"The Digital Transition, TV's Long-Running Horror Show"
In today's Post, Rob Pegoraro has the above titled article about the DTV transition.
In the paragraph entitled "DTV or HDTV?" he garbled the history of DTV somewhat and the Brinkley book, Defining Vision, is more accurate. DTV started as analog HDTV - an NAB attempt to kill off increased land mobile sharing of TV spectrum by using technology NHK of Japan had developed. Then several US techie renegades, including MIT my alma mater, showed DTV was feasible for HDTV. Then some mainstream broadcasters started salivating on extra capacity not HDTV and pressed for the flexibility to make consumers pay for new electronics but not necessarily get significantly improved pictures - but more versions of Laverne and Shirley. The final rules struck a better balance.
Some interesting quotes from the article:
"-- Late, not-so-great converter boxes: One remedy was supposed to be a flood of cheap converter boxes that could bring any old TV into the digital era. But these boxes didn't land in stores until spring 2008. They had to pass government-run performance tests, but no such attention was paid to their usability -- leaving buyers to puzzle through different arrangements of antenna jacks and video inputs and outputs.
-- Guessing games with local signals: The best digital tuner won't help if a nearby station airs a digital signal at partial strength or under some other temporary impairment. But viewers have few easy ways to check for those problems or to see whether a station's reception will clear up after its signal moves to a different frequency after the analog shutoff.
The FCC collects a wealth of technical detail from broadcasters but hides it behind one of the worst-organized, least-helpful sites in all of government. Until that agency began providing a more accessible site earlier this year (http://dtv.gov/fixreception.html), your best source might have been a volunteer-run site, http://rabbitears.info. [Emphasis added.]
-- Cable's botched digital transition: Viewers who subscribe to cable TV haven't had to worry about these issues. But the digital upgrades cable operators have made to their networks inflicted pain of their own.
Those companies cut analog service that worked on "cable-ready" TVs without establishing a standard for digital-cable reception that would let viewers continue to opt out of cable boxes. They made a total mess of their first big attempt at a standard link between digital-cable services and digital TVs, the CableCard, and have taken so long with their second, Tru2Way, that it won't hit the mass market until well after analog TV's death"