When All Digital TV Arrived Were We Ready

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The midnight on February 17, 2009 marked the end of analog broadcast television transmissions in the United States. At that time, all full-power terrestrial television stations turned off their analog transmitters and broadcast solely in the Advanced Television Systems Committee Digital Television Standard. This dramatic shift in the fundamental technology of television broadcasting affected an estimated 120 million television households in the nation, as well as more than 2,000 full power television broadcast stations that were licensed by the Federal Communications Commission. Program providers such as cable and satellite operators that retransmit television programming into American homes also adapted accordingly. Each of these entities has a vested interest in assuring that the transition to digital broadcasting progresses smoothly. If it does not, there will be major repercussions for all involved. As FCC Commissioner Jonathan Edelstein then noted, “If we don’t get this right, we could face a tsunami of public outrage.”

A number of key groups had an interest in a smooth transition: over the air television broadcasters, the U.S. government, television manufacturers, multi-channel video program distributors, and lastly, television viewers and consumers. The nation has less than a year to make the final preparations for the analog to digital television conversion. Was everyone ready then?

Who wants HDTV?
In his influential 1995 book, Being Digital, Nicholas Negroponte devoted an entire chapter to high-definition television in which he made a passionate case that the primary problem with television at that time was not with image resolution or aspect ratio, but that the primary deficiency was programming content.

Negroponte stated: There is no proof to support the premise that consumers prefer better picture quality rather than better content. This is particularly true given that the solutions so far proposed for HDT V may not even result in enough noticeable image improvement, compared with the studio quality television available today. HDT V at the current level of HD is just silly. What a difference a decade makes. It now seems clear that television viewers do, in fact, care about image quality and size. The number of U.S. homes with at least one HDTV quality set reached 100 million by the end of 2009. Digital television sets were predicted to outsell analog models in 2007 for the first time in history and they did so. What has changed since Negroponte made his critical comments is the proliferation of less expensive, high quality, large screen televisions that use a variety of display technologies. HDT V prices dropped as television manufacturers ramped up the mass production of new and improved high definition displays.

A dramatic increase in the amount of HDTV programming telecast on broadcast and cable channels is also fueling this sales increase. A surprising number of homes with HDT V sets are not subscribing to HD level programming, which begs the question of what they are watching on these sets. The probable answer is widescreen programs on conventional DVDs and the newer Blu ray and HDDVD formats. The new high-definition formats provide very high quality images on HDT V sets, but programs played on conventional DVDs look surprisingly good, especially when viewed in 16:9 wide-screen mode. This may also assist in the sale and rental of compendium DVDs of television series such as CSI, 24 and The Sopranos and many are available in wide-screen formats in the DVD versions.

By: Francis David

Francis helps people understand the DISH Network DISH TV Service and DISH Network receivers. He can help you find the best DISH Network Deals for new customers.

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