Comment Puls TV: Digital TV or Analog
Thursday, 14th July 2011
Media - Television
Privilege of digital television is no longer reserved exclusively for subscribers of pay satellite and cable platforms.
As of September 30th, 2010 first Poles can benefit from access to free digital television which offers good quality video and audio and broader portfolio of channels than analog did. Total switch-off of analog transmitters is planned till 31.07.2013.
However, more than two years before the date of completing digitalization, the state of knowledge about the process amongst Poles, raises concerns.
To date, 46% of viewers have access to channels from multiplexes (MUX-2 and MUX-3). The situation will improve in the second half of this year. Since mid-July, before schedule, transmission stations of MUX 2, are gradually broadening the reach all over Poland. Until 31/07/2011 it will be a test transmission, after that will go into regular broadcasting and cover 87 percent of population. Eventually - by the end of December 2013 - 97% of Poles will have access to digital terrestrial television. This means the possibility of free access to over 20 Polish TV channels in digital quality. It is an only such broad offer on the Polish market, which does not require any contracts or fixed fees.
Currently, digital and analog broadcasting operates in parallel, but in two years, Polish viewers will receive terrestrial television signals exclusively via digital technology. Replacing the transmission system is one of the requirements of the European Commission, aimed at providing all citizens of member countries with the highest quality television. In Poland, the Parliament passed the Broadcasting Act on May 13th, 2011 on the implementation of free digital terrestrial TV, which aims to provide a basis for the final analogue switch-off on 31 July 2013.
What are the benefits of digital television?
According to the National Council of Radio and Television (NCR&T) in Poland there are over 5 million households that receive television exclusively via analog terrestrial transmitters. They are the ones that will benefit most from digitization. But does the public know enough about upcoming terrestrial changes to take full advantage of the opportunity that the digitalization brings? Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) is an easily visible benefit for the viewer, enabling him to enjoy a high picture and sound quality and more channels available from terrestrial transmitters.
Digital broadcasting on the existing single analog channel can ‘pack’ a stream of up to eight of television programs. Such a stream of digital data, which thanks to the properly efficient compression allows to broadcast several programs, is called multiplex (MUX). In Poland, already two multiplexes launched; on MUX-2 seven programs are available (Polsat, Polsat Sport News, TVN, TVN7, TV Puls, TV4, TV6), and MUX-3 five (TVP1, TVP 2, TVP Info, TVP Kultura , BBC History). MUX-2 has also reserved space for Puls 2 channel (working name).
The first multiplex (MUX-1) still hasn’t started. Only in April this year, NCR&T decided that in addition to TVP1, TVP2, TVP Info it will have four new channels. After the recent changes they are: Polo TV (music), ESKA TV (music), ATM Entertainment TV (entertainment) and U-TV (information and current affairs and guides).
Digitisation is also a great opportunity for people who do not have access to some TV stations. Today, as much as 76 percent. Poles, using analogue terrestrial television, does not receive TV Puls, 52 percent TVN, and access to Polsat is banned from 15 percent. At the end of the process of digitization these problems should disappear.
DTT also offers access to additional features, previously known to subscribers of digital platforms and cable television. For example, instead of buying a traditional paper TV guide, one will be able to use the Electronic Program Guide (EPG). One can check on the TV screen the broadcast hour of a program and to read it’s description. EPG also provides a parental control feature, the ability to block selected programs from access to children. Those that do not appreciate voiceover in the movies will welcome DTT. They will be able to choose the original soundtrack and help oneself with subtitles, which will allow to polish language skills.
How to receive digital television?
In older TV sets to receive DTT channels, one will need to purchase a decoder - STB (set-top box), which makes the appropriate conversion of the digital signal into an analog signal. Importantly, the STB installation is very easy and requires no technical support of a specialists. Modern receivers are capable of receiving digital signal and do not require installation of any additional elements (in accordance with Polish regulations they must not only have the DVB-T tuner, but also built-in MPEG-4 decoder - H.264/AVC - because this compression format was chosen in Poland). It is worth mentioning that the above described adjustment of equipment is the only requirement that one must do in order to take full advantage of digital terrestrial television signal.
Digitisation is the next revolutionary change in television since its inception. We are witnessing this process, but still fall short of being it’s conscious participants.
Klaudiusz Gomerski, channel manager Puls 2, Telewizja Puls
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