Another Reason Why Your Grandma Needs A Digital TV

Mainstream media loves creating false panics over digital television, and there's another one over the horizon.

Mark Day's outline of discussions over what to do with analogue TV spectrum once the digital TV switchover happens in 2013 is nowhere near as irresponsible or inaccurate as the Herald Sun digital TV beatup earlier this year, but still manages to muddy the waters a fair bit in an area where confusion is already rampant.

Here's the opening paragraph:

THOUSANDS of Australian viewers may have to invest in new aerials and retune their television sets under government proposals to rearrange unused broadcasting spectrum and sell it for more than $1.5 billion.

Actually, that would only happen under one very specific set of circumstances: if the government decides to "restack" the spare space between channels to create more valuable spectrum and decides to do that before the digital TV switchover is fully completed. Neither is anywhere near certain.

More to the point, since the analogue TV signals are due to be switched off in 2013 anyway (and earlier in some regions), anyone faced with that for-the-moment-entirely-theoretical dilemma would do what they'll have to do anyway: invest in a digital set-top box or a new digital-reception-equipped television.

Bottom line? If this angle gets some mileage and a relative rings to ask what they should do because their TV is about to stop working ("I heard it on talkback, it must be true!"), grab them a cheap digital set top box and install it for them. End of story.

Restacking unused spectrum could be expensive [The Australian]


Comments

    I agree with the comments about the media hype. However a "cheap set top box" may not be the best solution. There are some terrible products at the cheap (and sometimes not so cheap) end of the market that will only work in optimum signal conditions. Grandma could end up being awfully disappointed and cut you out of her will!

    Digital TV sucks, if you get bad reception at least with analogue you would get audio and a snowy picture, with digital its all over the place and your lucky if you can go through a whole program without missing anything (if its windy and or raining you may as well read a book), hopefully IPTV takes off before 2013 so i dont have to give up TV.

    "Actually, that would only happen under one very specific set of circumstances: if the government decides to “restack” the spare space between channels to create more valuable spectrum and decides to do that before the digital TV switchover is fully completed. Neither is anywhere near certain."

    Hmmm, sorry, but you're wrong on this one. The effect of a restack (in terms of new aerials, retuning), is the same no matter when you do it.

    By definition, if you move the frequencies on which tv stations broadcast, people will have to rescan. And if they have aerials only suited for particularly frequencies (and TV is no longer on those frequencies), they'll need a new one.

    Don't dismiss this as an issue too quickly.

      Not really -- if they restack after analogue transmissions have stopped, the effect is nil, which the Oz effectively ignores.

    "Not really — if they restack after analogue transmissions have stopped, the effect is nil, which the Oz effectively ignores."

    But restacking involves moving the frequencies the digital services are operating on, not the analogue ones...

    Seriously, there will be an effect. This isn't a subjective point and is accepted by regulators and broadcasters the world over as a reality. It has happened in the US and in the UK regions where switchover has already occurred.

    Here's some background to explain why.

    The digital frequencies are currently spaced out throughout the UHF bands, in and around the analogue frequencies. Once the the analogue frequencies are switched off, the UHF bands would look like swiss cheese - bits and pieces of spare spectrum here and there. Not very useful.

    So governments look to restack the digital frequencies, to create big blocks of clear spectrum. This sells better.

    So, to do this, they have to move the digital frequencies.

    As I said, doesn't matter when you move them, the effect is the same.

    My advice is to stop denying this basic fact - it suggests a lack of understanding on your part.

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