Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Transitions

If you've been hanging around here for a while, you probably realize that I work in the television industry. There's lots going on as the Digital Transition draws near. No doubt you've seen the television spots advising you of the date (February 17, 2009), how to get a converter box (and the coupons that make them virtually free), that if you already have cable or satellite you already have digital television.

In fact, it has now become ingrained enough that parodies of those spots are popping up all over the place:


This could have been my grandmother.


Some are just plain odd...

Some are for the younger generation...

And now, of course, there are blooper reels for the PSAs!

There are plenty of news stories on local and national news programs... in fact, there are quite a few PROGRAMS devoted to passing along information on the transition, like PBS's GET READY FOR DTV which is showing a lot between now and February 19th.

The FCC has made DTV education a requirement, saying that stations must devote x-amount of airtime to programming and PSAs on this topic - so you'll be seeing these spots for some time to come.

Lots of things are going on in the background too. A couple of weeks ago, my station switched to the new satellite. In a couple more weeks, we will be having our own HD transition, where our sources for much of our standard definition programing will be going away. This means a changing of naming conventions internally, and technical hoops to be jumped through by engineering.

We offer 4 streams of programming from 6am to 6pm, then go to one HD and one SD stream. HD takes up a lot more bandwidth, so we have to lose something else in order to bring you HD. Since we won't be taking away any of our services, all daytime programming will remain SD - children's programming sent to us in HD will be downconverted to SD for air during the day when the other programming streams are active. That means, for us and for lots of other stations, that the notice "In HD where available" at the beginning of some programs, means that the program, if airing during our SD time slots, will actually be broadcast in SD.

That won't be true of every station, but if your station offers more than two streams of video at any given time, it's a good bet you're actually watching standard definition (or downconverted) programming during those times.

Sounds confusing, I know - but most of the public won't have a clue as to how any of this gets to their television. All they have to know is the information contained in the PSAs and TV is theirs for the asking.

In a nutshell:

If you have cable or satellite TV, you don't have to do anything. I mean, you CAN if you want to - it's a great excuse to tell your less-savy spouse that you've got to get a new TV (My mom and dad are now sporting a lovely HD television!), but it really isn't necessary.

If you don't have cable or satellite and are using bunny-ears or an outside antenna, and you wish to continue using the same analog television set, you'll need to get one of those converter boxes. That will be virtually free with the coupons from the government and each household is entitled to two. Or... you could use this as an excuse to buy a NEW TV that has a digital tuner built in. Of course, you'll still need that antenna...

The transition is coming... are you ready?

11 comments:

PinkPiddyPaws said...

I swear, this whole thing reminds me of the Y2K build up -- only it's not the world ending, it's your television going dead.

Of course, with today's "TV is the babysitter" generation, I guess I can see where that might come across as an apocalyptic event. ;)

Sayre said...

I agree. I almost named this DON'T GET YOU KNICKERS IN A TWIST, but that might not be so PC. The truth is, most of the viewing public won't have to do anything at all. It's the few that don't have cable or satellite that need to think about it. You may notice that much of the hype TELLS you that you won't have to do anything.

Television stations, on the other hand, have a lot to do before February. It's gonna be a long winter for some of us.

Anonymous said...

Not only that, but you're putting out that yucky 720 "near-HD" you fraudulent people. Tut tut! 1080-i(orp-p)rules! P.S. After all that, I missed my program Sunday..grrrrrrrrr!

dad

karisma said...

LOL at getting a new TV. My dh already used that excuse a couple of years ago. Norty boy! He even got my dad one of those converter boxes and he also sports a new TV

survivor said...

OMG -from South Jersey -I get one channel (TV 40) and I just got my two coupons for boxes but after the DSL adventure -I am just calling my cousin and crying for help! I feel like that grandmother in your first youtube ad! Cable/satellite/new TV are not in the budget this year -so I blog. My brother gave me a new attenna about 10 years ago but never got the time to visit and climb on my roof. LOL Thanks for the info?

PinkPiddyPaws said...

Oh my gosh -- "Dad" is soooo spoiled now. ha..ha.ha... Him and his monster HD TV. ;)

BeeDancer said...

That first video had me laughing with tears in my eyes & the second one is very strange...

Had to give up on antennas when I lived in Floral City cause there was no antenna reception out there and no cable...It was a dish or nothing...Once I got spoiled with DVR there's no going back

stepping over the junk said...

I wonder what percent uses rabbit ears? I know two people. They watch tv about once a week if even that. A new tv may go against their tv watching belief system. So it makes me wonder, will they go that route or quit altogether?

swampy said...

I remember our first TV...we had two channels: KXII in Ardmore OK/Sherman/Denison TX and KTEN in Ada OK...in order to change channels, and be able to see something besides fuzzy snow, I would go outside and use a pipe wrench to turn the antenna that stood like a giant above our roof until my dad would yell, "Stop !"

Janis said...

Ahhhh the marvels of modern technology. I remember rabbit ears and putting aluminum foil on them to get better reception (it actually worked) At least you got exercise, you had to get up to change the channel. We cant wait to get our 42in HD tv (maybe next year)

That girl said...

Haha...rabbit ears. Memories come flooding back :-)