Digital Television Essay, Research Paper
On November 1, 1998 computer companies, television makers, broadcasters, and program suppliers have made a transition from analog to digital television. When the FCC passed a law forcing the networks to change from an analog broadcast to a digital broadcast, all the above mentioned industries have been scrambling to get a jump on their competition.
The picture and sound qualities of digital TV broadcasts are the best on Earth. However, at this moment cost remains a big problem. You can spend anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000 at the present time (Booth 80). Once the cost is driven down over the next few years, the average citizen will be able to experience the advantages of digital TV.
Digital TV will allow for a wider screen display, like those screens in movie theaters, and a sharper picture. What causes this perk is the fact that digital signals have a higher bit rate. This allows for more bits to be transmitted into the TV (cable, antenna, or satellite). The more bits a TV can transmit, the better the picture or screen resolution. The digital TV signal can carry as many as 19.4 megabits of data, which means a broadcaster can mix multiple programs of varying bit sizes onto a single channel. Say you?re watching a football game, since one camera view only uses up so many bits, you can select a different camera angle while watching the same game on the same channel. It is possible for a network, like NBC, to show two different programs at the same time on the same channel. Conceivably, if the president in on, you can watch regular scheduled programming.
With the introduction of the digital TV, the introduction of WebTV is upon us. One will be able to surf the internet through the television instead of using their computer. That is how the computer industry is involved in the digital TV. What companies like Sony and Microsoft hope to do is combine the TV and PC into one unit. They believe they can diminish the lines between consumer electronics and computers. Ultimately, both companies would like to make things more convenient and interface both industries. This will force computer companies and television makers to get on the ball and compete with these two corporate giants.
What will the transition to digital TV be like? Like any new radical product transition, the changeover will take some time. There will be the people who will adopt early and pay the high prices to get the first sets. There will be varying degrees of value. Some people will buy the movie screen type display with the 16×9 aspect ratio. Others may want a digital TV with the screen size ratio we have now. That will allow for a drastically sharper image. Some will want the DTV-ready box. This is a converter box you set on top of your current TV, and it will change the image to a sharper digital image. This could give you an extra 10 years out of the TV you currently own. The industry is flexible in learning how to merchandise a mix of changing products. They?ve done it hundreds of time before and will certainly do it again. One example is the introduction of the audio compact disk.
On November 1, 1998 the era of digital TV began. It isn?t available nationwide yet. The current markets include the 12 largest cities in the U.S., where 30 DTV stations began airing DTV programs on new channels assigned by the FCC. Come next spring, 15 more stations in another 11 cities will hit the airwaves. This will extend the coverage to about four of every ten American TV households. Here is what the FCC hopes to accomplish: nationwide coverage by 2003. During the year 2006, the FCC hopes to discontinue analog broadcasts all together (Booth 78). That goal isn?t set in stone since many other factors will come into play, many of them being political.
What turns on TV sets is programming that people want to watch. During the analog era, viewers have tolerated ghosts and snow in order to watch their must see TV. Americans only want the best available equipment and digital TV is available now. The average American will wait a few more years to get in the game, and the FCC is counting on everyone to play. Despite the FCC?s goal of cutting off analog broadcasts after 2006, legislators won?t pull the plug until nearly everyone has purchased some form of DTV. Until the prices of DTV compete with analog sets, the inception of DTV will depend on the broadcasters? ability to air programs that will ensure that the extra money spent on the DTV set?s resolution is worthwhile.
1. Booth, Stephen A. ?Digital TV Turns On.? Popular Science November 1998: 76-82.
2. Comer, James P. ?Digital TV Advantages.? Popular Electronics December 1997: 32-34.