Transition from Analogue to Digital Television
The impact and influence that television has had on culture and politics since its introduction in the 50’s has been and continues to be remarkable, and it is interesting to know what the transition from analogue to digital transmission would mean for television in general. From the confines their walls, viewers have been able to experience the otherwise physically inaccessible side of the world. Would a transition from analogue to digital migration change people’s perspective on and perception of life further?
The difference between analogue and digital transmission lies in how the radio frequency carrier signal is modified. The radio frequency signal is the signal that is used to transmit information from the transmitting station to television receivers. The radio frequency is called the carrier frequency and it has to be modified in order to carry the information that needs to be broadcasted. The carrier frequency can be modified either analogously or digitally.
In analogue transmission, the television carrier radio wave is modified in such a way that either of its two parameters varies continuously with time. The two forms of modification or modulation are AM or Amplitude Modulation, and FM or Frequency Modulation. In the former, the amplitude of the carrier wave is made to vary analogously to the information while in the latter the frequency of the carrier wave is varied. Analogue television uses AM for the video component while the audio component is carried in FM (Ibrahim and Eugene 9).
On the other hand, digital television transmission, unlike the continuous variation of the carrier wave implemented in analogue transmission, relies of an on and off code (Richard 225). This means that there is either a signal, on or one; or there isn’t, off or zero. Some variations of digital modulation include the period for the “on state” or the number of “on states” for a given period of time. The information for transmission “switches” on and off the radiation of the carrier frequency. The information is extracted by the decoding of the carrier frequency in digital TV sets.
What difference would the mere adoption of a new method of TV signal transmission make? The frequency and amplitude of wave, the parameters on which analogue transmission relies, can be altered by such means as interference and diffraction, thus interfering with both the audio and the video quality (the distortions cannot be removed). Digital transmission would yield the same quality of audio and video as they left the transmitting station.
In addition to not deteriorating the video and audio, the there are other advantages of the digital transmission that have motivated the transition (Hatori and Tadashi 101): High Definition (HD) videos can be transmitted, in addition to the Standard Definition (SD) that analogue transmission does; digital transmission promises more than one sound channels; the quality of digital signals are independent of distance which means few transmitting stations for the same provider; and the possibility of multiple channels by the same provider. Last but not least, the frequency bandwidth used by analogue will find new uses like internet broadband transmission.
The transition to the alluring digital transmission is not without challenges to both the broadcasters and consumers of television. Consumers either find buying new sets. On the broadcasters’ side there are administrative and regulatory challenges in terms of license reviews, broadcasting and spectrum rights (Lubbers 175).
While the transition will definitely, arguably, offer broadcaster a wide range of options and enhance the experience of the consumer of television, there is very little likelihood that the traditional role of the television will change at all.
Brice, Richard. Newnes Guide to Digital Tv. Oxford: Newnes, 2003. Internet resource.
Hatori, Mitsutoshi, and Tadashi Shiomi. Digital Broadcasting. Tokyo: Ohmsha, 2000. Print.
Ibrahim, K F, and Eugene Trundle. Newnes Guide to Television and Video Technology. Oxford:
Newnes, 2007. Internet resource.
Lubbers, Jeffrey S. Developments in Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice, 2007-2008.
Chicago, Ill: Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice, American Bar
Association, 2009. Print.