Your Digital T.V. Questions Answered

By Amanda Toth
Editor-in-Chief

If you’re still using a television with “rabbit ears,” you are going to need to make a purchase before June 12.

June 12 is the last day that television stations have to broadcast in analog.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE

What exactly is the difference between analog and digital TV? Dr. Douglas Lawrence, chairperson of the Communication Arts Department and director of the Digital Media program, compares the two to an LP record and a CD.

“Analog is sending a signal that representations that information,” Lawrence explains. “Digital is a signal that is a replication of that information. The depth and quality can be better, and you can avoid interference.”

This interference can be caused by power lines, or how far the signal has to travel, says Ernie Mengoni, Coordinator of Broadcast Operations.

There is also a marked difference in what information the two signals can carry. “Analog TV can only carry audio, video, and closed caption, and can’t carry the information needed for High Definition TV,” explains Mengoni. “Much more information can be carried in the same amount of space, like multiple channels, more captions, different languages, and High Definition TV.”

WHY ARE WE SWITCHING

“The benefit is that we can process and edit faster,” adds Lawrence. “The way we produce is going digital, with digital cameras and computer editing. We need a standardization of transmission.”

The leftover room that the analog signal used to occupy can be used for emergency service communications, like those of police and fire departments. In addition, digital TV has better picture and sound quality.

HOW TO PREPARE

If you still have a rabbit-ear TV, you don’t necessarily have to buy a new one; you can simply buy a converter. If your analog TV is hooked up to a cable or satellite service, it should still work. DVD players, VCRs, and even video game consoles should also continue to work.

If you are using a TV with a cable or satellite dish, you will not need to do anything.

To help with the cost of the converters, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration is distributing two $40 coupons to each household that requests them. Prices for the converter range from $40 to $70.

For more information, visit www.dtv.gov