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-   -   FCC Issues Rules For 2009 Digital TV Broadcasts ( 09-13-2007 07:16 PM

FCC Issues Rules For 2009 Digital TV Broadcasts
The Federal Communications Commission has issued new rules for the 2009 Digital Broadcast Switchover. This latest regulation change insures that cable subscribers will still be able to watch standard broadcast programming after the transition until the year 2012, even if they donít yet own a digital TV.

Beginning February 18, 2009, broadcast networks will stop transmitting the standard analog signals to over-the-air viewers and cable companies. Cable companies will need to convert the digital signal to analog at the source or supply their customers with a "down converter" unit. However, small cable companies will be able to request a waiver.

The extension of the availability of analog broadcast signals through cable companies to 2012 was put in place because the FCC is concerned that approximately 40 million U.S. households are still analog-only subscribers. This appears to be a generous extension as the majority of households now use digital cable or a satellite signal and have migrated to digital televisions, many of which are high-def.

For those who think this regulation change is good for the environment, as it will keep millions of obsolete analog TVs from filling up our landfills on February 19, 2009 think again. In reality this extension will give more people a reason to not yet upgrade to a digital set, and then when the extension runs out in 2012, there will be even more unusable analog TVs in U.S. households to dump into the trash.

Source: CNN, AP Newswire

DaveC 09-14-2007 04:14 AM

Re: FCC Issues Rules For 2009 Digital TV Broadcasts
If only things were that "easy" (which they won't be for cable companies).

Two issues to note:

Cable companies who have already converted to all-digital, will not have to re-establish analog versions of the off-air channels. Presumably, this is because residents in the areas of those cable companies are already dealing with an all digital signal somehow.

Depending on the format in which the broadcaster sends their Digital over-the-air signal, there are issues as to the conversion process and whether it constitutes changing the content, which most retransmission contracts prohibit. For example, if the broadcasters DTV signal is 16:9, how will the cable company modify it to fit the 4:3 analog format?

Using one of the FCC Commissioners own words, there is a tsunami looming in February 2009 for consumers!

tigeraudio2007 09-14-2007 01:05 PM

Re: FCC Issues Rules For 2009 Digital TV Broadcasts
To the contrary:

Issue 1) All, but minor cable companies, will have to be able to offer analog broadcasts through 2012. This will not be difficult as cable companies have been preparing for this changover for sometime now. Digital Cable providers are installing receivers that have built in converters in them. The same goes for satellite receivers. Most can still output coaxial analog or at the very least through composite. So yes, cable subscribers are already dealing with digital signals. Either their cable box is converting the digital signal into analog for their output needs, or the subscribers are using the HDMI/Component outputs to their receiver or HDTV.

Issue 2) Don't get Digital OTA signal confused with the cable companies. Cable companies receive their broadcasts from the networks. Individual residents can use OTA antennas connected to their ATSC tuners in their HDTV. As for modifying aspect ratios, this is really simple. Cable boxes already have this "function" built-in. For example, you are playing a widescreen HD cable signal through your cable box and have that output to your HDTV. At the same time your have the coaxial out of your cable box connected to your other TV, a old CRT monitor, through it's coaxial input. You will notice that the CRT TV will display the widescreen video in a letterboxed format (black bars at the top and bottom).

So basically, this changeover is not really a huge deal at all. For all those millions of households with digital cable subscriptions or satellite services, they will never even notice the difference. For those approximately 40 million households still on using analog broadcasts through an antenna on their roof. I'm afraid those people will just have to get an "ATSC-to-analog" converter or make the leap to a cable or satellite service.

With Vizio HDTVs being sold for about $599, the only real problem we need to worry about is the environment getting soiled with CRT monitors.

Butch 09-14-2007 02:08 PM

Re: FCC Issues Rules For 2009 Digital TV Broadcasts
I don't feel sorry for cable companies or consumers who have spent the last decade with their heads in the sand. It should come as no surprise to anyone that analog is out and digital is IN. The FCC has succumbed to a few special interest groups and has allowed this conversion process to drag on for far too long already. If the FCC had any backbone they would have enforced their own rules for digital tuners for all new televisions when they had the chance. Remember their original regulations which called for certain percentages of new sets to include ATSC tuners? I can't remember a single case where they actually fined a manufacturer for non-compliance. Had they enforced those rules we wouldn't be talking about the poor cable companies and consumers who feel like 15 years is too short a time period to replace their televisions. We would already be there. Content providers and equipment manufactures should share some of the blame for delaying the inevitable. A good number of us waited to purchase digital sets because of all the confusion about interfaces and formats. Take HDCP out of the picture and we would have jumped on the band wagon a lot sooner.

The fact is, we should have been 100% digital a long time ago. And we would have been if the manufacturers and content providers had voluntarily begun moving towards digital back in the 90's as the FCC requested. It was only because of their refusal to do it voluntarily that the FCC felt compelled to step in and require them to do so.

Now you tell me that the FCC has lost their spine again and that they are going to extend analog out to 2012. UNBELIEVABLE!

tigeraudio2007 09-14-2007 02:17 PM

Re: FCC Issues Rules For 2009 Digital TV Broadcasts
You are right Butch.

Don't get me wrong, I have no sympathy for the content provides or the manufacturers. The blame lies 100% on them and not consumers. Manufacturers have made every HDTV and device obsolete constantly upgrading to new models before the previous has had a chance to be on the shelf. A lot of us have just succumbed, but there is a population out there that is telling the companies to go screw themselves.

CRT TVs were standard for so long. The new digital technologies will not stop changing. And they can't, becuase there is always someone out there changing individual components within the device resulting a whole new model HDTV because HDMI changed from 1.2 to 1.3. Or the resolutiomn standard changes from 480p to 720p to 1080i to 1080p. It is neverending.

The population out there that is not converting their sets, it is not because it is too expensive, it is because their is no end to changes in sight. And that makes consumers feel like they are always getting ripped off and are behind the times of whatever the new technology or model device is.

TRT 09-15-2007 06:43 AM

Re: FCC Issues Rules For 2009 Digital TV Broadcasts

Or worse; Give the providers the excuse to delay the addition of more HDTV content even longer.

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