Throwback Thursday - Digital Television

Published: Mar. 3, 2023 at 6:08 PM EST
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The United States officially made the switch to digital, over the air, television broadcasts in 2009, however leading up to the switch, there were questions and concerns about what the change would mean to television audiences. NewsSource8′s Brian Bouchard has this week’s Throwback Thursday.

Nowadays it’s hard to find any piece of technology that isn’t being encoded and decoded, those zeros and ones making up the digital communications we take for granted everyday, but back at the turn of the millennium, the US was preparing to radically change the way television stations broadcast to the public. In this week’s Throwback Thursday, we dial the time machine back to 1999, where WAGM reporter Lina Balciunas gave viewers a look at that changes that would eventually come.

Even with all the recent changes in television technology, digital television has always seemed as remote as the year 2000. But now the millennium is a mere 10 months away and so too looms a national shift in our TV viewing capabilities.

“It looks more like a cinema screen, like a movie screen, that’s the biggest thing you’ll notice immediately, the next thing is the picture clarity is just totally awesome. Big difference in picture, crispness, detail, color rendition. All of those things are off the chart as compared to what we have today.”

This isn’t like the option of buying a VCR or a satellite system. All television stations are required to broadcast digitally by the year 2006. But don’t worry if you might be technologically or financially limited the arrival of digital won’t necessarily shut off your television.

“You will be able to buy a converter box that will allow an older TV set to watch those signals. The converter box will probably sell for somewhere around 200 dollars to 150 dollars.”

Or you can opt for an entirely new digital TV set which would currently set you back at least 3 to 4 thousand dollars, but just like with any new product greater market demand as time goes on will drive the costs down.

“It’s like when color television came in it was gradual at first. First it was Bonanza then other shows, et cetera, et cetera went along, this is how this change will happen. So I do not think there are a lot of people that will invest in these high end first sets because there’s not a lot of programming material out there for them to watch.”

50% of regular programming must also be available digitally by 2003. Now for those who think television is television is television, digital wont make much of a difference but if you have the patience and pocketbook to play with the new technology, the possibilities will be limitless.

Lina Balciunas, NewsSource8