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Is the US Ready For the Switch To DTV?

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the if-so,-can-the-commercials-stop? dept.

Television 423

tonsofpcs writes "On Monday, September 8, Wilmington, NC will be the first television market (#135) to make the switch to DTV by shutting off their analog transmitters. This forum will be posting updates throughout the coming months to keep everyone updated on how the transition works so that we are all prepared come February 17, 2009. So far, it seems Wilmington will still be going ahead as planned, despite Tropical Storm Hanna's proximity."

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423 comments

I have a feeling (3, Insightful)

bigtallmofo (695287) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909215)

Something tells me that after several delays and numerous announcements that the people that are unaware of the switch to digital TV probably wouldn't be too upset about missing out on TV for a few days while they track down an analog->digital converter.

Re:I have a feeling (5, Interesting)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909705)

Over-the-air DTV works terribly. First off, with analog, I could point my antenna in just about any direction and get SOME kind of fuzzy picture that was watchable. In other words, analog was easier to tune in,

With digital the tuning is much more difficult. I have to align the antenna perfectly along the 55th meridian, check the stars, adjust the horizontal azimuth, and get down on my knees and pray the signal is strong enough to not freeze the video (extremely annoying). And if there's a Tropical Storm blowing by? Forget it. The rain attenuates and destroys the signal. Yesterday I was unable to get my normal programming due to Hanna's presence... just a bunch of pixelated images instead of clear video.

DTV also provides fewer stations than analog.

In the Lancaster PA region analog reception provides these stations: 2,3,6,8,10,11,12,13,15,17,21,27,29,33,35,43,45,48,49,51,57,61,65,69 from various sources like my hometown, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. Switching over to my DTV tuner trims that number down to just a few: 8, 15, 43, 49, 57, 61. Twenty-four downto just six.

Pathetic.

The FCC's discontinuation of analog in favor of digital broadcasting is yet another government-sponsored frakup. Good thing I've learned how to stream TV shows off the net. Thanks to DTV, I no longer can watch ABC or CBS stations. Channels 21 and 27 have disappeared off my DTV dial! What a brilliant job Mr. FCC Engineer. I now have LESS choices to watch, not more. /steps off soapbox

Re:I have a feeling (5, Interesting)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909793)

I'm not sure about the US but as I understand it in the UK many digital transmissions are currently transmitted at reduced power to avoid screwing with analogue reception. Once analogue is switched off digital reception should get a lot better.

Re:I have a feeling (-1, Flamebait)

Safety Cap (253500) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909831)

in the UK many digital transmissions are currently transmitted at reduced power to avoid screwing with analogue reception.
-- Chuck Chunder

Cancer much?

Re:I have a feeling (2, Funny)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909967)

Idiot much?

Re:I have a feeling (4, Informative)

tonsofpcs (687961) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910005)

The US has similar restrictions, however even after the changeover is complete, many stations will still be operating at 1/10 of their original power (or less). You can find information on specific station licenses via FCC's TV Query [fcc.gov]

Re:I have a feeling (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24909839)

DTV also provides fewer stations than analog.

Get a different tuner/antenna.

My experience was quite the opposite. Using my original crappy bunny ears, I was able to receive around 5 channels in analog. Switching to digital brought these fuzzy/static channels to full 1080i. Add in a mid-sized powered antenna, pointed the right way and that number goes up to 32 (counting the spanish and shopping channels).

From the suburbs west of Boston I get: Boston, Providence and Manchester. All in far better quality than analog could have possibly provided.

If you want to blame the FCC for something, blame them for selecting ATSC. Why on earth they chose MPEG2 when everyone else gets MPEG4 or H.264 is anyone's guess (greed from patent holders maybe?).

Re:I have a feeling (1)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910375)

>>>Get a different tuner/antenna.

Lame response. I've already have a CM4228 - best antenna you can buy. Plus I've tried five different brands: Hisense, DTVpal, Zatwell, Zenith, and Channel Master. They all operate roughly the same receiving only 5 or 6 digital stations. That's a far cry from my usual 24 analog. The problem is the DIGITAL TRANSMITTER DESIGN, not the receiving end.

>>>I was able to receive around 5 channels in analog.

I don't believe you; or more accurately, I don't think you really tried. According to tvfool.com, your area will receive approximately 15 stations from Boston, Providence, and Manchester. With a rooftop antenna, you'd get around 20 analog stations same as I do in Lancaster PA.

That same tvfool plot shows your area will only get 10 digital stations, due to low-power restrictions.

Re:I have a feeling (1)

HisMother (413313) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909855)

Ummm, yeah. First, the signal won't be cranked up to full power until the transition. Second, mebbe all them stations aren't transmitting digital yet. I'm not a digital polyanna or anything, but I think your complaining is premature.

Re:I have a feeling (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909865)

Over on the other side of the state, in Pittsburgh, the mountains provide all sorts of issues. It appears that the CBS, Fox, and NBC affiliates all broadcast from the northwestern suburbs, while ABC broadcasts from the east, near Monroeville, and PBS is in Oakland. So, living in Oakland (near Pitt's campus), on the southeastern side of a large hill, and on the southeastern corner of a large apartment building, I can't get NBC, Fox, or CBS at all (although Fox does come up in one of my rooms fairly well, but not uniformly). ABC and PBS come in crystal clear. I can also get the CW over analog, but I haven't even seen them on digital yet (either, they're not broadcasting in digital yet, or I can't pick it up where I'm at).

I'm not complaining too much, though. Most of the time, I get my TV from the internet, via Hulu [hulu.com] , TVU [tvunetworks.com] , or one of the networks' sites directly. I just wish NFL and MLB games were streamed over the internet like they do for the NBA, college basketball, or the olympics. ESPN360 [espn360.com] is pretty good; but they don't do NFL/MLB. But, it wouldn't matter anyway -- I still won't be able to watch Chicago Bears games in Pittsburgh -- I mean, Steelers country,...

Re:I have a feeling (1)

mariushm (1022195) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909923)

It's the TV stations' fault for not giving plenty of power to the transmitters. They're going cheap and giving just enough electricity to the antennas.

UK is *very* different (4, Informative)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909925)

My experience with digital TV in the UK is going from analogue at 4.5 channels (5 was not available in about half the places I went) to digital with far too many to count. The signal strength, picture and sound quality went through the roof with the transition too. Plus, no messing around with tuning at all, it just pulls channels, names and schedules out of the ether.

If your experience is typical, the FCC has managed a frak-up of truly epic proportions.

Of course, with all the new channels there's still nothing on worth watching, but that's a problem with the culture, not the technology.

Re:I have a feeling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24909927)

"DTV also provides fewer stations than analog."

Funny, over here we went from 3 (FTA) analog to 23 (4 FTA, 19 payed) digital channels. Your problem is not with digital TV, it's with the broadcasters.

"With digital the tuning is much more difficult. I have to align the antenna perfectly along the 55th meridian, check the stars, adjust the horizontal azimuth, and get down on my knees and pray the signal...."

It depends on the receiver, my TV only needs a piece of coax to get near 100% SS where an USB tuner only gets 60% signal strength (which is just enough) with an external DVB-T antenna.

Re:I have a feeling (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909931)

It's in the American public's best interest to let corporations buy up the spectrum in order to sell services to us. *cough*

Follow the Money$$$ (1)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910033)

This big push for DTV in the USA, is nothing more than a money grab. I'm on cable, so the switch isn't going to impact me one bit. I'm all for big business, but this one stinks. A. TV manufacturers, who will sell thousands B. Some businesses who want that bank of frequencies such as wireless phone companies. C. The federal government, who will rake in the $$$ when they sell off the old analog(e) frequencies.

Re:I have a feeling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24910109)

I get 2 analog channels but 7 DTV

Re:I have a feeling (1)

frieko (855745) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910135)

I've had the exact opposite experience. I got six analog channels from one city and I get 16 digital ones from three cities. I'm about 40 miles from the closest tower. The point being that yes, it did screw over a lot of people but probably a small fraction in the grand scheme of things. Also, digital signals interfere with the analog ones, so you may see a big boost in power come January.

There's a few things you may want to check with your setup. First, you need a 'recent' converter box. The chipsets improved a LOT over the years. Second, upgrade your RG59 to RG6. Third, if you're lucky like me then all your digital channels are at channel 14 and up (the REAL channel not the one the box tells you) - I was able to cut down most of my giant VHF antenna and raise the remaining tiny UHF part up another 10 feet. ...Oh, and there's one of those radioshack boosters in there somewhere, but the same old one from the analog days.

This being Slashdot there's a good chance I'm preaching to the choir. But try a little fungineering and you might have a better experience. That or get DirecTV ;)

Depends on where you are... (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910141)

While I can't speak to your situation, overall, I have found over-the-air DTV to be a vast improvement over analog. This is in the San Jose area. The existing analog broadcasts are hopeless due to massive multipath problems (same with FM radio). DTV, including HD, is pretty bulletproof. You have to turn the antenna for a few stations but that's no different than what was going on with analog. Once you get it, it's perfect.

          In your particular case, it doesn't seem to work very well, but I don't think that has a lot to do with digital vs. analog per se. Your local stations have had 60 years to get the analog stuff right, and 6 months to get digital right.

            Brett

Re:I have a feeling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24910149)

Um, just because you currently can get only 6 digital channels does not negate the fact that you can fit more than one digital channel in the same range as one analog channel.

I do agree with you that it's a shitload more difficult to get a watchable picture on digital than it is on analog though. :(

Re:I have a feeling (1)

the plant doctor (842044) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910157)

Over-the-air DTV works terribly. First off, with analog, I could point my antenna in just about any direction and get SOME kind of fuzzy picture that was watchable. In other words, analog was easier to tune in,

With digital the tuning is much more difficult. I have to align the antenna perfectly along the 55th meridian, check the stars, adjust the horizontal azimuth, and get down on my knees and pray the signal is strong enough to not freeze the video (extremely annoying). And if there's a Tropical Storm blowing by? Forget it. The rain attenuates and destroys the signal. Yesterday I was unable to get my normal programming due to Hanna's presence... just a bunch of pixelated images instead of clear video.

DTV also provides fewer stations than analog.

In the Lancaster PA region analog reception provides these stations: 2,3,6,8,10,11,12,13,15,17,21,27,29,33,35,43,45,48,49,51,57,61,65,69 from various sources like my hometown, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. Switching over to my DTV tuner trims that number down to just a few: 8, 15, 43, 49, 57, 61. Twenty-four downto just six.

Pathetic.

The FCC's discontinuation of analog in favor of digital broadcasting is yet another government-sponsored frakup. Good thing I've learned how to stream TV shows off the net. Thanks to DTV, I no longer can watch ABC or CBS stations. Channels 21 and 27 have disappeared off my DTV dial! What a brilliant job Mr. FCC Engineer. I now have LESS choices to watch, not more. /steps off soapbox

How is this interesting? It's not even accurate for everyone.

I get more digital channels with digital TV than I do with analog. Some are duplicates of the analog but I get three PBS channels and two unique sub-channels from our local CBS and NBC associates.

With analog I get 11, 13, 27, 49.

With digital I get 11.1, 11.2, 11.3, 13.1, 13.2, 27.1, 27.2, 49.1, and 49.2. According to my math, that's more channels, not less. Not to mention I didn't have to do anything with my outdoor antenna. So I would have to argue that it depends on the location. It isn't like this for everyone out there.

Re:I have a feeling (1)

DrBuzzo (913503) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910373)

What kind of antenna do you have? If you can get the analog channels then it means you are within the area to receive the digital channels because you have line-of-site to the transmitter. However, it sounds like the signal is just so weak that it is not able to be picked up properly with your digital tuner.

Do you have just rabbit ears? If so you really can't expect much from that. You need at least descent omni antenna, preferably outdoors, but if you can't do that then just a good antenna mounted high up like in an attic will work better than just the simple antenna on the TV. Since you apparently have some signal, a preamp will likely help a real lot too. Just don't expect a preamp to be able to work any kind of magic if you don't have a signal to begin with.

Anyways, I have a high gain directional UHF antenna and I can easily pull in numerous DTV signals, some from as far away as New York City, which is about 80 miles from me.

The ATSC system is far from perfect and I'm not sure in hindsight the modulation and the format was really the best, but it beats the pants off of analog any day. If you can barely receive a station why would you even want to watch it through the snow on the TV? That's so damn annoying - at least to me.

Re:I have a feeling (2, Informative)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909771)

Something tells me that after several delays and numerous announcements that the people that are unaware of the switch to digital TV probably wouldn't be too upset about missing out on TV for a few days while they track down an analog->digital converter.

Greetings, visitor - you picked a windy day to visit our strange planet.

Seriously, some people will start screaming when the glass nipple is wrenched from their lips, and "didn't you see all the announcements?" just ain't gonna cut it.

The UK is just embarking on the same experiment and its pretty clear that a lot of people (a) rank this as equivalent to having their water or electricity cut off, (b) are "confused" by the announcements and expect the man from the gubment to turn up and fix it for them and (c) resent the idea of having to shell out £25 for each telly.

To be fair - there are some complicating factors (at least in the UK version):

  1. The decoder boxes are cheap, but to get terrestrial digital in some areas you need an aerial upgrade, which is somewhat more expensive.
  2. Some areas can't get digital at all - theoretically, once the digital transmissions don't have to co-exist with analogue they will crank up the power somewhat - except I'm not sure how that squares with plans to sell off the spectrum for loadsamoney.
  3. People may not have got the message that you need an adaptor for every TV in the house - and dealing with VCRs is a headache. Cleverly, shops have continued selling analogue-only TVs, VCRs and even DVD/HD recorders without clear labels saying Don't buy this, you moron!

Re:I have a feeling (1)

Capt. Skinny (969540) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910281)

...dealing with VCRs is a headache

VC-whats?

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24909231)

It seems odd that they are not going to wait out the storm.

Are prisons ready for the switch? (2, Interesting)

Nymz (905908) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909233)

Re:Are prisons ready for the switch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24910155)

Who the hell cares if they are? Prisoners, who are in PRISON due to a serious crime they committed should not be able to have free cable on my tax dollars. Let them sit in their cell staring at the wall pining over what they have done wrong with their lives.

Re:Are prisons ready for the switch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24910341)

Who the hell cares if they are? Prisoners, who are in PRISON due to a serious crime they committed should not be able to have free cable on my tax dollars. Let them sit in their cell staring at the wall pining over what they have done wrong with their lives.

Hey numbnuts, I dislike prisoners as much as you, but the upcoming change is the end of FREE ANALOG TV. If a prison has cable TV they are completely unaffected.

And if you care about your tax dollars, be sure to include in your budget the cost of many prison riots when the prisoners get cut off from TV.

Despite Tropical Storm Hanna? (0)

Kuroji (990107) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909261)

This is going to happen in February, why on earth should a tropical storm delay it if it's still September? For that matter, why would it be delayed at all? Is there something mystical and magical about tropical storms that we don't know here?

Re:Despite Tropical Storm Hanna? (4, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909373)

This is going to happen in February, why on earth should a tropical storm delay it if it's still September? For that matter, why would it be delayed at all? Is there something mystical and magical about tropical storms that we don't know here?

The use of TV as a warning mechanism for evacuations / seeking shelter. If you turn that off fro those still on analog you've added to the complexity of an evacuation.

Re:Despite Tropical Storm Hanna? (1)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909515)

If you're getting a TV signal, you're going to get the EBS signal.
If you're getting a radio signal, you're going to get the EBS signal.

-regardless if it's digital or analog.

Re:Despite Tropical Storm Hanna? (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909687)

If you're getting a TV signal, you're going to get the EBS signal.
If you're getting a radio signal, you're going to get the EBS signal.

-regardless if it's digital or analog.

Couple of things - TV is used for more than just EBS; for exmaple warning scrolls across regular programing.

So once analog goes off air those with analog only TVs pulling in a signal from local broadcast lose that information source. To your point - they are no longer getting a signal.

Even if EBS is still transmitting an analog signal (will it?) many people will probably have their TV off since tehy aren't getting programming and not get a warning at all.

As fro radio, it'd be nice if everyone had a working radio and maybe even a weather alert radio; but they are a less effective means of providing updates and warnings since they have to stop broadcasting to send updates; unlike a continuous scroll.

Re:Despite Tropical Storm Hanna? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24909981)

If you live near the coast, you have a weather radio. If you live in tornado alley, you have a weather radio. Most of them that have been made in the past 10 years or so have the EAS alert alarm.

If you don't, well, then maybe Darwin was on to something.

Re:Despite Tropical Storm Hanna? (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910361)

If you live near the coast, you have a weather radio. If you live in tornado alley, you have a weather radio. Most of them that have been made in the past 10 years or so have the EAS alert alarm.

If you don't, well, then maybe Darwin was on to something.

Yes, and after getting far too high a ratio of real to bogus warnings (even with localization); your first reaction is to turn on the TV and then go up to the radio and turn off the warning beep.

Re:Despite Tropical Storm Hanna? (2, Informative)

tonsofpcs (687961) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910067)

Even if EBS is still transmitting an analog signal (will it?) many people will probably have their TV off since tehy aren't getting programming and not get a warning at all.

EAS will still be analog as most stations receive it from radio stations. EAS is relayed by the TV station though, which will not be broadcasting analog, so there will be no way to receive it on an analog set (unless a local LPTV station is still operating in analog, as they are exempt from the changeover for now).

As fro radio, it'd be nice if everyone had a working radio and maybe even a weather alert radio; but they are a less effective means of providing updates and warnings since they have to stop broadcasting to send updates; unlike a continuous scroll.

EAS requires an audio interruption of programming, both on TV and radio. Crawls without audio do not meet EAS requirements. Some stations will continue crawls of information that is not required to be relayed via EAS, but this is as a service to the public (and in order to tell the FCC "hey, we meet our public service requirements" next time the license is up for renewal).

Re:Despite Tropical Storm Hanna? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24909689)

EBS hasn't existed in years, it has been EAS since 1994. Also, if you're getting an *analog TV* signal with an analog receiver, you're going to get the *analog TV* EAS alert. If you're getting a *digital TV* signal with a DTV receiver, you're going to get the *digital TV* EAS alert. If you're getting a DTV signal but have an analog TV receiver, you're not going to know anything.

Re:Despite Tropical Storm Hanna? (3, Interesting)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910055)

Well for one, it would be nice to see those red boxes when the weather man goes "there is a tornado warning for the communities within blah blah blah..."

EBS isn't worth a shit. All it does is replay a canned warning message with the counties under the warning, and at the end of the message it says tune to your local channels for more information...

What irritates me about the switch (which I still see as completely without merit - unless you are a telecommunications company or a DTV manufacturer), is the fact that they keep saying "If you have cable or satellite, you need not to worry about the conversion. Only people who uses traditional off-the-air television have to make the switch". Even worse is when your local cable company advertises that to avoid the switch just get cable...

Problem being that when the cable goes out (and it does during a hurricane) you are screwed and must resort to listening to the weatherman on the radio who continues to say "if you look in this area of the screen..."

Re:Despite Tropical Storm Hanna? (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909641)

WARNING - WARNING - WARNING - A tropical storm - shhhhhhhhhhhht - To view this warning announcement, please purchase a digital TV in your local retail store.

Thank you.

Re:Despite Tropical Storm Hanna? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24909733)

Poor people cannot afford expensive censorware and propaganda machines like 'DTV'. Poor people cannot afford the monthly required charges for the enforced use of 'pay TV' that digital coercion brings. Poor people will not want to throw out their televisions that can be used for many things and often have other devices that use them like console games, etc. For most poor people, television is their only entertainment besides bars, sitting on porches, getting sot drunk, etc. Hey! television is the modern opiate of the great masses of society. To force them today to use a box that can in the future implement censorship, propaganda, and also force them to route their telephones through it to enforce spying is a great crime. More than that, many folks will just stop using television. Riots in the summertime will probably be MUCH more fun to them. And the long suffering real American taxpayers will pay the bill in lives and property lost while profiteering 'intellectual property' monopolist hogs slosh at the public trough.

Re:Despite Tropical Storm Hanna? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24909819)

Well if the folks that remain analog despite all the warnings also tend to heed warnings like the folks in New Orleans did for Katrina... Well there shouldn't be as many to evacuate the second time.

Re:Despite Tropical Storm Hanna? (2, Informative)

Xylaan (795464) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909375)

Monday, September 8, Wilmington, NC will be the first television market (#135) to make the switch to DTV by shutting off their analog transmitters.

Re:Despite Tropical Storm Hanna? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24909389)

Is there something mystical and magical about tropical storms that we don't know here?

No - it's just the same old distraction tactic in a new guise. Just like "won't somebody please think of the /children/!", it's really just an attempt of connecting something you're railing against (the DTV switch) to something people will generally agree is unpleasant (tropical storms, damage to children).

Re:Despite Tropical Storm Hanna? (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909405)

At least read the WHOLE summary.

Re:Despite Tropical Storm Hanna? (1)

Awptimus Prime (695459) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909415)

I think someone was trying to be witty in a headline. It does appear to rank pretty high in the FAIL department.

Yes. (2, Funny)

BitterOldGUy (1330491) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909423)

Is there something mystical and magical about tropical storms that we don't know here?

Yes. It adds drama! Just image some bold brave techs driving through the rain and wind in order to get DTV to the people!

Read with one of those voice actors saying this in your head.

The struggle. The bravery. The challenges!

Men and women fighting so that their neighbours can stay informed! Keeping them from being cut off from the rest of the World all the while batting Nature's worst! With the bonds that form between people who have gone through hell together!

Mat Damon is .... THE DIGITAL TECH!

Re:Despite Tropical Storm Hanna? (1)

Sethumme (1313479) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909531)

Why is this rated Insightful? It's a question that is explained within TFS/A.

Or is it just that any inquiry posed has an inherent element of insightfulness?

Re:Despite Tropical Storm Hanna? (1)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909603)

>>>This is going to happen in February, why on earth should a tropical storm delay it if it's still September?

Ya know, it helps to RTFA (read the frakkin' article). In the very first sentence, it states that Wilmington NC (which was hit by the TS Hanna), will be going 100% digital on Monday (i.e. tomorrow). No more analog.

So you see, the transition for Wilmington is NOt February. It's September 8.

Unusually boring... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24909383)

...and astonishingly Yankee-centric, even by Slashdot standards.

Do you know why Wilmington, North Carolina is going to be the first to turn off analogue broadcasting? Because there's nothing interesting there, ever, and they need something to put on tourist literature in 50 years time, other than a racist massacre in 1898.

It's like Delaware, the first state. Or Whitehaven, Cumbria, the first place to turn off analogue in the UK. Do you care about that? I don't. I doubt anyone outside Whitehaven does.

If you cable you may need a box on satellite you a (0)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909429)

If you cable you may need a box to get most channels soon on satellite you are ok and 100% digital right now.

Analog migration (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909487)

I don't understand your grammar. Are you referring to the issue of analog migration for cable television?

[Where certain cable TV providers slowly move the analog channels to digital on their system, thus requiring a "box" if they want to view those "upper" channels.]

Re:If you cable you may need a box on satellite yo (1)

tonsofpcs (687961) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909537)

Actually, DBS services (like DirecTV) are only offering local channel service to some of the 210 markets, despite promising that they would have all 210 covered by year end. Some markets will require customers to have two dishes pointed different directions (one for local channels, one for the rest); other markets require just a newer box; others are available with the base setup; and that's just for the ones that are "available via DBS", the ones that aren't 'ready' will need an antenna for local channels and a converter box.

As for cable, cable companies will have to convert any received signals (be it by antenna, satellite receiver, or direct link with the programming source) to match their system. Currently, many cable companies are converting digital SD broadcasts to analog. Remember, cable companies have contracts (franchise agreements) with the towns that they offer service in that tend to have many more requirements than DBS, along with requirements from federal regulations.

Re:If you cable you may need a box on satellite yo (2, Interesting)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909735)

I just tell people:

"If you have cable, dish, or FiOS television, then you need not worry about the over-the-air transition. It does not affect you."

Re:If you cable you may need a box on satellite yo (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910181)

"If you have cable, dish, or FiOS television, then you need not worry about the over-the-air transition. It does not affect you."

Unless of course when your service goes out. You should ALWAYS have a way to receive over-the-air signals. This way when the cable, FIOS, or whatever is your favorite way to pay for programming goes offline (and it does during a hurricane, flood, and severe thunderstorms) you are still able to receive important information.

Nothing sucks like having your generator running and not having a clue because you depended on cable to look after you...

Besides all you are doing is encouraging "lock-in". The cable companies would love to be the sole provider of broadcast content.

Stop giving that shitty advice, and tell your friends to get a converter box while they can still get a discount on them.

Re:If you cable you may need a box on satellite yo (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909629)

Yup comcast has been airing blatent lies about the DTV switch... "we got you covered" yup they are switching to all Digital across the nation next year forcing everyone to have a converter box (that you have to rent from them at $5.00 a month) and it will make all those pesky PVR's out there stop working unless they take over that digital box or get another digital box for the PVR at another $5.00 a month)

Re:If you cable you may need a box on satellite yo (1)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909795)

They have to have an unencrypted QAM Teir by law. I have Comcast, and There are 39 availible unencrypted QAM channels. (Only 14 are unique.)

Re:If you cable you may need a box on satellite yo (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910165)

I've been wondering if that would violate their franchise agreement?* Also I wonder if cable has to carry the subchannels along with the main channel?

*You know? The local channels they presently have to carry.

Re:If you cable you may need a box on satellite yo (1)

iansocool (1356629) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910075)

I have RCN for my cable TV provider. I had 1 cable box and received cable on my other 2 TVs directly with the cable (no set-top box).

Recently I received a mailing from RCN showcasing their new channel lineup and mentioning one line "We're Going Digital."

The next day my two TV's without the set-top box stopped working.

I was kind of annoyed, but upon calling them, I found out they'd be stationed around the area giving out set-top boxes to their customers.

Plus, they gave me a free hat.

Basically, it's up to the cable service provider. The DTV transition is about over-the-air broadcasts, but that doesn't mean your cable company will continue providing analog channels.

Short Answer (0, Troll)

Steneub (1070216) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909451)

No.

People don't like change, and especially when they have to take action themselves. Come February, a very large number of slackers will wonder why their TVs don't work. Call me a troll, but it will be mostly inner-city welfare-check-receiving families.

Re:Short Answer (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24909525)

It has nothing to do with being a troll... you simply have no basis for that assumption. Bigotry at it's best.

Re:Short Answer (3, Insightful)

Sleepy (4551) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909845)

It is not called trolling; it is called elitism. ... and it is wrong. Your "demographic" probably leaves out the majority of those affected, those who shop at Walmart and purchased Chinese-made NTSC sets. Walmart got slapped a few times in the recent past for selling non-DTV capable sets - we're talking months ago.

See? It's possible to introduce a demographic you're not a part of, without a snide twist of the knife. All seriousness aside, there's plenty of bad stereotypes that could be made with the Walmart crowd (meth and prescription addiction anyone?). (I suppose even acknowledging the possibility of this counter stereotype is the same as saying it, but I'm trying to draw a distinction).

Good luck with your views

Re:Short Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24910357)

Mod parent up.

I've had cable for almost 30 years (0)

Tyrannicalposter (1347903) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909491)

I've had cable for almost 30 years. They could shut off all broadcast TV as far as I care. I can't beleive anyone still watches over the air broadcasts, even the poor.

Re:I've had cable for almost 30 years (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909529)

Imagine this...

A storm comes in. And storms can happen in a variety of areas.
Storm knocks out cable lines. Maybe a tree falls on it.
Residents wish to remain informed.
So they either hook up an antenna to their TV, or pull out a small one, to watch an over-the-air broadcast of their local news.

Re:I've had cable for almost 30 years (5, Funny)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909571)

I've had cable for almost 30 years. They could shut off all broadcast TV as far as I care

Phew, on behalf of all Slashdot readers who were fraught with worry over how this would effect you, thanks for letting us know we can sleep easy.

Re:I've had cable for almost 30 years (1, Interesting)

jabberw0k (62554) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909633)

I am 42, had a computer since '77 but never had cable. My parents are in their 80s and never had cable.

I can't believe anyone would pay $500 or $1000 a year to watch television. Put it another way, cut the Pay TV bill and in twenty years you get a free car!

Mom and dad bought a digital decoder box but it's a huge pain with yet another remote control and umpteen volume controls that all fight each other. What a pointless disaster.

Re:I've had cable for almost 30 years (1)

bcwright (871193) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909751)

Pffft. I'm hardly poor, and I've never had cable. For the few hours of TV I watch per month (mostly news broadcasts), it's hardly worth it to pay for the privilege. Yeah, I'm tight. One woman who used to work with me after hearing about something like that once said, "You must really be Scottish." Yeah, I probably resemble that remark too.

Re:I've had cable for almost 30 years (1)

kilodelta (843627) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909807)

My provider, Cox is already sending out flyers telling people that if they just leave the sets connected to cable they don't have to buy converters or DTV sets.

I have no motivation to move fast on the DTV transition since I don't watch much television in the first place. Or at least not broadcast or what comes over the cable.

I only get a net connection from the cable company, not a video feed. And all the computers in the house are at least 720p so I'm not worried.

Re:I've had cable for almost 30 years (0)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909815)

>>>They could shut off all broadcast TV as far as I care. I can't beleive anyone still watches over the air broadcasts

Thanks for insulting me and other over-the-air folks.

But that's okay. I can't believe some people are foolish enough to pay ~$700 a year for NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, CW, Ion, and MyNetworkTV programming, when they could get those same programs totally free. And even if you are a fan of cable-exclusive shows like Monk or the Shield (like I am), you can still watch those shows, for free, online or in reruns. So it seems rather foolish to pay $700 for them.

>>>even the poor.

I guess the poor think it's more important to invest their $700 a year on FOOD. Gee. What a shocker. I guess people would rather EAT AND LIVE rather than watch the MTV or Disney. Who'da thunk? /end sarcasm

There's a change? (2, Funny)

Vertana (1094987) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909497)

I doubt most people are even going to notice the switch over to digital. Between cable and satellite providers relatively few are going to see the need for a digital-analog converter. On another note... Wilmington just wanted to put a simple "We did it first so we're 'technologically advanced'" stamp on a tourist brochure. Whatever and good luck to 'em (I guess).

PBS subchannels (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909535)

Between cable and satellite providers relatively few are going to see the need for a digital-analog converter.

There are some channels that one can get on digital broadcast but not on analog cable, such as the PBS subchannels. The ATSC tuner box also costs much less ($20 after coupon) than the first three years of the upgrade from analog cable to digital cable ($359.64) or the upgrade from satellite TV without local networks to satellite TV with local networks.

There's consequences? (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909559)

That's one way to look at it. The other is "we're biting the bullet first. Let's hope nothing bad happens.".

Re:There's a change? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24909583)

I've had cable, had satellite. Finally dumped both for a Tivo box and an attic mounted antenna.

The HD picture quality of an OTA digital signal makes cable and satellite look like, well, bad..

One of my cable fanboi friends was over the other night and was speechless at the PQ of OTA digital TV.

Don't knock it until you try it.

Re:There's a change? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909661)

I had a buddy of mine claim up and down that comcast did not compress the OTA HD channels. so I pulled a firewire stream into my PC from my tuner box and had him do the same at the same time from his cable box.

My OTA recording of the TS had far fewer artifacts and overall looked better on his TV set. If I had mpeg2TS analysis tools I'd bet that mine had a higher bitrate oming from OTA.

Re:There's a change? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24910265)

I had a buddy of mine claim up and down that comcast did not compress the OTA HD channels.

From what I've heard, they don't, because it's against the law. It sounds like you did a good test, but I suspect something else is going on. They do compress the hell out of non-OTA channels (scifi, etc), which I hear look much better on analog.

Re:There's a change? (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910379)

From what I've heard, they don't, because it's against the law. It sounds like you did a good test, but I suspect something else is going on. They do compress the hell out of non-OTA channels (scifi, etc), which I hear look much better on analog.

There is no such law. Cable companies might or might not reduce the bitrate of OTA channels.

It might get delayed afterall (1)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909573)

According to the LA Times [latimes.com] , the conversion might be postponed due to the storm.

Re:It might get delayed afterall (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24910239)

That article is from before the decision was reached, the FCC has decided not to postpone, hence TFA.

Without regard to the HYPE (0, Troll)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909585)

The public safety factor is one concern.

The other concern is the technical one.
As people age, our hearing and eyesight deteriorate.

All this High Def stuff will look EXACTLY like analog
to us.

It is a industry subsidized by the government. I say boycott
all TV until common sense prevails.

Re:Without regard to the HYPE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24909607)

I saw the Internet is interactive television. Boycott the Internet. Boycott this post!

Subchannels (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909649)

As people age, our hearing and eyesight deteriorate. All this High Def stuff will look EXACTLY like analog to us.

Which is why a lot of ATSC broadcasters can choose to broadcast four subchannels: one in 1080i for the younger set and three others in 480i, including programs targeted to older people.

Re:Without regard to the HYPE (1)

dotfile (536191) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910327)

Doesn't matter what hi-def looks like to anyone using a converter box on an analog TV, of course, since they'll be watching it in standard def.

reminders for DTV conversion vs Register to Vote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24909593)

Reminders per WEEK from tv news stations about DTV conversion in 2009: > 100 per week

Reminders to register to vote (deadline in a few weeks): about 3 per week

So glad we have our priorities in place in this country.

How many will drop TV alltogether? (1)

JewGold (924683) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909613)

I wonder how many people who only watch broadcast TV casually now will put off buying the box, and realize they really don't even miss TV?

Re:How many will drop TV alltogether? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910017)

7. I am quite sure of this.

WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24909617)

People still watch TV? why? use the internets.

Re:WTF? (1, Troll)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909739)

People still watch TV? why? use the internets.

I cant you're clogging up the tubes.

Re:WTF? (1)

cryptodan (1098165) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909999)

People still watch TV? why? use the internets.

I dont like having to sit infront of my computer to watch TV shows I can watch comfortably from my couch infront of my 40" TV. I prefer having a TV then having to deal with crappy encoded streams on the internet and the buffering that is common with such things. I get no buffering with my cable box and my TV.

Will they broadcast a notice? (4, Insightful)

bigtallmofo (695287) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909623)

How hard would it be to broadcast on all common channels in the area a fixed pattern that says something along the lines of, "TV broadcasts using your current equipment are no longer available. Please conatct... blah blah blah".

Seems that would be better than just turning it off. Maybe just run it for a week or so.

Re:Will they broadcast a notice? (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910057)

They have been broadcasting notices here for the past, oh, I don't know, several months.

Prisons not ready (4, Interesting)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909745)

Numerous stories [google.com] mention that prisons are not ready for digital television, and prison administrators are worried.

Generally, inmates pay for their own television sets and (for some reason that escapes me) are not eligible for the $40 coupons.

Prison administrators say [tennessean.com] "the tube does more than fill year after year of idle hours. It provides a sense of normalcy and is a bargaining chip that encourages good behavior... At Indiana's Wabash Valley super-maximum security prison [a psychiatrist said], far fewer behavior problems were reported among inmates in isolation after they were given small TVs. 'You don't want to be managing prisoners who have nothing to lose,' Kupers."

I expect the test will show that, in fact, prison inmates represent only one example of what will prove to be a large population of forgotten Americans... the people who don't answer telephone surveys because they don't have telephones, the people who don't shop at Best Buy because they don't have cars and the nearest Best Buy can't be reached by public transportation, etc.

I will grant that the amount of publicity being given to the DTV switchover on our local TV stations is so large... at least during the times of day we watch and on the channels we watch... that it's hard to imagine people not knowing about it, but there is always that twenty percent of the population who can't name the President.

Indeed, I'm astonished at the poster who asks "Will they broadcast a notice?" since our local stations have been doing that continuously since February. Either his are not or he, like those twenty per cent I'm talking about, didn't notice.

Who escaped? (1)

Yogler (984129) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910247)

Generally, inmates pay for their own television sets and (for some reason that escapes me) are not eligible for the $40 coupons.

No pun intended? :P

recession (4, Insightful)

gbh1935 (987266) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909761)

House in foreclosure CHECK Credit Cards past due CHECK Car Repossessed CHECK TV ready for Digital....not a priority

Will the American South Descend into Urban Terror? (0, Offtopic)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909765)

This is for all the people out there who have played Urban Terror. I wonder if the south will turn into the guys in Red Smocks (oe in the case of southerners, gray smocks) vs. The guys in Blue smocks as all those rednecks come out of the Appalachian mountains that "The Commies took muh TV!"

Another nail in the coffin of the TV industry (1)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909797)

The average age of TV viewers was recently reported as 55 years old. That means the average television audience is 10 years older than the demographic that advertisers pay top dollar to reach, 18-45. That higher average age also means that most of those watching are the least likely to be paying attention to esoteric issues like format changes. Many of them will be quite upset when their TV stops working, especially with a 30% increase in the price of groceries and $4/gallon gas happening at the same time.

So the TV industry heads are going to alienate a significant chunk of the last group of people who still tune in to their programs.

Aging demos, TiVo, writer's strikes, death of the upfront season, competition from other media, and ill-timed format changes are all going to bring the television industry down.

How will the FCC find the "forgotten people?" (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909821)

It occurs to me that if there are "forgotten" segments of the population (e.g. prisoners) who've escaped official notice in the preparation for the switch, and haven't been reached by the numerous public announcements, or can't or don't know how to prepare for it... ...how is the FCC going to find out whether they've been affected?

The same factors that have caused them to be overlooked before the test may cause them to be overlooked in evaluating the results of the test.

The people who have a phone and know how to call the FCC are the same people who won't need to--because they heard the announcements, got their coupons, and bought their boxes at Wal*Mart.

More $$$ for Hollywood (-1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#24909871)

No, we're not ready. The public has already spent hundreds of $millions ($billions, if you include spectrum giveaways to incumbents, or just locking out new competition with high prices and anticompetitive rules) in government subsidies to this extremely rich and powerful TV industry.

So we should of course spend even more of the public's money on this industry that works furiously, tirelessly, constantly, to lie to us and corrupt us.

Already switched. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24909883)

What's the big deal? I already switched, and it wasn't bad at all. I get to watch entire banks of channels dropping off and coming back as our post-Gustav power outages continue. :)

I'm glad my family is intelligent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24909889)

Everyone in my family who does not use cable and still has analog TVs, has already signed up for, received their coupons, and purchased their converter boxes. All on their own volition. They heard the messages about it on TV and heeded the warning. They are all happily digital and enjoying it.

Of course, I come from a family where everyone is thoughtful and organized. They are fully able to hear and heed a warning without having someone spoonfeed the solution to them.

moD 0p (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24910037)

It a Break, if

People still watch TV? (0, Flamebait)

DogDude (805747) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910073)

I find it amazing that people still watch TV. I don't know anybody other than my parents who still watch TV.

Depends on what you mean by ready (1)

ccguy (1116865) | more than 5 years ago | (#24910179)

If ready means that everyone has at least one digital receiver (built-in or external) then no. People tend to delay non essential purchases these days, and a digital receiver won't be essential until the analog shutdown actually takes place.

So just do it already, people will run to get get the decoders the next day.
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