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The End of TV As We Know It: The Digital TV Transition. (and what to do about it) Jon Bell, Presbyterian College Faculty Forum, 21 September 2007 with some later updates. How People Get TV. Source: Television Bureau of Advertising, http://www.tvb.org/. The Big Switch.

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The End of TV As We Know It: The Digital TV Transition


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    1. The End of TVAs We Know It:The Digital TV Transition (and what to do about it) Jon Bell, Presbyterian College Faculty Forum, 21 September 2007 with some later updates

    2. How People Get TV Source: Television Bureau of Advertising, http://www.tvb.org/

    3. The Big Switch • By the morning of February 18, 2009, all analog broadcast TV stations in the USA must shut down. • Everyone who receives over-the-air TV with an antenna must switch to digital TV stations which are mostly already in operation.

    4. Why the Switch? • Improved picture quality (HDTV) • More efficient use of bandwidth • Vacate channels 52-69 for other uses and raise money by auctioning them • More bandwidth for emergency services • Keep ahead of the Japanese

    5. Some Alphabet Soup • Analog broadcast & cable TV = NTSC • National Television Systems Committee • Or: “Never Twice the Same Color” • Digital broadcast TV = ATSC • Advanced Television Standards Committee • Also used in Canada, S. Korea, Bahamas, Honduras & Mexico • Europe uses DVB-T • Japan & Brazil use ISDB-T • Digital cable TV = QAM • Quadrature Amplitude Modulation

    6. Key Dates • 1996: Congress authorizes transition • 1997: Each station gets a second channel for digital broadcasts • 2002: Most stations have begun digital broadcasts • 2006: Most stations are at full power • 2006: Congress sets final deadline • 2008: Subsidized converter boxes

    7. ATSC Tuner Mandates

    8. Greenville Channels (1)

    9. Greenville Channels (2)

    10. Columbia Channels

    11. The Digital TV Experience • Improved picture quality • Analog with weaker and weaker signals • Digital with weaker and weaker signals • Program guide information • Display depends on TV or receiver • Virtual channel numbers • Multicasting

    12. Not great to begin with…

    13. Getting worse…

    14. Still worse…

    15. Yuck!

    16. The Digital TV Experience • Improved picture quality • Analog with weaker and weaker signals • Digital with weaker and weaker signals • Program guide information • Display depends on TV or receiver • Virtual channel numbers • Multicasting

    17. Picture stays like this until…

    18. it’s right on the borderline…

    19. and then it’s gone!

    20. The Digital TV Experience • Improved picture quality • Analog with weaker and weaker signals • Digital with weaker and weaker signals • Program guide information • Display depends on TV or receiver • Virtual channel numbers • Multicasting

    21. Typical Program Guide

    22. Another Program Guide

    23. The Digital TV Experience • Improved picture quality • Analog with weaker and weaker signals • Digital with weaker and weaker signals • Program guide information • Display depends on TV or receiver • Virtual channel numbers • Multicasting

    24. Virtual Channel Numbers • Stations will continue to “own” their old analog channel numbers, in perpetuity. • Digital TVs display them as virtual channel numbers and automatically convert them to the actual digital channels. • You must do a channel scan so your TV can find the actual digital channels and set up a conversion table. • You normally don’t need to know the actual digital channel.

    25. Typical Channel Scan Indicator

    26. The Digital TV Experience • Improved picture quality • Analog with weaker and weaker signals • Digital with weaker and weaker signals • Program guide information • Display depends on TV or receiver • Virtual channel numbers • Multicasting

    27. Multicasting • Total data capacity (bandwidth) of a digital channel is about 19 Mbits/sec • Stations can divide it into sub- channels with different programming • SC ETV (channel 29) • WSPA (channel 7)

    28. ETV subchannel 29.1:Same as analog channel

    29. ETV subchannel 29.2:South Carolina Channel

    30. ETV subchannel 29.3:High definition PBS programs

    31. Multicasting • Total data capacity (bandwidth) of a digital channel is about 19 Mbits/sec • Stations can divide it into sub- channels with different programming • SC ETV (channel 29) • WSPA (channel 7)

    32. WSPA subchannel 7.1:Same as analog channel but in HD

    33. WSPA subchannel 7.2:24/7 weather information

    34. So Far, a Well-Kept Secret • Stations have generally not promoted their digital channels yet • Some retailers claim that you need to buy cable or satellite service in order to get HDTV (FALSE!) • Expect increased publicity from stations and government agencies during the next year

    35. If you use an antenna for analog TV: • You must either • Buy a new TV with an ATSC tuner • HDTV (widescreen plasma, LCD, DLP, etc.) • SDTV (old-style tube TV with ATSC tuner) • Buy an external ATSC tuner (“converter box”) • Federal subsidy program begins in January 2008 • Likewise for VCRs and old DVD recorders, if you use them to record directly “off the air”

    36. Subsidized Digital-to-Analog Converter Boxes • Free $40 coupons • Good only for specifically designated converter boxes, purchased at retail • Round 1 – 22 million coupons, up to two per household • Apply at http://www.dtv2009.gov/ beginning 1 January 2008 • Boxes available in February or March

    37. If you use an antenna for analog TV: • You must either • Buy a new TV with an ATSC tuner • HDTV (widescreen plasma, LCD, DLP, etc.) • SDTV (old-style tube TV with ATSC tuner) • Buy an external ATSC tuner (“converter box”) • Federal subsidy program begins in January 2008 • Likewise for VCRs and old DVD recorders, if you use them to record directly “off the air”

    38. Antennas and Digital TV • Digital and analog TV use the same set of VHF and UHF channels. • An antenna cares only about the frequency of the signal (VHF or UHF). • Analog vs. digital matters only to the TV’s tuner. • An antenna that works well with analog channels will probably work well with most digital channels.

    39. Local Antenna Conditions • Greenville stations are 20-80 miles away, several in the NC mountains. • A good roof antenna is needed. • Must be able to receive both high-VHF (7-13) and UHF (14-51) channels. • A rotator and pre-amplifier are helpful. • A good setup can also receive some stations from Columbia and Charlotte.

    40. Local Antenna Conditions • Greenville stations are 20-80 miles away, several in the NC mountains. • A good roof antenna is needed. • Must be able to receive both high-VHF (7-13) and UHF (14-51) channels. • A rotator and pre-amplifier are helpful. • A good setup can also receive some stations from Columbia and Charlotte.

    41. If you use cable TV: • You are not directly affected by the analog broadcast shutdown in 2009. • Cable companies must provide local channels in analog format until 2012. • Starting in 2009 they will convert broadcast digital signals for this purpose • They will probably convert other analog channels to digital during the next few years.

    42. If you use satellite TV: • It’s already digital, so you are not affected by all this, except maybe peripherally.

    43. Resources • Federal Communications Commission • http://www.dtv.gov/ • Subsidized converter box program • http://www.dtv2009.gov/ • Info about HDTV and especially antennas • http://www.hdtvprimer.com/ • Info about TV signals by location • http://www.antennaweb.org/ • http://www.tvfool.com/ • Discussion forums • http://www.avsforum.com/ (see the HDTV Area)