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What Can You Expect from HDTV?

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RALEIGH — Television stations in the nation's top ten markets will begin broadcasting digital TV late this year. Viewers don't know exactly what to expect.

Some networks want to broadcast several "higher quality" signals, while others will broadcast only the "highest" quality with wide screen pictures and multi-channel sound. WRAL OnLine reporter Tom Lawrence helps sort out the differences.

Digital television is the next big step in the evolution of the medium. But digital means only that the signal will come to you, whether by broadcast, cable or satellite, in the computer code of ones and zeroes.

Jim Barry, of the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association, explains.

Listen toauorreal audiofiles."Now within digital TV, any television that has a picture resolution giving 720 lines of picture resolution, or greater up to the maximum of 1080 lines, will be high definition television."Barry says the public is confused, partially because of the FCC.

Listen toauorreal audiofiles."Within these digital broadcasts, the FCC didn't require that stations require any specific picture quality or even that they deliver the top picture quality they can deliver several different programs if they wish."Some stations want to broadcast several digital programs simultaneously in the present format.

WRAL-HD, the nation's first high definition station, has been test broadcasting more than a year. This is true high definition television -- wide screen, five channel sound and 1080 lines of resolution.

As TV sets begin showing up in stores, they will be labeled "DTV", but Barry says it's important to check to see what you are buying.

Listen toauorreal audiofiles."CEMA member manufacturers will deliver sets that will give you the capability of all those aspect ratios and they best picture quality."

Barry says consumer interest is high, but will explode when people begin watching sports and special events in the highest quality digital television, HDTV.

This November, stations in the top ten markets must begin broadcasting some digital programming. By November 1999, network stations in the top thirty markets, including the Triangle, must begin broadcasting digital signals.


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