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HDTV a Coming Reality

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RALEIGH — By now, you've likely heard about highdefinition television, but prepare yourself. The next couple of years willbring the reality of HDTV home.

The Federal Communications Commission has ordered all television broadcasters to switch over to a digital signal by the year 2006, andwhen that time comes, all the current state-of-the-art sets that now linestore shelves will be passe. HDTV will be taking over, and this changeraises many questions for consumers. Television salesman Bill Sessoms told WRAL-TV5'sMark Robertsthere's a lot of talkthesedays.

The excitement stems from the fact that HDTV's quality, video andaudio, eclipses that of today's analog sets, and the picture is muchlarger with a rectangular, instead of a square, screen.

Consumer Melinda Whitaker voices the concern of many when she wonderswhat the new technology will cost.

Consumer Frank McNally also has concerns about cost.

But before consumers begin to spend that money, broadcasters will bespending millions of dollars to convert to HDTV.

Capitol Broadcasting, which owns WRAL-TV5 and WRAL OnLine, was thefirst broadcast outlet to receive an HDTV license from the FCC, and broadcast the very first HDTV signal on July 23, 1996.

By the way, studies show that a household is likely to make a newtelevision purchase every eight years. With the conversion date set atnine years from now, it would probably not be a good idea to plan onbuying a digital set just yet.

Three of the largest names in personal computing are already makingplans for the switch to digital television.The Wall StreetJournalreports that Microsoft, Intel and Compaq are trying topersuade broadcasters to ensure digital tv contains internet-basedinformation services and interactivity.