Transition to Digital TV

June 20, 2008 • Volume 18, Issue 23
Are broadcasters and viewers ready for the switch?
By Kenneth Jost

Introduction

All televisions sold in recent years are equipped for the switch to all-digital broadcasting on Feb. 17, 2009.  (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
All televisions sold in recent years are equipped for the switch to all-digital broadcasting on Feb. 17, 2009. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

After years of delays, the nation's full-power television stations are facing a deadline of Feb. 17, 2009, to switch from traditional analog broadcasting to all-digital. Digital TV promises viewers better-quality pictures and sound. The switch also frees up valuable room on the electromagnetic spectrum for wireless communications, including emergency transmissions. Broadcasters will be able to offer more programming and to match the digital signals of subscription cable and satellite services. But viewers with older TV sets and no cable or satellite connection must buy special converter boxes to continue receiving most over-the-air channels after the switch. The government is offering $40 coupons to help viewers pay for the boxes, but many people are still confused. And some stations may have reduced coverage with digital signals. Meanwhile, public-interest groups complain that broadcasters are getting a financial windfall without any new public-interest obligations.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Television
Apr. 11, 2014  Future of TV
Nov. 09, 2012  Indecency on Television
Aug. 27, 2010  Reality TV
Jun. 20, 2008  Transition to Digital TV
Feb. 16, 2007  Television's Future
Mar. 18, 2005  Celebrity Culture
Oct. 29, 1999  Public Broadcasting
Aug. 15, 1997  Children's Television
Dec. 23, 1994  The Future of Television
Mar. 26, 1993  TV Violence
Sep. 18, 1992  Public Broadcasting
Oct. 04, 1991  Pay-Per-View
Feb. 17, 1989  A High-Tech, High-Stakes HDTV Gamble
Dec. 27, 1985  Cable Television Coming of Age
Sep. 07, 1984  New Era in TV Sports
Sep. 24, 1982  Cable TV's Future
Apr. 24, 1981  Public Broadcasting's Uncertain Future
May 09, 1980  Television in the Eighties
Oct. 25, 1972  Public Broadcasting in Britain and America
Mar. 26, 1971  Video Revolution: Cassettes and Recorders
Sep. 09, 1970  Cable Television: The Coming Medium
May 15, 1968  Television and Politics
Mar. 01, 1967  Financing of Educational TV
Dec. 16, 1964  Community Antenna Television
Oct. 21, 1964  Sports on Television
Feb. 28, 1962  Expansion of Educational Television
Aug. 28, 1957  Television in the Schools
Jan. 18, 1957  Movie-TV Competition
Sep. 06, 1955  Television and the 1956 Campaign
May 18, 1954  Educational Television
Sep. 03, 1953  Changing Fortunes of the Movie Business
Apr. 20, 1953  Televising Congress
May 31, 1951  Television in Education
Jan. 26, 1949  Television Boom
Jul. 12, 1944  Television
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Popular Culture
Radio and Television
Regulation and Legal Issues