Digital transition

By: Emi FitzGerald Email
By: Emi FitzGerald Email

If you can see and hear KXII-TV’s broadcast now, you're watching our broadcast through a variety of ways. Maybe cable, satellite, or straight over the air, but one year from now, the analog signal will be a thing of the past. It may seem like technical jargon, but Emi FitzGerald is here to sort it all out.

Most people have heard of digital television, or at least high-definition. The nationwide change means more choices, but if you're not prepared, your TV will just be a big box in the corner.

The pictures can be stunning, but what could just be seen as a luxury for the tech-savvy will soon be a necessity for TV watchers.

So what do people know about digital television? Here are some responses we got:

"Not too much."

"Everyone will have to comply within the next year, I think."

"It looks better, it will be better in the sense that they'll get additional services free of charge," KXII-TV general manager Rick Dean explains.

Several years ago the federal government decided to make the switch because digital signals take up significantly less space on the same bandwidth than analog.

Here at KXII-TV, we've been able to add two more networks on the digital signal in addition to CBS: Fox Texoma and My Texoma.

"There are a total of 5 affiliations in the market, where four years ago there were only two," Dean says.

That means if a person watches television using an antenna, and has an older TV, they will not be able to pick up the signal.

"My parents are concerned, and we are too that the television won't work as well when the digital television is available," one viewer says.

So what do you do if you don't have a digital television and watch it over the air? You can use a coupon from the government and buy a digital converter box. Each family is eligible for two $40 coupons each to pay for the boxes. The price of the boxes can run from about $50-$70, leaving the consumer to pay the remaining $10 to $20.

Even though it's another piece of hardware, the picture is the most noticeable difference to the consumer, able to pick up even high definition signals using rabbit ears, if the TV is ‘HD ready.’

"To watch a football game, or basketball game or any other sporting event in a digital format, whether it's high definiton or enhanced definintion is a better, much clearer picture than what we've ever been able to offer before," Dean says.

"Unlike an analog signal that gets weaker and noisier the further away you are, the digital signal remains the same until it reaches the cliff effect before it cuts off," KXII-TV engineer Randy Wells says.

The current analog system will go by the wayside by the end of the year with more equipment to handle even more technology in the future.

Federal officials say they plan to use the extra bandwidth for first responders, then auction off the rest to help pay off the national debt, but for people like Kirk Knowlton, it means changing how they watch television.

"Most of our TVs are over 3 years old right now and if none of them are up to date then I guess they won't work, and I’ll have to out shopping again," Knowlton says.

Right now, several retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart sell the converter boxes. If you watch TV with cable or satellite, you probably won't be affected; it's mostly those who use rabbit ears.

We have a lot of information posted on our DTV/HDTV page.

I plan to also blog regularly in the next year, bringing more updates.

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
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