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Here Comes Digital TV

Most Americans don't know very much about a dramatic change about to occur regarding TV. . . the transition to Digital TV.1 Those who have heard about HDTV focus on one thing. . .the TV sets will be expensive. However, the transition to Digital TV has already begun.

In November of 1998, television stations in the nation's largest cities began to transmit a second signal. Instead of sending out a regular television broadcast, this signal sent out information in the digital language of computers. Thus, television began the leap to digital television (DTV). As a result of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, existing broadcasters were given the exclusive use of an additional 6 megahertz of the public airwaves. Between now and 2003 (and perhaps beyond), each local television station will begin using this second allocation of public space. And like the first allocation of public spectrum, they got this public space absolutely free of charge.

The transition to DTV is sometimes compared to other technological leaps: such as the introduction of motion pictures in a world once dominated by photographs and paintings, or like the switch from black and white to color TV. But the transition to DTV is more like the transforming appearance of TV into a world that knew only radio. As TV combined radio and film, DTV combines the compelling power of television with the potential interactivity and information access of personal computers. For this very reason, DTV represents not only the single biggest technological leap television viewers have experienced in decades, but a change with vast social and economic consequences.


1Roper Starch Worldwide, "Education is Key to Creating HDTV Demand", http://www.roper.com/news/content/news96.htm


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