AfterDawn: Tech news

US probably won't be prepared for DTV transition

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 26 Jul 2007 19:26 User comments (42)

US probably won't be prepared for DTV transition Despite most consumers being unaware that their analog television receivers won't receive broadcast signals early in 2009, the US government has only budgeted $5 million to educate them.
John Kneuer, head of the agency responsible for assuring the transition goes smoothly told the Senate Commerce Committee today that the broadcasters are responsible for educating the public.

The transition has already begun in some key areas. Cathy Seidel, chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission, said that as of March 1 all television receivers shipped in the U.S. were required to have digital tuners.

By contrast, $1.5 billion has been budgeted to give vouchers for converter boxes. Initially, $990 million will be used to pay for coupons and cover administrative costs, which are capped at $110 million. An additional $510 million may be allocated, but those coupons are reserved for households that have only over-the-air television.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is concerned that consumers who don't get the word would take it out on their elected representatives. "They're not going to call you," she told Kneuer. "They're going to call me. And they're going to be mad."

Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters, said stations will begin airing public service announcements worth "tens of millions of dollars" early next year.
Source: Yahoo News

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42 user comments

126.7.2007 19:43

Hopefully retailers are doing what they can, but they can only educate a handful of people: people that are in the market for a tv, and not all customers go around looking for recommendations.

At least for those who are in the market for a tv will find it harder and harder to find a pure analog tv in the first place.

226.7.2007 20:04

They make it sound like they're in a state of emergency, it's just TV people. Why the hell is the government spending money on this?

326.7.2007 21:44

uhh . . . what percentage of Americans even use air waves anyway? Cable and satellite I am sure are the vast majority. So who cares?

426.7.2007 23:48
fgamer
Inactive

Originally posted by 713tex:
They make it sound like they're in a state of emergency, it's just TV people. Why the hell is the government spending money on this?
Um..the government uses the airways too you know so this is important. It's used as an source to tell Americans whats going on (such as if we're at war etc). When theres an emergency the most effective way to get to millions of Americans is through the television, or when the white house has important speeches that's crucial to many Americans. So it's kinda stupid to brush it off as just not that important... because it is. It's a source of communication to millions of Americans, it's not just what we watch movies on. I swear some peoples brains can only think so far!

527.7.2007 0:41
aabbccdd
Inactive

its not the government's place to spoon feed every American out there about new tech. most people are indifferent to this stuff anyway so if there going to be on top of whats happening(the consumer) they need to do the footwork there selfs

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 27 Jul 2007 @ 0:42

627.7.2007 1:18

Tune into antenna channel 6... I mean Google Mobile

727.7.2007 2:51

I guess they will have to just wake up in 2009 and turn on the TV and just get snow on the screen and then go ape crapp all over it and wonder why its not working. Then the Govt will smile with glea because then people will be forced to buy the new product.

827.7.2007 3:03
fgamer
Inactive

Originally posted by aabbccdd:
its not the government's place to spoon feed every American out there about new tech. most people are indifferent to this stuff anyway so if there going to be on top of whats happening(the consumer) they need to do the footwork there selfs
It's not about the government spoon feeding anybody, clearly this is important for the reasons I listed in my earlier post. DId you not read? The government uses the airways too and it's crucial that those people are able to get an signal to their television just in case for communicational reasons. I think that should not be ignored..theres some old people out there that may not be reading the internet like you everyday. Those are the main ones who need to be educated and maybe even your granny or mother. So stop making excuses to leave people in the dark about this important issue.

927.7.2007 4:21

It's this simple: the government wants to free the analog spectrum used for broadcast television so they can auction it to the highest bidder. That's how they can afford to give everyone a conversion box. The wireless internet industries (ie. Wiimax) are salivating to get ahold of this analog spectrum because of it's reach. (How many homes can off-the-air TV reach today?)

1027.7.2007 6:12

I never knew this till now, does it mean like you use an antena or just old tv's in general?

1127.7.2007 9:31
aabbccdd
Inactive

Originally posted by 21Q:
I never knew this till now, does it mean like you use an antenna or just old tv's in general?
Yes, i get all my local channels in High -Def with a rooftop antenna at no cost
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 27 Jul 2007 @ 9:31

1227.7.2007 12:27
radrk1
Inactive

Originally posted by SProdigy:
It's this simple: the government wants to free the analog spectrum used for broadcast television so they can auction it to the highest bidder. That's how they can afford to give everyone a conversion box. The wireless internet industries (ie. Wiimax) are salivating to get ahold of this analog spectrum because of it's reach. (How many homes can off-the-air TV reach today?)
if I recall correctly; the frequencies used to broadcast digital sources are the same as those used to broadcast analog. this is why you can use your old analog antenna to collect digital broadcasts.

1327.7.2007 14:17

I'm not sure but I think the channel spectrum above 50 is closed to HDTV and is to be auctioned off in the future. The lower VHF channel analogs have relocated to the UHF spectrum for HDTV during the changeover but I think can go back to the VHF spectrum after transition is completed if they want. Most likely won't go back to the lower VHF channels because the signal is more subject to interference resulting in poorer picture quality. The upper half of VHF seems to be OK for HDTV broadcasts.

1427.7.2007 16:54

I get over the air tv via antenna ...it sucks. I see cable tv when I travel in hotelrooms ...it sucks. Why pay? I have a 1984 Sony KV25xbr 25" tube set which people ask me if it's HD because of the superb image quality. Why should I change? I'm pissed off that the gov chooses to dimantle the existing system to create a crappy one that is nothing other than a scam to push ads & movies that finally come on over the air tv for free. I won't pay for that! I don't want 10 channels teaching me to cook and Al Jazeera!! I don't care if I can watch soccer matches live or view smut on ppv. I don't want a $3000 tv when I can get one for 1/5 of that. I don't want a plasma screen that craps out after 2 years. I don't want an lcd that nobody knows how to fix and gets holes in it (even right out of the chinese box). I wanna sit in my chair in my bvds and fiddle with the horizontal and vertical controls and the rabbit ears and eat my bologna sandwich on white with Hellmans and drink my pabst blue ribbon in peace! Is that too much to ask?

1527.7.2007 17:15

Most stations here are broadcasting DTV at least for now. Not all are HD ready yet especially in the studios. Everything here is in the UHF range except for the PBS and it is on channel 3. I have been using a HDTV Tuner from Pro Brands and does fairly well most of the time. I had to rework my antenna but the PBS is still touch and go. In HD mode I can display it on my analog TV using the composite input. The picture is excellent. I do have cable which is analog and years away from going digital here. I found out the very new sets with digital tuners will work on the analog cable but the picture is terrible unless you buy a HD set still with the Tube which are getting hard to find. The cable has a digital box but is nothing more than the analog with movie channels. To go HD they will have to run fiber optic cables and they just got the coax installed right. There are a lot of those who still have turret tuners and rabbit ears around here. Where I live is not a rich section of the country. It's mostly rural and farms. When you drive around you see a lot of yards with defunct dishes. They try the introductary offers and when they find out the real monthly costs and it is dropped. They take the boxes back but the dish usually stays. Simply put it is going to take longer to go digital than they think.

1627.7.2007 17:26

must be a guy from West Virginia where the state tree is the satellite dish ...shame on the gov to take so little care for people who can ill afford these screw ups while just tryin' to put food on the table and a roof over the head ...I'm with you, brutha!

1727.7.2007 18:48

Originally posted by fgamer:
Um..the government uses the airways too you know so this is important. It's used as an source to tell Americans whats going on (such as if we're at war etc). When theres an emergency the most effective way to get to millions of Americans is through the television, or when the white house has important speeches that's crucial to many Americans. So it's kinda stupid to brush it off as just not that important... because it is. It's a source of communication to millions of Americans, it's not just what we watch movies on. I swear some peoples brains can only think so far!
I thought the government keeps people and companies from broadcasting on certin frequincies because they're only for emergencies. Also, when ever the president has somthing to say the broadcast companies give him the air time. So if there is a war on we'll still find out about it. So back to my point, why does the government care if people know about this "DTV transition"? People will figure out that somthing's wrong when all they pick up is static on their old tvs. Also, that's alot of my money being wasted.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 27 Jul 2007 @ 18:57

1828.7.2007 5:29

When I lose power, I sure as shit expect to turn on my portable TV and get some news.

1928.7.2007 5:34

DTV is important on many levels. If the clueless, obese, Walmart-going imbeciles of America are too stupid to understand what's needed for DTV by Feb. 2009, then DTV is the least of their problems.

2028.7.2007 8:00

Sorry guys are you suggesting that if the local TV transmitter got blown down in a storm or was damaged and nobody in that locality could receive an analogue signal, and a war started but nobody would know about it ?
Like nobody would listen to their car radio any more or read a newspaper or talk about it? When the 1st WW began TV didn't exist and during the 2nd world war almost nobody except the very wealthy had one but we still managed to keep the whole nation informed, I'm afraid I agree with 713tex it is just TV we have managed to survive as a species for millions of years without it.
Also do Americans get the internet over their TV antennas? or their telephone ! I think not!
Jim, a Brit in Amsterdam

2128.7.2007 9:11

A typical waist of money by our government.

At this point if you're not aware that we are going to HDTV digital broadcast including LAN base systems and satellite transmitting, ALL broadcast systems, you haven't been watching TV for the last decade or so or read the news.

Iím not sure what the FCC has planned for the VHF frequencies but they could expand the FM band since it shares the VHF range. The VHF range in channels is CH.2 thru CH.13 and CH.14 and above are UHF (for the US).

You have to be a real bone head if you canít see the difference between SD and HD. Maybe if you think that way we should just go back to black and white or better yet letís just read books and listen to the AM radio, what a joke. My only problem with the new broadcast format is they should have gone higher and implemented the 1440p resolution, if we are going to jump we should go all the way.

As to the emergency air waves we have radio as well as TV to receive by and really how important is it. If we get nuked itís all over anyway. If we are attacked Iím guessing we will find out one way or another. I purposely donít watch commercial TV because of commercials but also so that I donít have to be interrupted for silly nonsense like weather alerts and when the president feels it is important to interrupt my TV viewing. If there is bad weather and Iím concerned guess what I can turn to a news channel and find out whatís going on besides you also get that loud siren that alerts you as well.

2228.7.2007 17:59

It's so conservative for those who feel everyone should be as smart and rich as they are to know so much about DTV. I am not rich and glad to say not a conservative (politically) but have struggled to learn about DTV and the ultimate HDTV. In 2006 47% of HDTV's sold were returned because the stupid sales people in stores like Bestbuy and especially Circuit City did not know what they were selling. Bestbuy has this year made some effort to educate their sales force to keep the returns down. Circuit City is still in the stupid mode by laying off what they had that did know something about what they were selling. Analog TV when the signal is weak the picture is a little snowy but with digital if the signal is weak all you get is a lot of little blocks and no sound. I see this on the HDTV Tuner I have been experimenting with. Dishes do the same when the weather is bad. Personally we should stick with Analog but corporate America wants to screw everything up to just make a bick. Congress and the FCC has been lobbied so much on this they have forgotten the original intent of going digital anyway. Analog is infinite and digital is just a bunch of one's and zero's. Our congress is just a bunch of zero's anyway for pushing this on us and lying about the availability of settop Tuners for those still with older TV's.

2329.7.2007 1:50
fgamer
Inactive

Quote:
Originally posted by fgamer:
Um..the government uses the airways too you know so this is important. It's used as an source to tell Americans whats going on (such as if we're at war etc). When theres an emergency the most effective way to get to millions of Americans is through the television, or when the white house has important speeches that's crucial to many Americans. So it's kinda stupid to brush it off as just not that important... because it is. It's a source of communication to millions of Americans, it's not just what we watch movies on. I swear some peoples brains can only think so far!
I thought the government keeps people and companies from broadcasting on certin frequincies because they're only for emergencies. Also, when ever the president has somthing to say the broadcast companies give him the air time. So if there is a war on we'll still find out about it. So back to my point, why does the government care if people know about this "DTV transition"? People will figure out that somthing's wrong when all they pick up is static on their old tvs. Also, that's alot of my money being wasted.
Well you prove my point, obviously the media networks gives them airtime that they request alot of the time..that means they're are using the airways too. If they still want to get their messages out for whatever it is, I'm sure they feel like they shouold help with the conversion process somewhat. I don't think it's alot of money..most people don't know about this because it hasn't been shown on TV or anything. You act like people are automatically going to know about these networks going solely digital (alot of people still don't know the difference between digital and analog because they're not geeks like you)..most people still don't. This isn't an every day new tech gadgit thing...it's an issue that needs to be explained to people..because they just don't know about it. Not everyone reads these articles on websites like Afterdawn..most other well known websites aren't even reporting on this stuff..mainly only tech sites are.

2429.7.2007 4:40

First to clarify a few misconceptions stated by others:
- VHF and UHF are not disappearing.
- VHF channels 2-13 will be used for ATSC/digital televison
- UHF channels 14-50(?) will be used for ATSC/digital
- Anything above 51 will be reassigned to something else, probably wireless broadband internet

.

And now my opinion: These corporations are collecting trillions of dollars selling new HDTVs, new HD-DVRs, new HD discs, new HD-to-NTSC converters, and on and on and on.

*They* should be the ones to pay the humongous bill,
for education or supplying analog-to-digital tuners,

not taxpayers.

"The rich get richer and the poor get poorer." I've heard my mom say this to me every day I was growing-up, and as I observe the actions of rich corporations I have to agree. By the way, I'm a conservative Republican, but even I can see that this is simply a way to sell more product & make trillions of dollars for corporations. Let THEM pay the associated costs incurred by the upgrade. As the Chairman said, ".....broadcasters are responsible for educating the public....."

Oh.

And is TV necessary? Yes, but it's not necessary to upgrade. There's nothing wrong with our current 720x480 analog standard. Nothing at all. It entertain us, it shows us the news, and in some cases even educates us. There was no need to upgrade. ----- And as others have stated, if people wake-up on February 20, 2009 and their sets show nothing but static, it's not the end of the world. They can listen to their car radios as they drive to Sears to buy a new digital-to-analog tuner. They won't be out-of-touch with world events. This is not some kind of emergency requiring gov't to rape citizens' wallets for more cash.


- NTSC/analog == crap
- ATSC/digital == same crap, but 5 times clearer

2529.7.2007 10:18

awcrap...does anyone in the USA remember 9/11 ?? On that day, I found out about it on a radio show. The fantastic EBS (Emergency Broadcast System) was not even used. Does anyone really think the gov is saving bandwidth for emergency use?? It's grabbing the analog TV VHF frequencies back to resell them for big bucks!! Get real!! The Democrats are money grubbing pork producers. And, the Republicans are money grubbing pork producers. Why not hire Halliburton & BodogFight to run the government & military and be done with it??

2629.7.2007 12:47
Ballpyhon
Inactive

Let me get this straight, the government (AKA corporation of America) is going to pay for us to get the analog to digital converters, so those of us with 5 standard definition analog TVs on our houses don't have to sacrifice our TVs to the garbage dump and go out and buy $10,000 worth of new TVs? Or are we going to just be SOL?

2729.7.2007 13:05

deleted because of a moment of retardation ;)

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 29 Jul 2007 @ 13:07

2829.7.2007 16:43

don't hold your breath!! Maybe a couple of people will get some token funds to make press. Last time we had a power outage in a winter storm that lasted the better part of a week, the power company made a big stink that they were distributing dry ice in local points...we went for ours only to find they had given out what they had in less than 5 minutes from the start ...300,000 people out and 200 pieces of dry ice ...get real, don't stand there expecting something from the gov unless you pay for it ...when dealing with the gov, wear stainless steel bvds or get ready for the pain!!

2930.7.2007 10:35

33% of americans are still watching over the air, broadcast television. Most of them are low income households.

3030.7.2007 10:35

33% of americans are still watching over the air, broadcast television. Most of them are low income households.

3130.7.2007 10:54

you can say that again!!

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 30 Jul 2007 @ 15:22

3230.7.2007 14:43

As I understand it is the most of the vhf frequencies will go to emergency and the military use. These frequencies work best for handheld units especially in buildings, rough country with mountains and in some cases underground like caves. This was a lot of the problem during the 911 disaster because the emergency crews and police could not respond to each other. I have only seen where channel 3 on the vhf is being used by some stations. The problem there is the power kept low to keep interference down where some TV's still use 3 or 4 for connections. I assume when the old stuff goes away they will be able to up the power. Something else new is a local PBS radio station is going to go digital with 5.1 sound. So now we will see a change in radios coming.
The number of families with older analog sets is much higher than the FCC wants to say. They lie all the time. Just think how long it took for B&W TV's to finally get replaced by Color sets. I lived through it all working on them. All the major manufacturers had to use the RCA chassis for a couple of years but when RCA released the patent on the design sets dropped in price overnight just like VHS beating out betmax. If Sony had not been so greedy we may have been using their format today.
They are still on a learning curve and when they make a HD set that has a good picture with a analog signal for a decent price that is when I buy one. My cable works great and I can channel surf and not wait for 5 seconds to get a picture like digital does.

3330.7.2007 18:15

so let me get this straight ...they take back the vhf bands for emergency/military ...of course, that's here on US soil ...so, I spoze we better be ready for marshall law ŗ la Blackwater with a fat contract for Halliburton in there too!! We are gonna get what we paid for ...that's for sure!!

3413.8.2007 11:15



85% of america has cable television. That means 85% will wake up on February 2009, and still have operational televisions.
Your article exaggerates the problem, because 85% of america is already prepared and will never notice the analog switchoff.

3513.8.2007 14:16

who cares about the other 15%, eh?
furthermore, the gov has such a fine track record with their hairbrained projects...
on 9/11 the us was attacked from within by a foreign enemy (like, maybe, the only analogy beign, maybe, pearl harbor or okla city)...
did anyone see the emergency broadcast system activate ...not me!!
more waste, more bull ...what a shame it all is!!
let's turn everything over to the gao and the scientologists ...maybe david duke is available to head it up ...no, wait, cheny is gonna be up for grabs pretty soon ...now that's a plan!!

3615.8.2007 6:46

I am part of the 85% with analog cable. I agree it is satellite and over the air signals that will change to all digital over night and those on antennas and dish units will be without. I have noticed that my cable is experimenting on how to convert the over the air channels digital to resend it in analog. The picture is either small with bars or over scanned to the point you cannot see any ticker stuff at the bottom of the screen. They cannot for some reason just get the signal by satellite. These are all the local stations and for some reason will not provide the signal unless the cable company pays for it. I bet they will change their tune when their picture is gone off the cable. There is another cable company that does receive the CBS by a fiber optic line and is having a terrible time with the picture freezing for minutes at a time. There is a lot of finger pointing and say that the converters for the fiber optic is unreliable and they are installing different units. I have worked with fiber optics and it is good but if the interface connections the light conversion electronics is not the best then there will problems.

I noticed a dish company with a serious talking lady that they will have 150 HD channels starting at $29.99 but that is starting. When they add all the installation and other $20 fees it get to about $79 a month. I checked and a had to force it out of them. It a real fight out there to see who will win. The customer will with their pocket books.

3718.8.2007 6:22

People with dishes will NOT notice any switchover. Only people who watch via antenna will be affected (less than 10%). And yes I care about that 10%, but it's such a SMALL proportion that it will barely be a blip. People who watch using an antenna just need to buy a D-to-A converter, and that's it.

I've already made plans to get mine.

This digital-to-analog switchover is NOT going to have a huge impact (just as the Y2K Switchover was no big deal).

3818.8.2007 10:07
aabbccdd
Inactive

Quote:
People who watch using an antenna just need to buy a D-to-A converter, and that's it.

or buy an HD ready set
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 18 Aug 2007 @ 10:07

3918.8.2007 16:35

I am looking at the Football Game on CBS by off air HD box. I have it in wide screen and on my JVC 32 inch analog TV it is fantastic. I can see the nipples on the cheerleaders. The advertisers are still behind the times on the commercials. The local CBS station is going to go HD this fall in their Studio. Our cable company is struggling on how to convert the digital to analog from the local off air stations. I have reccomended the DigitalStream Tuner like I have. All they have to do is set the switch to 480i and use the widescreen aspect ratio. We have about 8 local stations and it will only cost about $2400 to do this. About half of the local stations here are no where near ready to go digital anyway. They don't have the money unless The FCC gives it to them. It is still going to be about the local stations just like when the dish companys were not using them in the area. The local stations raised enough hell about it and now they have to. It's all about local area advertising especially at night. That is their bread and butter to operate on. Television was and still is free because of it. If everything was commercial free we could not afford it.

4020.8.2007 5:56

>>>I am looking at the Football Game on CBS by off air HD box. I have it in wide screen and on my JVC 32 inch analog TV it is fantastic. I can see the nipples on the cheerleaders.<<<


Yeah watching DTV over an old analog set is equal to DVD quality. That is a major boost in quality all by itself! ----- As for local stations, they don't need to broadcast in HD. They can continue broadcasting using SD-quality, but using the new digital signal (like now), so it's not as if they have to upgrade immediately.

ATSC only mandates digital.
It doesn't mandate it has to be high-def;
standard-def is okay.

4120.8.2007 16:50

With my off air HD capable DTV box here is what I see. Most of the stations that are digital broadcast both the HD and the SD picture. The HD picture is very clear but anything not in widescreen is the square 4:3 picture. The secondary channel with the SD picture is really not as sharp as it is on the cable. The CBS has a second channel that is called my network, the NBC has the weather on theirs and the ABC channel has Primary channel HD and the secondary the SD which is clear but kind of fuzzy. They say they are working on it. The PBS has 3 channels with HD the primary and the secondary whatever is broadcast on the analog transmission. The third is called create and has stuff like this old house. Fox has the HD and the CW channel. I have one Station that has 4 side channels, ION, QUBO,IonLife and Worship. The Worship is mostly music and nice sceneary. I have to say anything in HD widescreen is nice. The advertisers are slowly getting their act together and using the HD widescreen mode. Our local ABC station is having troubles staying on the air lately. They said that they are having to replace some of the orginal DTV equiptment to make it more reliable. I know where their site is and it is not that easy to get to. There was a small forest fire from lightning recently and the building that houses the DT stuff was damaged and was water soaked. Anyway it will all come out in the wash sooner or later.

4225.8.2007 8:06

Each channel has room for just over 19 Megabits per second.

If the channel has been sub-divided into smaller segments, then there's less bits for each segment, and that affects the picture quality. For example your 3-segment PBS channel might look like this:

PBS-1 ==15 Mbps for high-definition
PBS-2 == 2 Mbps for standard-def
PBS-3 == 2 Mbps for standard-def

The 15 Mbps channel would look nice and clear, but the 2 Mbps channels would look fuzzy due to bit starvation. (For comparison standard-def DVDs typically average 6-7 Mbps.)

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 27 Aug 2007 @ 8:09

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