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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Digital Television and Radio Broadcast

The television and radio broadcasts that we have enjoyed in the past century were analogue broadcasts. In recent years, television and radio stations can finally launch digital broadcasts services. The benefits to the broadcasters include better use of the radio spectrum, better signal, voice, picture quality, more channels available and the option to include value-add features. Equipment vendor can sell digital set-top boxes, digital television sets, home and car radios. Governments can also take this opportunity to reuse and plan parts of the radio spectrum.

What's in it for the general public?

The most obvious benefit of having digital television broadcast is better picture quality. The days of television interference is finally over (see note). Beside having clear and sharp television pictures, the resolution has also improved. This is certainly great news for Discovery nature channel viewers. It might not be a triumph for actors and actresses as the audience can inspect every inch of their skin clearly. The other benefit that digital television broadcast has introduce is the option to include value-add features. Viewers can use their remote to interact and obtain more information; directly or indirectly related to the program.

(Note: If the TV reception of a particular area is weak during the analogue broadcast era, the digital signal will still be weak. Supposed the analogue TV picture had very heavy ghosting, the digital TV picture at the same location will likely be a blue screen or showing "no signal". This might be resolved by installing a high gain TV aerial.)

The benefits of digital radio broadcast is not as obvious. While digital radio can produce better sound quality and text based value add services, the uptake has been slow. Perhaps radio broadcasters, equipment manufacturers and consumers knew the benefits gained from shifting from analogue to digital radio are still not enough to convince consumers to purchase a new digital radio set to replace their existing analogue radio receiver "that has been working fine in the past 20 years". Traditional radio broadcasters are also competing with the Internet, WEB 2.0 and hand held entertainment devices such as iPods and smartphones.

With the help from the government, many countries and major cities already have digital  television broadcast available. At presents, analogue and digital signals broadcast in parallel in these cites. Depends on the uptake and the results of public debates, it is not surprising to see Analogue Switch Off in the near future.