2008 sees TV services in the UK start to go completely digital. What is digital TV and how does it affect you?
What is digital TV?
Digital TV means a different way of transferring the sound and pictures you see on the TV. Sound and pictures are converted into ‘bits’ of information. This means that the information is represented as a series of 1’s and 0’s or ‘binary code’. These packets of info take up less space than the current analogue way of sending information. They can also be sent through telephone line or cable, via a satellite dish or an aerial. The digital signal is then turned back into pictures and sound by your digital box or digital TV set.
How does it affect me?
You’ve probably heard ‘digital switchover’ being advertised everywhere, but what does it mean? If you don’t already have digital TV, you won’t be able to continue watching television after the switchover. Don’t start chucking away your telly though as most TVs are already capable of receiving digital TV, such as those that are connected to Sky or Freeview. Those TVs that don’t currently receive cable should be able to be converted if they have a ‘scart’ socket at the back – that’s the triangular shaped socket with lots of pins.
At the moment, one in four UK homes can’t get digital TV, and many still don’t even have channel Five. Switching off the old ‘analogue’ system will allow more space in the airwaves for the digital signal, ensuring everyone gets the same broadcasting system. Also, since the digital way of transmitting moving pictures and sound is computerised, the signal takes up less space in the airwaves. This means there’s more space for new channels – and more choice for us the viewers!
Will it be better?
In short – yes!
There’ll be many more channels. As well as the usual five channels, all Freeview channels will also be available. This amounts to more than 30 standard channels including E4, ITV2 and BBC3.
There will also be better quality pictures and sound, and you can forget about having to get up to fiddle with the aerial. Also all our images will be in widescreen!
As well as TV you will also be able to listen to at least 20 radio stations through your TV set
Expect new features which will progress as the technology advances. These include an electronic TV guide, recordable subtitles and instant information.
Digital TV already offers subtitles and red button interactive features. In the future you can expect broadcasters making more of the ‘red button facility’, such as chat, voting, being able to see other channels at the same time (useful when you want to get the football results). You will be able to pause and rewind your programmes!
The switchover has already started. To minimise risks Ofcom, the body that regulates TV and radio in the UK have decided to roll out the UK switchover gradually. By 2012 we will all have digital TV just in time to watch the Olypmics! Find out when it’s going to happen in your area.