February 21, 2008

Digital Television Transition

In one year, on February 17, 2009, television as we have known it will change. That's when all television broadcasters, with the exception of those with low power (LP) transmitters and TV translators, are mandated by the federal government to exclusively transmit their signals digitally, instead of using analog technology. A new survey from Consumer Reports National Research Center found that more than 1/3 of Americans who have televisions are not aware of the upcoming change, and many more are confused about it.

Marcia Franklin examines the DTV transition with three guests: Peter Morrill, General Manager, Idaho Public Television; Thomas Wyatt, Deputy Bureau Chief of Consumer and Governmental Affairs for the Federal Communication Commission (FCC); and Brian Danza, Special Assistant, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

The shift to digital broadcasting will improve picture sound quality, allow for more channels, and free up valuable analog spectrum for public safety organizations. But it will also mean that traditional television sets receiving broadcasts via antenna will not function without a special converter box.

Franklin and her guests will discuss how to receive a converter box, as well as the options for purchasing digital-ready sets. They will also talk about the reasons for the conversion in the first place, the difference between digital television and high definition television (HDTV), and what will happen with the freed-up analog spectrum.