In December of 1996, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the U.S. standard for a new era of television: digital television (DTV). This new system uses the same digital technology -- a series of zeros and ones -- utilized by computers, compact discs and DVDs. Picture and sound quality are greatly improved, and the new system allows broadcasters to transmit additional information about the program, and additional channels of programs, all at the same time.
+ Why are we switching to DTV?
In the late 1990s, Congress determined that broadcast stations must transition from analog television broadcasting to digital television broadcasting. Converting to DTV allows parts (“bands”) of the scarce and valuable broadcast spectrum to be used for public safety and emergency services and new wireless services. Because public safety and emergency services have become more important, Congress established a “hard” DTV transition deadline that requires all full-power television stations to shut off analog broadcasts. (The deadline for low-power television and translator stations will be established at a future date.) Today, television stations across the United States are delivering television programming in a digital format.
+ What makes digital different from analog broadcasting?
There are three main advantages to DTV:
1. High Definition Television (HDTV) offers four times the resolution, or clarity, of analog television and are displayed in a wide screen format similar to a movie theater. In addition to dramatically improved picture quality, the sound is CD-quality.
2. Multicasting DTV allows stations to broadcast multiple channels simultaneously. While these channels may not be HDTV, the digital format provides better pictures and sound than analog's format. Multicasting affords Eight the ability to offer more services to the community.
3. Enhanced Television (also known as Interactive Television) allows additional material related to programming to be transmitted. For example, a viewer watching an enhanced television program might download additional video, audio, text and/or data via computer, or through the TV itself.
DTV provides pictures in different sizes, called aspect ratios. Aspect ratio is a technical term that refers to a screen's width in relation to its height. An aspect ratio of 4:3 is what analog TV used. DTV can provide pictures in this 4:3 screen ratio, but can also broadcast a widescreen format, which has an aspect ratio of 16:9.
Resolution is a technical term that refers to scanlines in the video -- how much detail is contained in a picture (how realistic it can look).
There are scanning resolutions of 720p, 1080i and 1080p. Although nuances between these resolutions can be discerned, most people agree that any type of digital
broadcasting is an improvement over analog TV.
+ Will I need a new TV?
You do not need to throw away your old TV.
You can purchase a new digital TV, if you’d like, but it is not necessary for watching digital TV.
If you keep your old TV you will either need to:
(1) subscribe to a Pay TV service (such as cable or satellite), or (2) purchase a digital-to-analog set-top converter box.
If you subscribe to a Pay TV service, contact your provider for information about their digital service. There may be an upgrade cost and additional fees associated with their service.
If you purchase a converter box, it hooks to your TV much like a VCR. You designate a specific channel on your TV set, and then use the remote control of the converter box to switch between the digital channels.
A converter box requires an antenna (as an input source for television signals). Your current TV antenna should work fine for receiving Eight's signal with a new converter box (test it before you buy a new antenna).
Sometimes moving your antenna to another part of the room can improve reception.
+ What is the Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Assistance Program?
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce is offering assistance in the form of $40 coupons for converter box purchases. Plesae know there is a waiting list for these coupons.You can apply here (limit two coupons per household).
Digital-to-analog converter boxes (set-top boxes) make DTV signals viewable on analog TV sets.
A converter box hooks to your TV much like a VCR. You designate a specific channel on your TV set, and then use the remote control of the converter box to switch between the digital channels.
A converter box requires an antenna (as an input source for television signals). Your current TV antenna should work fine for receiving TV signals with a new converter box (test it before you buy a new antenna). Sometimes moving your antenna to another part of the room can improve reception.
Converter boxes are available in local retail stores and online.
We recommend a model that has "RF pass through" or "Analog pass through" which receives both analog and digital channels.
Find a nearby retailer who accepts these government coupons.
+ What do DTV sets look like and what will they cost?
Most DTV sets have wider, less square screens than analog TV sets. This widescreen format presents images more like a movie theater. A range of screen sizes is available.
As with most consumer electronics technologies, DTV sets have become less expensive since their introduction. Prices are expected to continue to decrease over time and will vary depending on screen size, display technology, and other features. For more information review the Shopper’s Guide.
+ Will I need a special antenna to receive DTV over-the-air?
If you do not subscribe to a Pay TV delivery service, you will need an antenna to receive DTV.
Your current home antenna should work with your new TV or converter box (test it before you buy a new antenna).
Sometimes moving your antenna to another part of the room can improve reception.
Some homes that use coaxial cable to connect their rooftop or attic antenna may need to change their RG59 cable to RG6 (to reducce noise and pixelation in their digital reception).
+ Does this mean that Eight/KAET will no longer broadcast on analog Channel Eight?
Yes, the analog channel Eight will go away. Eight broadcasts three different digital channels -- Eight HD, Eight Create and Eight World.
The old analog frequencies will be utilized by emergency services and other wireless technologies. The new digital standard of broadcasting will provide viewers with better pictures and more television choices.
+ What is on Eight Digital Broadcasting?
Eight is currently multicasting three channels:
Digital and widescreen programming
featuring PBS landmark programming: American Experience, History Detectives, Nova, Masterpiece Theatre, Nature, Austin City Limits, Smart Travels and much more.
Public affairs, opinions and newsmakers, political commentary — Eight provides the context to explore the issues of the day in Arizona, nationally and around the globe. Watch Frontline, Nova, Now, Bill Moyers Journal, Independent Lens, Charlie Rose, Nightly Business Report, Tavis Smiley, The McLaughlin Group and more.
+ How can I get Eight Digital Broadcasting?
For over-the-air reception, you need an indoor or outdoor antenna for either (a) a digital TV monitor, or (b) a digital-to-analog converter box to receive Eight HD at 8.1, Eight Life at 8.2, and Eight World at 8.3.
Eight Digital Broadcasting is currently transmitting in Maricopa, Pinal and Mohave counties (see map). We are awaiting FCC approval and funding to convert our translator stations and repeater transmitters across Arizona to digital signals.
For cable and satellite subscribers, Eight Digital Broadcasting is available through many local providers in Maricopa, Pinal and Mohave counties. Contact your service provider for exact details. An upgrade cost and additional fees may be associated with their digital service.
On Cox, Eight HD can be found on 1008, Eight Life is on 80 and Eight World can be found on 88.
+ Is Eight Digital Broadcasting available throughout Arizona?
Currently our broadcast reach for Eight Digital Broadcasting is approximately Maricopa, Pinal and Mohave Counties.
View the attached map for exact locations.
We are awaiting FCC approval and funding to convert our translator stations and repeater transmitters across Arizona to digital signals.
+ Why does a digital channel sometimes disappear from the television screen?
The digital signal that provides superior pictures and sound is somewhat complex. Sometimes a receiver can become “confused” and “forget” how to tune to a DTV station. This can usually be corrected by "auto-scanning" or “rescanning” channels. Check your owner's manual. Re-orienting the antenna may also help. If trouble continues, call Eight/KAET at 480.965.2308 and we may be able to offer other suggestions.
+ Is HDTV the same thing as DTV?
No. HDTV is the highest quality of DTV and is presented in a 16:9 screen aspect ratio (similar to a movie theater), but it is only one of several DTV formats. Other common formats are Standard Definition Television (SDTV) and Enhanced Definition Television (EDTV).
SDTV is a basic display and resolution for DTV. Transmission of SDTV is typically in the 4:3 screen aspect ratio.
EDTV allows additional material related to programming to be transmitted. For example, a viewer watching an enhanced television program might download additional video, audio, text and/or data via computer, or through the TV itself.
+ What is the difference between integrated DTVs and DTV monitors?
An Integrated DTV set is a digital television with a built-in digital decoder or DTV receiver. If you have an Integrated DTV and live in an area served by a DTV broadcast station, you need only an antenna to receive over-the-air DTV broadcast programming. Integrated TVs can usually receive and display current analog signals.
In contrast, a DTV monitor is not capable of receiving DTV broadcast programming without additional equipment; it is simply a display device without the processing capability for DTV reception. A DTV set-top decoder must be connected between the antenna and the monitor to receive and display over-the-air DTV programming.
Confirm with your retailer that the DTV receiver or set-top decoder is compatible with the DTV monitor that you are purchasing. Most monitors have a built in analog receiver and can display regular analog TV programming. They can also display standard resolution video from DVD players and VCRs.
+ Can I see a big difference between analog TV and DTV?
Yes. Viewers see dramatic improvements in DTV. Visually, high-definition television (HDTV) gives viewers crystal clear resolution and razor sharp detail. Individual hairs, labels on footballs and the subtle effect of wind blowing through grass are all clearly visible through HDTV. The detailed resolution and color provides an image akin to a movie-theater experience. Combined with the capacity to deliver enhanced Dolby Digital surround sound, HDTV produces an advanced home theater effect. DTV provides viewers with sharper images, better sound, and more viewing options.
+ Why does Eight, Arizona PBS broadcast 8.1 at 720p?
The main channel of Eight, Arizona PBS (8.1) operates in HD at 720p – the same format used by numerous television stations around the Valley and across the country. Like all U.S. broadcasters, Arizona PBS can only transmit a total of 19.39 MB of data. Arizona PBS uses 720p as opposed to 1080i for 8.1 to save data. This allows Arizona PBS to provide more content for viewers through channels 8.2 (Life), 8.3 (World) and 8.4 (KBAQ/Sun Sounds).
Imagine this in terms of a water pipe. The FCC gives each TV station a 3-inch pipe for broadcasting. A 1080i signal requires a 1.75-inch pipe, whereas a 720p signal needs a 1.25-inch pipe and an SD signal needs a 0.5-inch pipe. A 3-inch pipe could carry a 1080i program (1.75-inches) and two SD programs (two at 0.5 inches or 1 inch) for a total of 2.75 inches of water into the 3-inch pipe. Arizona PBS decided fill its 3-inch pipe with a 720p program (1.25 inches) plus three SD programs (three at 0.5 inches or 1.5 inches) for a total of 2.75 inches of water.
+ How much better is the quality of HDTV than analog TV?
Television pictures are made up of numerous “lines” that are scanned horizontally. HDTV pictures are created by scanning up to twice as many lines as analog’s scanning. This resolution and other technical factors improve the sharpness of the picture. Small text can have better clarity on an HDTV set. HDTV sets have wider, movie-theater like screens that emulate human peripheral vision, making it more natural to watch.
+ What about my VCR, DVD player and camcorder? Will I be able to use them with an HDTV set?
HDTV sets are “backward compatible” so existing analog equipment (VCRs, DVD players, camcorders, video games, etc.) should work on digital TV sets. Video will be displayed in the maximum resolution that is available with each product, but not necessarily in high-definition quality.
+ Do I already have DTV via digital cable or satellite?
You may have DTV if you subscribe to the digital package and get digital channels. But the digital cable tier and satellite service are not necessarily DTV. Your cable or satellite provider may be using digital compression technologies as a more efficient way of delivering programming to you. If you have an analog television set, then you are probably not getting DTV, even though the reception may be somewhat improved. Check with your cable or satellite provider to find out for sure.
+ Will set top boxes used to convert over-the-air digital TV broadcasts for viewing on analog sets also convert digital closed captioning?
Digital-to-analog set-top boxes will be able to convert over-the-air digital closed captioning for display on analog TV sets.
+ How can I learn more about the Digital Conversion?