Digital TV is coming, and the Fort St. James Television and Radio Society is prepped for it.
An aggressive advertising campaign to prepare television viewers for the change taking place on August 31 is creating awareness amongst viewers that the air television transmission must switch from analog to digital.
This looming deadline has drawn questions from the community, and Dave Birdi, president of the society assures people service will not be interrupted.
“The TV Society is committed to serving all our viewers, and will continue broadcasting over the air on analog and digital channels,” said Birdi in a statement from the society.
Viewers will continue receiving signal using VHF (Very High Frequency) antenna for channels 2-13 or by using UHF (Ultra High Frequency) antenna for channels 46-68. Last year, the TV Society added four digital channels and plans to add another four channels this winter. The digital service will be extended to Sowchea, Pinchi, and Cassiar Ranch.
People who still have the older cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions will eventually need to purchase a digital converter with analog pass through to view the digital channels, which costs around $60. The box then converts the digital signals to analog for the older technology.
New flat screen televisions with a “digital tuner” or “ATSC tuner” built in will not need a converter box. Local channels should tune automatically when the television goes through auto channel set up in the menu option.
The change to digital television is a result of a decision made in 2008 by the Government of Canada and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The CRTC is an independent public authority responsible for the licensing, regulation, and supervision of all aspects of the Canadian broadcasting system.
One of the main reasons for switching to digital is the need for more radio frequency spectrum, commonly referred to as “airwaves.” In 2008, the federal government raised more than $4 billion in an auction for the air waves. The next auction is expected to be in 2012. Spectrum is in great demand as it is a limited resource used for wireless telephone services, emergency communications, etc. and the conversion to digital will free up a large block of valuable spectrum for essential services such as public safety and other broadband services.
Digital signals also use less bandwidth than analog signals, and may also be compressed, putting even more data in the same space. The digital signal gives the flexibility of using a digital video recorder (DVR) to watch over-the-air programming whenever using advanced recording features. Viewers can pause live TV, fast forward and rewind programs.
The CRTC has mandated a switch in a number of mandatory markets, including the provincial capitals and cities with more than 300,000 in population as well as areas where a transmission is impeding cellular providers. Neither occurs in this area.