Why is the TV broadcasting standard changing from analog to digital?

This is archived content from Digital TV Facts. For up-to-date information on the digital TV transition, see the federal government’s site, www.DTV2009.gov.

Congress passed legislation, beginning in 1996, mandating the change from analog to digital TV broadcasts.

The switch to digital TV promises several benefits:

• Viewers should notice improvements in picture and sound quality, particularly in the case of high-definition (HDTV) broadcasts. (To get the full effect, you’ll need a high-definition set, and the broadcaster and, if applicable, cable or satellite provider must provide a high-definition signal.)

• Digital transmissions make more efficient use of the broadcast spectrum, leaving more of the airwaves available for additional channels or interactive data services.

• When analog TV broadcasts end, broadcasters will return those frequencies to the federal government. Some have been pre-allocated to public-safety uses, including communications systems for police and fire departments. The government is likely to auction off much of the rest to wireless companies and others for commercial uses.

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