From the Mailbag: Questions about Digital TV
Q: I first want to commend you and WKYC for informing the public about HDTV and the changes in television that we are going through over the past months. I have some questions about how the switch to digital will affect WKYC and other television stations. Will the digital signal be any clearer/stronger when the analog signal is finished? Will it cost the station any less to broadcast digitally? What will you do with your analog transmitter? And with the recent rule change by the FCC, do you think any stations in the Cleveland/Akron area will drop their analog transmissions in 2008?
A: Thanks for your letter. I'm glad the information has been helpful to you.
Let's take a look at each of your questions - First, digital definitely offers better picture quality because the resolution is much higher than analog tv. Plus, most people forget about the audio. With digital, we can offer superior 5.1 (or higher) surround sound which is another attractive feature to many TV users.
Secondly, the problem with digital vs. analog for people who live on the fringe coverage area is this... If the signal becomes too weak, the pictures disappears. The TV either receives the signal or it doesn't. There is no in between since the signal is bunch 1's and O's being broadcast. With analog, the weaker signal could be fuzzy and still viewable. This is how you can sometimes view distant stations outside the market. That won't be the case with digital.
Third, I'm not really sure there will be any cost savings by going digital for stations. There is a lot of upfront cost to build the digital facilities, but afterwards - we still have costs involved with transmitting our signal. And let's say there will be a lot of analog transmitters heading for the junkyard. Though, low power TV stations aren't being required to switch from analog to digital. So, some of the transmitters may be bought by them or sold overseas.
Finally, I highly doubt any local station will stop broadcasting their analog signal until forced to on February 17, 2009 in the Cleveland/Akron market. Roughly 20% of the TV audience still gets their signals "over the air." With such a competitive environment for TV viewers, I doubt any station will want to lose ANY viewer before then.
You can email your questions to me: firstname.lastname@example.org