DTV Transition – 530 days and counting

September 6, 2007

The question as it was posted by “Bob” is a good one. Thankfully I hang my hat in both the broadcast and consumer electronics industries (…and broadband) so I think I can answer it.

Bob asks:

Here’s a question for you, Chief. Do some stations broadcast their digital channels at a lower power than their analog channel? Here in my neck of the woods, I get all the digital channels with no problem, but I have read other HDTV related sites where folks have problems getting the HD channel of a station though they can readily get the analog channel.

I assume that the FCC allows each station a certain power output maximum. Did this maximum increase with the advent of digital TV or does a station have to split its allotted output power among all its channels?

My answer:

Bob’s first question is a good one. Do some stations throttle back a bit on their digital power from time-to-time? Probably. Many? Doubtful. However, we are in the throws of an historic, perhaps epic transition from analog to digital broadcasting. No one can look to the broadcast industry and offer anything but praise for the job they have done. Bob’s second question is an even better one. Do stations have to split their allotted output power among channels? Good question! The good news is that whether you are getting content from 9.1 or 9.2 or 9.3, and so on it is all broadcast at the same power. For broadcasters, though a few have said they’d rather not turn off their analog, February 17, 2009 will be the end of paying twice for the electrical power needed to do both analog and digital.