Government mandating digital television

The possibilities began to seem endless: "Instead of 'Good Morning America,' think of 'Good Morning, Diane,' " with customized headlines and video clips and "special interests, downloaded to your TV at night," MIT futurist Nicholas Negroponte theorized in an interview with the trade magazine Electronic Media in 1997.

Negroponte, an adviser to the broadcast industry's chief lobbying group, the National Association of Broadcasters, had plenty of other ideas for digital broadcasts: interactive chats with famous people, "on-demand" pay television services (which cable wound up offering, but broadcasters never did), even cellphone service via the local TV stations' digital broadcast towers. Smith, president of Sinclair Broadcast Group, told a congressional panel that digital signals could someday be subdivided so that one part of a region received news of local interest while another part of the region saw its "own" newscast.

With digital broadcasts, the TV -- or perhaps the PCTV -- would become a shopping portal, an information node, an Internet-surfing console. After years of development, billions of dollars of investment and one fiendishly complex conversion program, all the nation's broadcast TV stations will go digital by Friday, the government-mandated deadline.

Thanks to digital's limitless interactive capabilities, you'd be able to call up player stats during ballgames, play video games with people across the country or take college-level courses from your couch. The traditional analog system of broadcasting -- used since TV's invention in the 1920s -- will fade out.

"This is really going to be the next big thing," he says.The Washington area's 12 region-wide stations are providing an additional 14 stations, including three offering local weather forecasts. -- the net impact of the digital conversion will be a few more channels and the chance to see Mr. The brave new world of digital broadcasting turned out to be modest because "broadcasters never really tried to innovate," says Joel Brinkley, a Stanford University journalism professor.One of the WJLA (Channel 7) digital channels features reruns of old TV shows, such as "The A-Team." So after enduring loads of hassle -- coupons! Brinkley, who chronicled the development of HDTV as a New York Times reporter and in his 1997 book "Defining Vision: The Battle for the Future of Television," adds, "No one expected all 1,500 TV stations to cook up something creative and innovative, but the wonder of it is that none of them did." Why?Asked last week for a list of the interactive services that newly digital TV stations will be providing in their communities, the NAB said it couldn't name any.Instead, TV broadcasters are using their digital powers simply to broadcast more TV shows, albeit in crisper digital format.

Leave a Reply