Digital TV questions answered

Thursday, May 1st 2008, 10:54 pm
By: News 9

By Joel Craig, NEWS 9 Contributor

Questions and confusion continue to rise as Uncle Sam's planned switch from analog television to digital television next February.

I continue to receive e-mail about the change to digital TV, mostly on two subjects.

The first is, "Why is the government forcing this change? Why fix what isn't broken?" While it is true we could continue with TV the way we've known it, there are several reasons to change - primarily quality, space and money.

Your 'ol TV typically displays around 400 lines of resolution. With high definition digital TV you can get 1,080 lines of resolution. When watching football instead of just a field of green - in digital high definition you'll be able to see the blades of grass and no more ghosts or fuzzy picture.

Space is the amount of room TV currently takes up in what's known as the radio frequency spectrum. By going digital TV stations will now have five channels open for programming. For example you could have 9-1 through 9-5 - all with different programs being broadcast at the same time. And the big benefit is all the TV stations can do this using less radio spectrum then they use now.

And that adds up to big money. That entire radio frequency spectrum no longer needed for TV is being auctioned off by the government for billions of dollars to cellular, satellite and other companies that want to use it for new services.

The second question is, "Why can't I get the coupons the government is giving away for the converter boxes if I use a P.O. Box for my address?" The coupons are limited to two per household. A person can have more than one P.O. Box and the program isn't designed for a household to get more than two coupons. Therefore, Uncle Sam wants a real physical address. If you live in a rural area where all you have is a P.O. Box then you'll be asked to also include the actual location of your home. Something like "state road 54, half mile north of Piscataway road."