The Digital TV Transition - dummies

By Danny Briere, Pat Hurley

The digital TV transition requires that analog-only TV stations must begin transmitting ATSC digital TV signals and that all stations turn off their analog broadcasts. The deadline for this transition, mandated by the FCC and the U.S. Congress, is June 12, 2009.

In the summer of 2002, the FCC made a ruling that, by 2007, every TV sold in America must have a receiver that can get ATSC broadcasts. This doesn’t mean that these TVs will be able to display HDTV (for example, they might not have a high enough resolution, or they may not be able to display widescreen content properly), but they will be able to receive it and display it at lower resolutions and at a 4:3 aspect ratio.

Here are some important points to keep in mind regarding the digital TV transition:

  • All broadcasts will be digital, even if the original source material was analog, standard definition NTSC. This doesn’t mean that standard definition television is going away.

  • Anyone who uses an antenna to pick up their TV signals will need to have a digital ATSC receiver (either built into their TV or in a separate, standalone device).

The federal government is helping by offering a converter box coupon to anyone who purchases one or two DTV tuners for their older analog TVs. This coupon could come in handy for that spare TV in the guest room or garage that picks up only over-the-air channels. Check out The Digital TV Transition for all the details.

After the television stations switch from analog broadcasts to digital broadcasts, , you don’t have to pitch your old TVs. Digital TV tuners enable you to watch DTV programming on older televisions. Of course, the picture quality and resolution won’t be as high as it would be with a new digital TV set, and you might not have a widescreen (16:9) aspect ratio, but you’ll see (at today’s resolutions and quality) the programming coming in over tomorrow’s digital networks.