DTV - West Windsor Township

Federal Communications Commission
Media Bureau and Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554
Table of Contents
DTV Digital Television Background………………..5
DTV Why Now?.........................................................5
DTV Programming…………………………………….6
DTV and Your Analog TV…………………………….7
DTV Equipment……………………….……………….9
DTV Formats …………………………………………12
DTV Sizes and Costs………………………………..14
DTV Screen Choices………………………………...14
DTV At A Glance……………………………………..16
DTV Definitions………………………………………19
FCC Information……………………………………...27
Words in bold type appear in the definitions
section beginning on page 19.
DTV: Digital Television Background
Digital Television (DTV) is a
new type of broadcasting
technology that will transform
television. Because DTV is
delivered digitally, the
television signal is virtually
free of interference. And
because DTV is more
DTV is virtually free of interference.
efficient than analog,
broadcasters are able to offer television with improved
quality pictures and surround sound. DTV will soon
replace today’s analog television broadcasting system.
This booklet has been prepared by the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) to help you better
understand and answer many of your questions about the
transition to digital television.
DTV: Why Now?
In the 1990s, Congress determined that broadcast stations
must transition from analog television broadcasting to
digital television broadcasting. Converting to DTV will free
up parts (“bands”) of the scarce and valuable broadcast
spectrum, allowing these bands to be used for public
safety and emergency services, such as police, fire and
medical services, and new wireless services, such as
wireless broadband. Because public safety and
emergency services have become even more important
today, Congress established a “hard” DTV transition
deadline that requires all full-power television stations to
cease analog broadcasts after February 17, 2009. (The
deadline for low power television and translator stations will
be established at a future date.) Until then, most television
stations will continue broadcasting on both their digital and
analog channels. Already today, more than 1,600 television
stations throughout the United States are broadcasting
digital programs.
DTV Programming
Digital television offers many advantages over analog
television for viewing broadcast
signals. DTV is more versatile and efficient than analog
television and allows stations to broadcast more
programming using less spectrum. In the same bandwidth
that a broadcaster currently provides one analog channel, a
broadcaster may provide a super sharp “high
definition” (HD) program or multiple “standard definition”
DTV programs simultaneously. Providing several program
streams in one broadcast signal is called “multicasting.” A
broadcaster also can use its DTV signal to provide video
and data services that are not possible with analog
Television stations serving every market in the United States
are currently delivering digital television programming. For a
list of TV stations currently broadcasting in digital, visit http://
DTV and Your Analog TV
Today, most people still have analog televisions.
Analog TVs have been used since the
beginning of television to receive and
display programming. Your analog
television will work as it does today until
the transition to digital is completed.
Even then, you will be able to continue
using your analog television.
DTV is revolutionizing
the TV industry.
Analog televisions will work with a digital converter box.
If you receive TV programming over the air using a roof-top or
rabbit ears antenna, you will be able to purchase a digital
converter box (sometimes referred to as a digital-to-analog
converter box) to enable your analog TV to continue working after
February 17, 2009. You will also need a digital converter box for
each device you have that only has an analog tuner - such as an
analog-only VCR or DVD recorder. A
digital converter box also may receive
multicast channels and high definition
programming and display them in analog
picture quality.
Beginning in 2008, your household may
be able to receive up to two coupons worth $40 each toward the
purchase of digital converter boxes. The National
Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has
responsibility for administering the coupon program. Additional
information can be found at
or call 1-888-DTV-2009.
Cable and Satellite TV Viewers
If you are a cable customer, you may need a set-top box to
receive DTV signals and convert them into the format of your
current analog television, even after the DTV transition is
complete. If you are a satellite customer you may need a different
set-top box in order to receive high definition (HDTV)
programming. Check with your cable or satellite provider to
determine if and when you will need a set-top box.
DTV uses the same antennas as analog TV.
If you already have a good VHF and UHF antenna, either indoors
or on your roof, you don’t have to buy an antenna that is “HD
Ready.” DTV broadcasters have been assigned channels in the
VHF and UHF bands, between 54 and 700 MHz, where analog
channels 2 to 51 are now. Therefore, as long as a DTV signal is
available, your existing antenna should still work after the
transition is complete.
DTV takes advantage of your home theater surround
Analog television broadcasts sound just like FM stereo radio. DTV
broadcasts are digital and allow many more options, including
Dolby® Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, just like a DVD. With a digital
converter box, the digital surround sound will be converted to
analog for your current television or home theater system.
DTV Equipment
The DTV transition has two parts. Broadcasters must upgrade to
digital transmission, and viewers of over-the-air TV must upgrade to
digital reception. Even with a digital-to-analog converter box, your
current analog television will not be capable of taking full advantage
of DTV. To enjoy the full picture quality and benefits of DTV, you
may want to purchase a new DTV set. But before you do, there are
a few things to consider.
Digital TV sets are widely available
Digital TVs are widely available in stores. The Commission's digital
tuner rule specifies that as of March 1, 2007, all new TVs must
include digital tuners. This rule prohibits the manufacture, import, or
interstate shipment of any TV or device containing an analog tuner,
unless it also contains a digital tuner. Despite this prohibition on
manufacture and shipment, retailers may continue to sell analogonly TVs and devices (such as video recorders) from existing
inventory. As a result, at stores where these products are sold,
many consumers may not be aware that this equipment will not be
able to receive over-the-air-television signals after February 17,
To address this issue, the FCC has adopted a rule requiring sellers
to display a Consumer Alert if they are selling TV equipment with
only an analog broadcast tuner. The following text must be
displayed if they are selling television equipment with only an analog
broadcast tuner:
This television receiver has only an analog broadcast
tuner and will require a converter box after February
17, 2009, to receive over-the-air broadcasts with an
antenna because of the Nation’s transition to digital
broadcasting. Analog-only TVs should continue to
work as before with cable and satellite TV services,
gaming consoles, VCRs, DVD players, and similar
products. For more information, call the Federal
Communications Commission at 1-888-225-5322 (TTY:
1-888-835-5322) or visit the Commission’s digital
television website at:
While analog-only receivers may serve the needs of customers who
subscribe to a wired or satellite service or who play games or view
DVD or VCR content, some customers may be unaware that
purchasing a device with an analog-only television receiver may
require additional attention in the future. Public education about the
DTV transition will be a major and beneficial national undertaking,
and a challenge for government and industry.
The Consumer Alert explains that a TV receiver with only an analog
broadcast tuner will require a digital converter box after February
17, 2009, to receive over-the-air broadcasts with an antenna
because of the Nation’s transition to digital broadcasting. Analogonly TVs should continue to work with cable and satellite TV
services, gaming consoles, VCRs, DVD players, and similar
products. If you are uncertain whether a TV you want to buy
contains a digital tuner, be sure to ask the seller.
A digital display may be an integrated television or just
a monitor.
“Integrated” or “Built-In” HDTV or DTV sets are all-in-one sets
that have built-in tuners to receive over-the-air DTV broadcasts and
a screen to display the programming. Other than a standard
antenna, you don’t need any other equipment to receive over-theair digital programming.
An “HDTV Monitor” or “HDTV Ready” set does not have a built-in
tuner and requires you to obtain a separate receiver (such as an
HD set-top box) to receive and view digital programming, including
HD. Set-top boxes can be purchased at retail stores. Cable and
satellite providers may sell or lease set-top boxes for their specific
NOTE: The set-top box described here is not the same as the
digital-to-analog converter box used to convert over-the-air
digital broadcasts for viewing on an analog TV set. Set-top
boxes connected to monitors receive digital over-the-air
broadcasts or cable or satellite signals so they may be viewed
on monitors.
A digital television may be digital cable ready DCR).
Cable subscribers may want to consider a digital cable ready
(“plug-and-play”) DTV set. These sets have the circuitry of a
digital cable box built in. Current first generation plug-and-play sets
are able to receive one-way programming only, including analog
basic, digital basic, and digital premium cable programming. If you
want to receive certain advanced digital cable services - called twoway services - like pay-per-view, video-on-demand, cable operator
enhanced program guide, or interactive data enhanced television
service, using a first generation set, you will need a set-top box.
You may also need a set-top box to receive other cable operatorprovided services, such as those that incorporate the features of a
digital video recorder.
DTV Formats—Aspect Ratio
Televisions come in two aspect ratios. These ratios are 4x3
and 16x9. The aspect ratio is the comparison of the screen’s
width to its height. Traditional analog TV has a 4x3 aspect ratio.
This means that a TV screen is 4 inches wide for every 3 inches of
height. Many new digital televisions are 16x9, or “widescreen.”
The 16x9 aspect ratio more closely approximates the look of
movies, and broadcasters have begun offering programming that
takes advantage of it.
“Letterbox” is the term used when 16x9 content is viewed on
a 4x3 screen. In order to display the widescreen content without
distortion or missing parts of the picture, the television will place
black bars at the top and bottom of the image.
“Pillar box” is the term used when 4x3 content is viewed on a
16x9 screen. In order to display the squarer traditional picture on
a widescreen monitor, black bars are placed down the sides of the
“Postage stamp” is the term used when a 4x3 transmission
contains widescreen images and its own letterbox bars.
When viewed on a television, the image will appear as a smaller
box within your screen.
DTV Formats—Resolution
Although there are as many as 18 DTV formats, only 4 formats are
commonly used. The most common formats fall into three broad
High Definition TV (HDTV)
HDTV in widescreen provides the
highest resolution and picture
quality of all DTV formats. A
current analog TV picture is
made up of 480 horizontal lines.
An HDTV picture can have up to
1080 lines, allowing for sharp
picture detail. The most common
formats are 720p (“p” stands for
progressive scan - see “DTV
Definitions,” pg.11) and 1080i (“i”
stands for interlaced - see “DTV
Definitions,” pg.11) with either
720 progressively (noninterlaced) scanned lines or 1080
interlaced lines. Combined with
digitally-enhanced sound
technology, HDTV achieves a
new benchmark for sound and
picture quality in television.
Enhanced Definition TV
EDTV is a step up from
analog TV and SDTV. Also
called 480 progressive
(480p), EDTV is widescreen
16x9 or traditional 4x3 format
and provides better picture
quality than SDTV, but not as
good as HDTV. Traditional
DVDs are encoded as 480p
(although newer HD-DVD
and Blu-ray players allow
viewing of HDTV discs).
Standard Definition TV (SDTV)
SDTV is the baseline display and resolution for both analog and
digital. Transmission of SDTV is usually in the traditional 4x3
aspect ratio, but may be wide-screen 16x9 format. SDTV and
analog TV can deliver up to 480 interlaced (480i) resolution,
although analog TV may be lower.
DTV Sizes and Costs
As with analog televisions, DTV set
sizes range from very small to quite
large. All TV sizes are measured
diagonally across the screen. So,
most DTV sets, which have an
aspect ratio of 16x9, are wider, but
shorter, than analog TV sets of the
same diagonal screen size.
DTV sets have wider, more
rectangular screens
As with any new consumer electronics technology, DTV sets have
become less expensive since their introduction. Prices vary
depending on screen size, display technology, whether a DTV tuner
is built-in, and other features. While DTV sets are still more
expensive than their analog counterparts, prices have dropped
DTV Screen Choices
You’ll have a number of different screen choices when you look at
DTVs. Some of the most common are:
Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) screens - These are traditional color
television screens updated for digital. Their resolution and color
capabilities vary from model to model. These screens have a
very bright picture, but are limited in size, and the larger units
are typically quite heavy.
Rear Projection TVs - Rear projection TVs can be much
larger than standard CRTs. They create the image on a small
display, but then enlarge it onto the back of the screen. Older
model rear projection TVs using small CRTs to create the
image were dim and hard to see from extreme angles, but new
digital projection technologies like Liquid Crystal Display
(LCD), Digital Light Processing (DLP), and Liquid Crystal on
Silicon (LCoS) create brilliant, wide-angle pictures on everlarger screens.
Front Projectors - Projectors are TVs that create an image by
projecting it onto a wall or stand-alone screen (much like a
movie theater). Projectors use the same digital projection
technologies as rear projection TVs but, because the screen is
separate, the image can be the size of an entire wall. Projectors are not as bright and often require the room to be dark in
order to clearly see the image.
Flat Panel TVs - Flat Panel TVs are very thin and relatively
light weight and are sometimes hung on the wall. Current flat
panels use either LCD or plasma screen technology. Flat
panel LCDs are very thin and produce extremely clear
pictures. Plasma screen TVs produce images by lighting small
pockets of colored gas. This technology allows the TV to
create a bright, clear picture in large screen sizes while
remaining only a few inches thick.
DTV At A Glance
Digital TV
Digital broadcasts are available now in every market. After
the digital transition is completed, over-the-air television will
only be broadcast in digital format.
With an integrated DTV set, only an antenna is needed to
receive over-the-air DTV broadcast programming. For a
monitor or analog TV, a DTV set-top box is required.
Multicasting, electronic program guide, data streaming, and
high definition available.
Will work with cable, satellite, VCRs, DVD players,
camcorders, video games, and other devices. Images will
not be displayed in HDTV unless the equipment is made for
Standard Definition DTV
► Provides good pictures without interference.
480 interlaced lines of resolution.
4x3 or 16x9 aspect ratio.
Multi-channel digital surround sound, including Dolby® Digital
Can receive both digital and analog TV. No set-top box needed
if tuner built-in.
DTV At A Glance
Analog TV
Analog broadcasts may continue through February 17, 2009.
Analog receivers currently built into most older TVs.
Single program stream, no advanced services.
Will continue to work with cable, satellite, VCRs, DVD
players, camcorders, video games, and other devices.
Provides good pictures but with interference and noise.
Up to 480 interlaced lines of resolution.
4x3 aspect ratio.
FM stereo sound.
Can receive only analog TV. A set-top box is needed to
receive DTV.
Enhanced Definition DTV
Provides better picture resolution, clarity, and color.
At least 480 progressive lines of resolution.
4x3 or 16x9 aspect ratio.
Multi-channel digital surround sound, including Dolby® Digital
Can receive both digital and analog TV. No set-top box
needed if tuner built-in.
High Definition DTV
Provides best available picture resolution, clarity, and color.
Up to 1080 lines of resolution - most common formats are
720p (progressive) and1080i (interlaced).
4x3 or 16x9 aspect ratio.
Multi-channel digital surround sound, including Dolby® Digital
Can receive both digital and analog TV. No set-top box
needed if tuner built-in.
DTV Definitions
Analog: Traditional, less-efficient and lower quality system
that uses radio frequency (RF) waves to transmit and display
pictures and sound.
Aspect ratio: Screen’s width as compared to its height. For
example, for 4x3, the traditional TV aspect ratio, a 32-inch TV
would be 25½ inches wide and 19 inches tall. A 16x9
widescreen 32-inch TV is closer to a movie screen than a
traditional TV, and would be 28 inches wide and 16 inches tall.
Broadcast Digital-to-Analog Converter Box: A stand-alone
device that receives and converts digital signals into a format
for display on an analog television receiver.
CableCARD: Security card that digital cable ready TV
owners must obtain from their cable company in order to view
scrambled programming such as premium services.
Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) Screens: Traditional color
television screens are available for both analog and digital
TV. Their resolution and scanning vary from model to model.
These screens have a very bright picture, but are limited in
size and can be quite heavy.
Closed Captioning: Service that allows persons with hearing
disabilities to read dialogue, or the audio portion of a video,
film, or other presentation, on the TV screen.
Coaxial: Coaxial inputs (sometimes just called “cable”)
provide a simple and common way to transmit video. Now
coaxial inputs are mostly used for connecting a TV set to an
antenna or cable system.
Component Video: Also known as “Y Pb Pr,” this connector
splits the video signal into three parts. With two audio
connections, this 5 wire solution is the most common way to
connect EDTVs to DVD players and most HDTV monitors to
their receivers or other set-top boxes.
Composite Video: Also called “RCA” connectors, it is the
most common way to connect peripherals and other
components. It consists of one yellow connector for video
and two audio connectors for “right” and “left”. Composite
connectors cannot transmit high definition pictures, so for
HDTV, another connector option, such as HDMI or
Component Video, must be used.
Digital Broadcast Satellite (DBS): TV programming
delivered via high-powered satellite. Signals are transmitted
to a small dish (usually 18 - 24 inches across) mounted
Digital Cable Ready TV (DCR): Also referred to as “plugand-play,” this is a DTV or other device for digital cable
customers that plugs directly into the cable jack, and does
not require a separate set-top box to view analog and
unscrambled digital cable. Used with a CableCARD, it can
receive scrambled programming such as premium services.
Digital Converter Box: Also referred to as a “digital-toanalog converter box,” this is a stand-alone device that
receives, decodes, and converts over-the-air digital
programming into analog. When connected to an analog
television, it permits digital programming to be displayed in
Digital Television (DTV): Digital technology television that
uses radio frequency (RF) to transmit computer code and
display it as pictures and sound.
Dolby® Digital: Form of multi-channel digital sound, it
provides efficient encoding and noise reduction for high
quality surround sound.
Downconvert: Process by which a high resolution signal is
reduced to a lower resolution for display. Usually, extra
lines are simply ignored when drawing the lower resolution
image, but sometimes more sophisticated methods are
DVI: Digital Video Interface (DVI) is a high quality digital
connector. Similar to HDMI (see definition) and sometimes
with HDCP (see definition), DVI can digitally transmit
uncompressed high definition video, preserving perfect
picture quality. Unlike HDMI or Firewire (see definition),
DVI requires a separate audio connection.
Enhanced Definition TV (EDTV): Better digital television
transmission than SDTV with at least 480p (progressive), in
a 16x9 or 4x3 display and Dolby® digital surround sound.
480p is the quality of most progressive scan DVDs and
EPG: Electronic Program Guide (EPG) is an interactive list
of upcoming TV programming that can be transmitted along
with a DTV program.
Flat Panel TVs: Flat Panel TVs are thin, lightweight TVs
that can be hung on a wall. Current flat panels use Liquid
Crystal Display (LCD) or plasma screen technology.
Firewire: See IEEE 1394.
Front Projectors: TVs that create the image on a small
display, then enlarge it by projecting it onto a wall or standalone screen (much like a movie theater). Front projectors
tend to be dimmer than direct flat panels or CRTs, and often
require the room to be dark to be able to see the image
HDCP: High Definition Content Protection, a technology
used to prevent piracy of high quality uncompressed video,
primarily over DVI connections.
HDMI: High Definition Multimedia Interface, a high quality
digital connector. Similar to DVI and sometimes with HDCP,
HDMI can digitally transmit uncompressed high definition
video and audio on the same cable, preserving picture and
sound quality.
High Definition TV (HDTV): The highest quality digital
television, generally widescreen 16x9 with at least 720
progressive lines or 1080 interlaced lines and surround
HDTV Monitor (also HDTV Ready): TV set with the inputs
and capability to become an HDTV with the addition of an
HDTV tuner, HD cable set-top box, or HD satellite receiver.
HDTV Tuner (also known as decoder or receiver): Device
capable of receiving and decoding HDTV signals. HDTV tuners
can either be built into a TV set (see Integrated or Built-In) or
be a stand-alone device (see Set-Top Box).
IEEE 1394: Also called Firewire or I-link, IEEE 1394 is a
way to transmit compressed data and video between
components on one cable.
Interference: Unwanted electrical signals or noise causing
impairments in the video signal.
Integrated (or Built-In): HDTV or DTV set with the tuner
built into the set. It does not need a separate set-top box to
receive over-the-air signals.
Interlace Scan: Way to scan vertical lines onto a TV
picture by scanning all the odd lines first, then filling in the
even lines. (This happens in the blink of an eye.)
Letterbox: Blank bars above and below the image when
viewing 16x9 aspect ratio content on a 4x3 screen. The
opposite of pillar box.
Multicasting: DTV technology that allows each digital
broadcast station to split its digital bandwidth into two or more
individual channels of programming and/or data services.
(For example, on channel 7, you could watch subchannel 71, 7-2, 7-3 or 7-4.)
Multi-Channel Digital Sound: Feature of DTV that permits
numerous streams of sound to be transmitted for a given
program, providing stereo, surround sound, and even other
Native Resolution: Specific resolution that a television,
whether or not integrated, or a monitor, is designed to
display. All other resolutions must be either upconverted or
downconverted for display.
Pan-and-Scan: Alternative to letterboxing, the process by
which a 16x9 image is converted for display on a 4x3
television by zooming in on the picture and panning to the
part of the image that is most interesting. This allows the
image to fill the entire screen, but causes some portions of
the image not to be displayed.
Pillar Box: Blank bars to the left and the right of an image
when viewing 4x3 aspect ratio content on a 16x9 screen.
The opposite of letterbox.
Pixel: Smallest area of a television picture capable of being
sampled and transmitted through a system, and displayed on
a monitor.
Plug-and-Play: See Digital Cable Ready (DCR).
Postage Stamp: Occurs when an image is both letter and
pillar boxed. When viewed on a television, the image will
appear as a smaller box within your screen.
Progressive Scan: Way to scan vertical lines onto a TV
picture by scanning all the lines consecutively
(progressively). At the same number of lines, progressive
scan produces a higher quality picture than interlace scan.
All flat panel and many digital projection televisions are
progressive scan, so they display progressive scan images
more clearly compared to interlaced images.
Pulldown, 3-2: Process by which a movie shot in 24 frames
per second (fps) is shown as an interlaced television image
at 30 frames per second.
RCA Connectors: See Composite Video.
Rear Projection TVs: Potentially much larger than standard
CRT TVs, rear projection TVs create an image on a small
display, then enlarge it onto the back of the screen. Old rear
projection TVs used a small CRT, while new digital projection
TVs use LCD (Liquid Crystal Display), DLP (Digital Light
Processing), or LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) to create
brilliant, wide angle pictures.
Resolution: Amount of detail that can be seen in a
broadcast image. For television, resolution is measured in
horizontal lines displayed (commonly 480, 720, or 1080).
Set-Top Box: A stand-alone device that receives and
decodes programming so that it may be displayed on a
television. Set-top boxes may be used to receive broadcast,
cable, and satellite programming.
Spectrum: Range of electromagnetic radio frequencies used
in the transmission of radio, data, and video.
Standard Definition TV (SDTV): Basic digital television
format closest to traditional analog TV.
Ultra High Frequency (UHF): Part of the radio spectrum
from 300 to 3000 megahertz which includes TV channels 1469. After the DTV transition, UHF TV will be changed to 470
to 698 MHz, which includes channels 14-51.
Upconvert: Process by which a digital, high definition
television takes a lower definition picture and converts it into a
higher definition picture. This may be done by doubling each
line as it is drawn on the screen, or by using advanced
algorithms to interpolate the data between each lower
resolution line, filling in the missing image.
Very High Frequency (VHF): Part of the radio spectrum
from 30 to 300 megahertz, which includes TV Channels 2-13,
and the FM broadcast band.
Widescreen: Term used generally to describe an aspect
ratio wider than 4x3. For television, refers to the 16x9 aspect
Yagi Antenna: Type of antenna, generally designed for
UHF frequencies, that is ideal for receiving most DTV
stations. Ranging in size from several inches to many feet,
a yagi antenna is the most common design for roof-top
For More Information on DTV
Go to
Contact the FCC’s
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Web site:
1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or
1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY
Postal Mail:
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554
Federal Communications Commission, Washington, D.C.
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