DURHAM, June 7, 2002 - New Hampshire Public Television viewers throughout Northern New Hampshire can now experience stunning, photo-quality images and concert hall sound through the station's second digital television (DTV) transmitter, WLED-DT, channel 48, in Littleton. Since September 2000, NHPTV has been serving Northern New England with DTV broadcasts on channel 57 from its Deerfield transmitter site. A third digital station, WEKW in Keene, should be transmitting in early 2003.Like the change from black-and-white to color, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandated transition to DTV broadcasting marks a significant improvement in technology. "It is turbo-charged television producing sharper, richer, more engaging picture and sound quality and more viewing excitement. We're pleased to offer the quality of DTV, free of charge," said Brian Shepperd, NHPTV's Director of Engineering and Information Technology.There are two types of DTV broadcasts, High-Definition Television (HDTV) and Standard-Definition Television (SDTV). HDTV has five times the picture resolution of older analog television, producing 16x9 widescreen images as sharp as film, accompanied by Dolby Digital audio. When not broadcasting in HDTV, stations can multicast up to four SDTV programs simultaneously."Digital television and multicasting are a perfect fit for public stations like NHPTV because they provide the opportunity to broadcast several program streams simultaneously," noted Shepperd. "We now have the potential to serve our audience with targeted children's, educational, or community programming all at the same time.""During primetime viewing hours, we can switch to high definition programming," Shepperd continued. "Currently we offer a variety of high definition PBS programming on all our Digital TV stations from 7-9 PM weekdays and from 1-9 PM on the weekends."The DTV signal can be received at home in three ways. Viewers can purchase a widescreen HDTV monitor that has a DTV tuner built in or that will connect to a set-top box with component outputs. Viewers can also purchase a DTV tuner card for use on a computer monitor. A third option involves installing a set-top box to an existing TV and VCR, although it will not allow true HDTV picture quality. Stations around the country have invested millions of dollars in the federally-mandated DTV transition. Once complete, local broadcasters will return their analog spectrum to the public for other uses, such as advanced wireless services. The FCC has mandated that all stations in the U.S. begin broadcasting in digital by May 2003, continuing to broadcast in both digital and analog until 2006. If, at that time, DTV has reached a penetration of 85 percent of US households the analog transmitters will be shut down and DTV will become the sole official TV broadcast standard in this country. Existing analog TVs and VCRs will not be made obsolete although they will require a converter to receive DTV broadcast after the required conversion.
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