bring you endless hours of courtroom drama and riveting talk shows. It is expected that the vouchers will cover about half the cost of the converters.
Anyone who needs one will be able to apply starting in 2008, and there will be a limit of two $40 vouchers per household. Eventually, those old televisions will cease to function and everyone will have to buy TV sets with digital tuning capability. It will still be possible to buy analog TVs for a while - and they'll probably be cheap - but they won't be called televisions. Legally, they'll be called monitors.
Why the Switch to Digital TV?
Why are they doing this? Digital signals allow for much more information, lots of metadata, such as programming info, language dubs, closed captioning and subtitles. The switch will also assist the other changeover - to high definition. Oh, and it'll also bring us in line with the rest of humanity, which has already begun to dump analog.
Proponents of digital say the picture and audio quality of the signal is significantly clearer and sharper than analog and that is most people's experience. There's no video noise on digital as there is on analog and no signal degeneration from dubbing to affect the production process.
However, there are those who prefer analog, especially for audio, and say analog gets a bum rap mostly because most stations don't service their analog equipment, so it's old, dirty and inefficient and puts out a lower grade signal than its capable of. The reality is that, ever since Congress passed the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005, analog was as doomed as the 8-track, Betamax and Laserdisc. The switch from analog television will free up much needed radio frequency spectrum for emergency services.
There's a lot that can go wrong with the switch, which will cost the US taxpayers at least $1.5 billion. The most likely snafus are that there won't be enough vouchers to go around and that $80 per household won't be enough to buy that nice old lady with the corner doublewide the new converter. Another strong possibility is that a tidal wave of publicity set to begin in 2008 still won't be enough and millions will learn of the change for the first time on
February 17 June 12, 2009 when they tune into the Today Show and see just static. The timing of the switch isn't a coincidence, though. The government hopes a final publicity drive during the Super Bowl will reach most affected households - and they'll make the necessary changes before March Madness.
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 9 May 2007
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Goodbye to Analog TV (Posted: 9 May 2007)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved