Digital TV will change your life — or not

Ahead of us looms a life-changing experience rivaled only by rare monumental events of the past, such as Y2K and the unprecedented Geraldo Rivera uncovering the mystery of Al Capone’s vault.

(“Holy ^$*$^&!! There’s nothing here!! Empty!! What the %^$&$^ were we thinking??!!”)

One again we’ve climbed the technology ladder, leaving behind a part of Americana, including those beloved typewriter-repair training schools located at the end of a remote strip mall, videotape, floppy disks, cassettes and Zamfir, Master of the Pan Flute. Looming (”looming” is used frequently here) ahead, like the meteor in Armageddon — or whatever Bruce Willis movie you choose — is June 12.

Ring a bell? If it doesn’t, then you’ve not been paying attention to all of those TV anchors telling us that the time to transition to digital from analog television is almost upon us. In case you’ve been in a coma or in traffic on Georgia 400, here’s a summary:

First of all, to simplify matters, people now refer to digital television as DTV and analog television as LPTV (not ATV, since ATV is commonly associated with all-terrain vehicles and Bruce Willis).

The switch to DTV will offer a host of important public benefits, to include:

— Freeing up parts of the broadcast spectrum for public safety communications including reruns of “Adam-12.”

— Allowing some of the spectrum to be auctioned to companies that will be able to provide consumers with more advanced wireless services, such as wireless TVs and wireless kids with volume controls.

— Allowing stations to offer improved picture and surround sound so we can hear the incoherent babbling on “The View” just a little bit clearer.

— Expanding programming choices for viewers. For example, a broadcaster will be able to offer multiple digital programs simultaneously. This is called multi-casting. It will be impossible to do because our brains will fry, but the word “multi-casting” reeks with the air of technology and progress.

— Providing interactive video and data services that are not possible with analog technology (“Chic-O-Wah-Wah”).

What’s the difference in DTV and LPTV?

For example, rather than being limited to providing one analog program, a broadcaster is able to offer a super-sharp High-Definition (HD) digital program or multiple Standard-Definition (SD) digital programs simultaneously. Digital television offers many advantages over analog television for viewing broadcast TV.

This is a long paragraph that says: “Better picture.”

There are degrees of HD, depending on how much you want to pay or how big your HDTV is. It ranges from the top-of-the-line Super HD Fantastic (SHDF) to the bottom-shelf Standard Television Definition known as STD. You probably don’t want to be associated with the acronym STD, regardless of what it means.

What are the laws regarding DTV?

In 1996, Congress authorized the distribution of an additional broadcast channel to each broadcast TV station so that they could use it for digital broadcasting while simultaneously continuing their analog broadcast channel. This was first introduced by the CIA, using subliminal message capabilities. This is why a lot of your neighbors, when you asked what they were doing this weekend, responded: “I don’t know, cook out, assassinate Fidel Castro, and wash the car.”

Later, Congress mandated June 12, 2009 (extended from Feb. 17, 2009, and known as the period between February 17 and June 12, 2009), as the last day for full-power TV stations in the United States to broadcast in analog. Before June 12, 2009, broadcast stations in all U.S. markets were transmitting in both analog and digital. After June 12, 2009, full-power TV stations will transmit in digital only. Those who still attempt to transmit analog TV signals will be prosecuted under the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, which isn’t really true, but has a distinctive ring to it.

All kidding aside, they’ll be killed.

When will stations go digital?

All remaining full-power TV stations still broadcasting in analog will make the transition to all-digital between April 16 and June 12. As of Feb. 17, about one-third of the nation’s full-power TV stations had already gone all-digital. If you live near one of these stations and your hair is falling out and you find a third hand growing out of your head, you’re in DTV-Land.

If you watch over-the-air television today, as opposed to the obsolete under-the-air television, you should be able to receive all or most of your local stations’ digital signals on your ATV — if you have a DTV receiver. You may view high-definition and mult-icast programming from your local stations. Check your local program listings or contact your local TV stations, or Bruce Willis, to find out more about the digital TV available now.

P.S. Bring lots of money.

To contact your local TV stations, you can check your analog or digital channels by entering your ZiIP code using the FCC Support Center’s Channel Lookup feature. It is located on your remote next to the other 15 buttons that you have no clue what they do. If you press the button and your microwave explodes, or you suddenly urinate in your pants, turn the TV off and call the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Hotline. The process will take less than two months.

What do I need for DTV picture reception?

You need one of the following:

— A TV set with a digital tuner. A “digital tuner* can be purchased at a store where they sell “digital tuners,” not to be confused with techno-terms often ending with the word “capacitors.”

— An analog TV set connected to a digital-to-analog converter box and either a rooftop antenna or “rabbit ears” connected to your set. Aluminum foil is optional.

If you have a digital TV set, you will not need any additional equipment (with the exception of a broadcast antenna) to receive over-the-air digital broadcast programming. However if you have an analog TV set, to receive and display over-the-air digital or HD programming, a digital or HD set-top box — or HDSTB — must be connected between the antenna and the monitor. This is an easy process. Be sure to start this process on a Monday in order to be ready for weekend viewing.

Make sure you have all of the DTV equipment you need. DTV equipment can be purchased as an integrated set or as separate components. “Integrated” digital TV sets have both a built-in digital tuner and a digital monitor to display the programming. Be sure to bring more money.

If you buy a digital monitor only (DMO), without an integrated digital tuner (IDT), you will need a stand-alone digital tuner (SADT), a cable set-top box (CSTB) or a satellite set-top box (SSTB) to watch DTV.

Congress has set June 12 as the final deadline for terminating analog broadcasts and those who broadcast them. Under the law, as of Feb. 17, some full-power broadcast stations in the United States have already stopped broadcasting on analog airwaves and begun broadcasting only in digital. The remaining stations will stop broadcasting analog sometime between April 16 and June 12.

Analog sets equipped with a converter box will either explode or display the digital broadcasts, but not in full digital quality — making them less of a person in the eyes of the FCC. Those who continue to use analog television will be banned to caves and subject to the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act (SHTA).

Maybe buy a book.

11 comments Add your comment

ATC

May 19th, 2009
2:45 pm

What a perfectly delightful rant…

Jimbo

May 19th, 2009
4:19 pm

That’s actually more informative than most information about the switch-over I’ve seen on the TV.

CHUCK

May 20th, 2009
3:28 pm

hilarious but true. haven’t thought about ADAM_12 in years. there’s probably alot of readers who have no clue what ADAM-12 is or about,
thanks steve for the memories

J.D.

May 21st, 2009
1:05 pm

Great article, Steve! I think you enjoy all of the acronyms as much as I do. I’m just waiting for the day something is introduced that can use the initials “EIEIO”.

Lulu

May 24th, 2009
11:14 am

Fantastic! At last someone with sees humor in this maze. Very enjoyable.

Sam

May 24th, 2009
12:18 pm

Helpful or not, what the heck does this information have to do with crime? I’m not trying to be a jerk, but come on! What’s next? Ranting about the different types of flour involved in baking while complaining about “them new contraptions called mixers” and tossing in random references to Julia Child, Ginsu knives, and the FDA? Just stay on topic. You’re tagline is “A neighborhood watch’s look at criminal Einsteins and the cops that figure them out.” Use your creativity to expand that viewpoint, or at least change the title and understood subject matter of your column. Otherwise, you’re downplaying and ignoring the importance of the insight you could be sharing with us.

jay

May 24th, 2009
12:29 pm

and whats the deal with airline peanuts?

gadyke

May 26th, 2009
12:09 pm

Sam – part of that tagline is “the cops that figure them out”. Lt. Steve often shares his views on other things in his life and observations in general that have nothing to do with law enforcement. Most of us find these humerous and look forward to what might come out of his head next. Stick around and you’ll get more of the police blotter type reports.

ATC

May 28th, 2009
1:00 am

Ok Steve, it is time for something new.

Turd Fergusen

May 28th, 2009
11:21 am

On my DTV I am even able to smell the occassional fart. This DTV is GREAT!!

*POOT*

Patrick

May 29th, 2009
8:27 am

With digital TV you can actually feel Jack Webb’s resentment towards the punks of the 60s and 70s, and if you were around during that time, you would feel repentant for any wrongdoing you did. And if you’re a punk of today, you’d straighten up in a heartbeat, which can actually be heard through digital broadcasting.

Not only would you hear the hatred in his voice, but you’d feel it. It’s like the Scared Straight program, but without actual human interaction.