C-U commission to hold digital TV information session

By Daniel Johnson

In an article posted July 9, 2008 on DailyIllini.com, “C-U commission to hold digital information session,” it was reported that television stations will stop broadcasting to televisions not connected to cable or satellite systems. Stations will not stop broadcasting to the televisions; rather, the televisions will not be able to receive the signals on different frequencies with the digital encoding.

The article also reported analog system was the system of using rabbit ears or antennae. Antennae will still pick up the broadcast signals for owners of digital televisions. Analog TV-users will need to buy an analog to digital converter box.

In addition, the article incorrectly reported the converter boxes will produce better picture and sound quality. Televisions using the converters will be subject to similar fluctuations in signal due to weather or other causes as other users.

The Daily Illini regrets these errors.

Starting February 17, 2009, television stations are scheduled to stop broadcasting to televisions not connected to cable or satellite systems. In order to better inform the community, the Champaign-Urbana Cable Television and Telecommunications Commission will be holding a study session Wednesday at 4 p.m. to address concerns and questions about the switch.

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“There has been a lot of misinformation on the topic of the switch to (Digital TV, also known as DTV),” said Jeff Hamilton, telecommunications and audio/visual technician for the city of Champaign. “If you have cable or satellite signal going into every TV, you don’t need to worry about the switch, but if you have any analog televisions still, you need to buy a converter box.”

The switch from analog television, the system of using rabbit ears or antennae, to digital is being mandated so that the broadcast spectrum may be freed up to be used in other ways. According to DTV.gov, the government Web site being used to inform the public on the switch, the spectrum will be used for services such as wireless broadband Internet and broadband radio service.

As far as television difference, those that buy the converter boxes have been promised better picture and sound quality.

“The analog broadcast uses a ton of spectrum. When the switch is complete, all of the spectrum that analog used will be open for use by a much wider variety of services,” Hamilton said.

Champaign and Urbana residents have produced a large demand for the converter box.

“What we’re seeing in most of Champaign is what we’re seeing in most of the U.S. in general; the manufacturers and government really underestimated how many people will want the converter,” said Steve Suderman, manager of Good Vibes, an electronics store in Champaign. “Even people with cable and satellite that still have a television in their laundry room or garage, something along those lines, they will have to get the converter.”

While Suderman had no estimate as to how many converters had sold from his store, he said he was “hardly surprised at how many had.”

“Not too many people, especially the lower and fixed-income families, those who don’t speak English as a first language, those people didn’t know about this until recently,” he said. “Those are the ones we’re seeing most and who probably have the worst idea of what to expect, which is why it’s a good thing we’re having the meeting.”