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Australia Television The Media

Final Days For Australia's Analog TV 192

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the enjoy-your-three-digital-stations dept.
jones_supa writes "The switch to digital TV broadcasts in Australia has entered its final few days, with Sydney's analog signals being fully switched off today, 3 December. That just leaves Melbourne plus remote central and eastern Australia — and those areas will be switched over on 10 December, completing the country's transition to digital TV. The government runs an information site to assist the remaining crusty luddites with the switch-over."
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Final Days For Australia's Analog TV

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  • by sconeu (64226) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @01:07AM (#45581211) Homepage Journal

    Analog degrades better if you're on the fringe.

    Digital is pretty much "all or nothing", with freezes, posterizing, etc.. if you've got a bad signal.

    If you've got a bad analog signal, you'll get snow and static, but you'll still be able to see what's happening.

    • by _merlin (160982)

      Well, on a good night I can tune Wollongong digital channels from Elizabeth Bay. I could never get Wollongong analog channels at all. But it's very much all-or-nothing - either I get Wollongong or I don't, never get a snowy but watchable picture. I don't actually have a digital-capable TV, only a USB tuner that I rarely use. I don't really miss TV.

    • We can see what's happening in all its grainy, 576i goodness.
    • by mjwx (966435) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @01:36AM (#45581349)

      Analog degrades better if you're on the fringe.

      Digital is pretty much "all or nothing", with freezes, posterizing, etc.. if you've got a bad signal.

      If you've got a bad analog signal, you'll get snow and static, but you'll still be able to see what's happening.

      But digital goes further, so if you're on the fringe of an analogue signal, you'll get a decent digital signal (well, as long as they're being transmitted from the same approximate location).

      • by Anonymous Coward

        But digital goes further, so if you're on the fringe of an analogue signal, you'll get a decent digital signal (well, as long as they're being transmitted from the same approximate location).

        Indeed. I don't know what they'll be using in Australia, but here in the US, 8-vsb transmits 1 error correction bit for every 2 data bits. I live in a small town in a valley that's 30 miles from the nearest television transmitter. Previously we had television signals so weak you couldn't stand to watch them for more than 15 minutes before the static drove you insane. Now that we've gone digital, the channels are crystal clear.

        It is annoying when MythTV records a show on one of the weaker channels at a b

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Static (1229)

          Indeed. I don't know what they'll be using in Australia, but here in the US, 8-vsb transmits 1 error correction bit for every 2 data bits. I live in a small town in a valley that's 30 miles from the nearest television transmitter.

          Australia uses DVB-T which has different propagation characteristics than 8VSB. DVB-T makes it easier to do SFN (single frequency network) because it resists multi-path interference (ghosting in the analogue world) better whilst 8VSB has a better power dispersal profile, which means larger coverage areas from one antenna.

      • by imidan (559239)

        I live in a small town in the western US. I used to get four channels over the air on a good day with analog. Now, I get one. Not saying you're wrong, but I think people in more rural areas suffer more when the analog signal is cut.

        • by mjwx (966435)

          I live in a small town in the western US. I used to get four channels over the air on a good day with analog. Now, I get one. Not saying you're wrong, but I think people in more rural areas suffer more when the analog signal is cut.

          Referring to Australia only. The digital signal has a greater range than the older analogue signals (different frequencies and signal strengths). This may be different in your neck of the woods, as they may use worse frequencies (or probably in your case, change the transmission sites completely).

        • by NVW55V (994264) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @03:11AM (#45581609)

          Get or build a better antenna. And put it up higher, and point it in the right direction. Use a signal amplifier. These things work.

          • A good preamp with a low noise floor will help (something in the 3dB or lower range), just make sure it doesn't have too much gain and includes an FM trap if they are some near stations.

            SN/R is more important than signal strength with digital OTA (at least with 8VSB)

          • by Obfuscant (592200)

            Get or build a better antenna. And put it up higher, and point it in the right direction.

            I think you're missing the point. I live in a small city halfway between the two major markets. With a small whip inside antenna I used to get all the networks. Today, I get two channels of OPB (PBS). That's only because there is an OPB station on top of the hill just north of my house.

            Having to put up a high, directional antenna instead of using a simple piece of wire inside is pretty good proof that the digital signals don't go as far or cover as well as the old analog ones.

            I could actually live with a

            • by Darinbob (1142669)

              Plus putting up better antennas is a non-starter for many people who rely on broadcast, poorer people who can't afford it, renters, or the elderly who can't go up on the roofs.

          • You can build the best TV antenna on the planet because it is free and free:

            http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/08/03/14/2021223/hobbyists-create-gpled-diy-super-tv-antenna [slashdot.org]

            Several variants have been developed that suit specific needs, such as UHF-only, UHF with VHF, and a variety of other local and International requirements.

        • by niftymitch (1625721) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @04:14AM (#45581759)

          I live in a small town in the western US. I used to get four channels over the air on a good day with analog. Now, I get one. Not saying you're wrong, but I think people in more rural areas suffer more when the analog signal is cut.

          Tell us more about your antenna.

          I wonder if your "old" antenna is tuned for channel bands that are
          not the bands used for digital.

          There are some darn fine antenna designs on the internet
          that can be made with Cu wire and a tape measure. The
          first step is knowing the frequency bands you wish to watch.

          A well tuned antenna is the first band pass filter to select the
          signal for the receiver to dig data from.

          • by Pope (17780)

            I use the exact same 'rabbit-ears' for digital that I used for analog, the frequency range in US & Canada is identical. What's mainly happened is the need for a more directional antenna to pick up the US stations, for where I am anyway.

            • analog channels were mostly on VHF (better propagation around obstacles). Digital is mostly on UHF where it's pretty much line-of-sight

              • by ncc74656 (45571) *

                analog channels were mostly on VHF (better propagation around obstacles). Digital is mostly on UHF where it's pretty much line-of-sight

                There's still lots of digital TV on VHF. In Las Vegas, for instance, five of the local broadcasters are on VHF. One of them (KSNV) is even on low-band VHF.

                • In Australia the move to digital has meant they could consolidate channel frequencies. Previously we had channels 2, 7, 9, 10, 28 and 31. Now all broadcast happens in the frequencies of channels 6-12. I'm in Brisbane which has been digital only for a while. This means one can get a smaller antenna with better gain as it only listens on a narrower range.

                  My parents used to receive one station on channel 0 and the rest in UHF. Digital has moved all stations to the same 6 channel UHF block, so they can now take

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          Seems improbable. Digital TV channels are multiplexed together, so one frequency carries multiple channels. If you can receive one okay then you should be able to get all the others on the same multiplex okay as well, since they are just different chunks of data in the same stream.

          What is your explanation for this?

          • by Obfuscant (592200)

            Seems improbable. Digital TV channels are multiplexed together, so one frequency carries multiple channels.

            CAN carry multiple channels. Doesn't mean they have to or that they always do.

            If you can receive one okay then you should be able to get all the others on the same multiplex okay as well, since they are just different chunks of data in the same stream. What is your explanation for this?

            Perhaps the simplest explanation really is the simplest explanation: four different analog channels migrated to four different digital channels, not four data streams on the same channel.

            Out here in the wild west, most of the big network stations were too enamored of all the digital real estate they were being given by the FCC to ever let anyone else play in their sandbox. It was only the wanna-bees like CW and FOX that combine

          • I know that I have some channels with 10 subchannels, and some channels with just 1. Maybe the frequency they're receiving is one of the ones that doesn't have multiple signals multiplexed into it?
        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          I'm suspicious of broadcasters though. They may not be converting all their transmitters in order to save costs, or not optimizing coverage areas, especially with declining ad revenue from more remote areas because so many former viewers have switched to cable/satellite. You see this with mobile phone service and internet too, the "last mile" is often ignored.

      • by Mashiki (184564)

        But digital goes further, so if you're on the fringe of an analogue signal, you'll get a decent digital signal (well, as long as they're being transmitted from the same approximate location).

        Might hold true in some places where either if you're on a hill, or it's very flat. In say most of Southern Ontario outside of a major city like London, K/W, or Toronto most people lost 1/3 to 1/2 of the US stations they used to have and picked up some they never had before. I know a few people who are able to get 40 channels in digitial in Toronto, my friends down in Brownsville/Verschoyle Woodstock/Ingersoll/Beachville used to get 15 US, they get 3 US now.

        • by quetwo (1203948)

          A lot of that has to do with the channels being moved around more than digital vs. analog. During the move the FCC sold off a large portion of the VHF spectrum to the cellular companies. This moved a lot of the high-propagation stations to UHF with much smaller viewing areas. At the same time, the FCC sold off the higher end of the UHF spectrum which moved all the channels that had sketchy portions of the frequency down, causing their areas in some cases to double. In our area (Lansing, MI), we lost all o

          • by gravis777 (123605)

            With these channels moving around, it is also feasable that the broadcasting power is not as high, to keep from bleeding over onto channels aired from other areas. This was especially true before the transition, when you had both analogue and digital channels. After the switch over, only a couple of channels do I get stronger signals on - some are still giving me less than 60% of the signal (although most are now at 98% or better). What is sad is I live less than 15 miles from "broadcast hill" with a clear

        • by Pope (17780)

          They just need a directional antenna. I have line of sight to the CN Tower, so the Canadian channels come in fine. Buffalo's at least 90 degrees out from there where I am. Use the mapping tool on http://www.tvfool.com/ [tvfool.com] to see what you need.

      • How much range you get depends on how much power the broadcaster is using. Maybe it's that way for you in Australia, but not generally in the US. My mom had a weak analog signal for the channels she cared most about (US public broadcasting), but the sound was ok and if the pictures were fuzzy, most of the programs were just talking heads anyway. When they switched to digital, they were probably putting out less power, but the important problem was that the audio would cut in and out; the pictures were al

      • Analog degrades better if you're on the fringe.

        Digital is pretty much "all or nothing", with freezes, posterizing, etc.. if you've got a bad signal.

        If you've got a bad analog signal, you'll get snow and static, but you'll still be able to see what's happening.

        But digital goes further, so if you're on the fringe of an analogue signal, you'll get a decent digital signal (well, as long as they're being transmitted from the same approximate location).

        In theory. I live probably less than 10 miles from a major transmitter farm, but since it went digital, I have to be a lot more careful about fiddling with the antenna or the whole thing blues out, audio and all. And hi-fi audio is usually the last thing to go.

        Sadly, shortly before the digital switch I'd discovered an interesting analog channel from a distant metro area. It was just at that point where you could get a snowy-but-watchable image. All gone now.

    • by evilviper (135110)

      No, no, no, no!
      As someone perpetually out in the fringes, allow me to correct this misconception once again...

      Before the analog went away, nobody around here used an antenna. I bought my Winegard 8800 and Antennacraft Y10-7-13 antennas during the long transition. Of course I checked out the analog stations while I was at it... They were horrendous. Sure, you could tell that there was a signal there, but it was only barely perceptible that there were sharp edges and lines burried somewhere in the static

      • by thegarbz (1787294)

        Problems with the transition to digital broadcasts are self-made, and makes me think we should have skipped it and dropped broadcast TV entirely. Either let it improve and succeed, or kill it entirely...

        The problems aren't self made, they disappear when they are self solved. The GP is right, but yet so are you. In many implementations digital does have better coverage than analogue but that has far more to do with technology enhancements, changes in transmission power, and changes in spectrum than anything else. An analogue signal is intelligible for a longer distance than a digital one with all other elements staying the same and cause less interference to neighbouring bands too.

        Places which like for lik

    • It is all about the payload of that signal. The big Australian media companies are deliberately making sure that the programming they show OTA (Over The Air) in DVB-T digital quality is actually inferior to the quality of the same programming shown over paid-for (satellite, cable) feeds. Typically the subtitles and surround sound are stripped from the OTA signal, and there are claims that downconverting is taking place as well.

    • by Culture20 (968837)
      The worst is when you almost lose signal for a fraction of a second. No pixelation, just a slight screen freeze, but now the video and audio are desynced by that fraction until you reboot your television.
      • by Politburo (640618)
        That sounds like a problem with your receiver. Back when I was using the free boxes, that would happen sometimes, but it was cleared up by changing the channel.
    • by giorgist (1208992)
      Yea but you can get many more digital signals with the energy of a single analogue signal. Which means with the energy of a degraded analogue signal you can still get a perfect digital signal. In the reverse case, by the time the digital signal is failing, had you had an analogue signal there you would be getting absolutely nothing.
    • by antdude (79039)

      Also, audio works too if it is bad.

    • This, and UHF is less forgiving of obstacles. UHF is pretty much LOS. When NBC and CBS moved from VHF(RF3 and RF5) to UHF, I lost them because I've got buildings between the antenna and Mt. Mansfield.

      The only advantage is the antenna is *way* smaller than the old fishbone monsters.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Yes, that was the problem with my mother's TV in the US. She could get several channels wtih analog, and most of them had a bit of snow but still very watchable. Switch to digital broadcast and suddenly she was only picking up a couple in English. The surprise is that some channels that previously had come in well were not coming in at all in digital. I think some broadcasters just weren't bothering to optimize their coverage. So she went with satellite TV just to watch "local" shows.

  • For those who don't know... digital tv is this thing that superseded analog tv too long ago to remember in your country...
    • For those who don't know... digital tv is this thing that carries the same mindless, retarded, idiotic, uninteresting programs as analog tv, only it's digital.

    • by muphin (842524)
      you're saying this on... slashdot...???
      i think geeks know more than the drones out there... if you are here and dont know what Digital TV is... i pitty you
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've had more signal problems with digital TV than I ever did with analog -- things like a Charter cable commercial talking about its quality when the image of the spokesman's face had been broken and reassembled more than any synthetic cubist painting, or channels simply going missing for hours (albeit I think that one's a bug in the unit decoding the signal, not something everyone would necessarily experience). I suppose one of these days I'll appreciate the wonders of this particular technological progre

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Get a better amplified antenna and aim it correctly. Putting it in the window will help.

  • Moved down in 2004 and they were talking about the imminent shut off then.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Digital - everything has to go through their pipes.

    Analog - you can get an antenna and tune in to non-official sources.

    Don't take my word for it, come to Singapore and see if you can view Malaysian or Indonesian channels via the digital channels. (hint: you cannot).

    • Not only that, but with digital TV, they know what you watch and when. With analog TV, they don't. Knowning who watches what and when is a very, VERY valuable business model - just ask Google...

    • Digital TV is broadcast over the air just like analog. If you can't get something you used to be able to, it's probably because you were receiving a weak signal. Analog will degrade gracefully but digital will just drop out.
    • by jibjibjib (889679)

      I don't know what system they're using in Singapore (or whether perhaps your inability to tune particular channels is just an issue of signal strength), but digital TV in general is not some conspiracy to control information.

      Anyone with the right equipment can transmit a digital TV signal, and anyone with a TV and an antenna can receive it. Just like analog.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      Digital - everything has to go through their pipes.

      Analog - you can get an antenna and tune in to non-official sources.

      Don't take my word for it, come to Singapore and see if you can view Malaysian or Indonesian channels via the digital channels. (hint: you cannot).

      Erm, you don know that they cant actually stop an over the air signal.

      The only thing stopping you from receiving Malaysian broadcasts over the air is that your equipment cant receive it.

      Considering that if I mounted a satellite dish on my roof in Perth, Western Australia I can pick up satellite broadcasts from as far away as Italy (with a big enough dish). A pirate digital signal would still work in Singapore, as would Malaysian digital signals, you just need the right equipment to pick it up. Sorry b

      • that's not entirely true, there's a lot more fringe stuff like the multi-language channels and the NITV indigenous channel, especially on SBS and ABC. getting a 12 hr a day kids feed on ABC 2 is pretty useful, and a couple of 24 hr news channels that actually seem OK would probably be a boon if i bothered watching that stuff. not saying it's really increased my viewing time but it does actually make tv more useful.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    even though I haven't lived in Australia since I was a kid, nor do i watch TV at all, it made me a little sad to see:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8q_S0Fk3dyM

    I especially like how they played the 'go to bed kids' b&w clip and then the simulated 'switching off the CRT' images. Can't imagine how many grannies in sydney are bashing their TV trying to figure out what made it switch off.

    • Mod parent up. That video shows the "goodbye clip" they played and how the transmitter is chucked off.
  • Everything is on the internet without adverts.
    • I agree... However the old farts don't.
      • by c0lo (1497653)

        I agree... However the old farts don't.

        Incorrect!!! Even the old farts are without ads on the internet!
        (if your favorite fart isn't yet on... say... TPB, just be patient: is only a matter of time someone will upload a torrent or magnet to an ad-free fart)

        (grin)

  • Especially the Sunshine Coast Region, where I live. The cheapskates put in Single Frequency Networks and some channels just aren't working. There's other problems, too. Even people with a clear line-of-sight to the tower need masthead amplifiers. At least I can get the ABC and SBS channels, but I mostly watch streaming stuff from ABC's iview and SBS OnDemad, anyway.

  • And yet another slashdot article on TV where half of the comments are reminiscent of a 13 year old Onion article [theonion.com]. We get it; you're a hipster dipshit. Go tell someone who cares.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You know what's really funny? That you posted that without actually looking for posts about not owning a TV. There's one asking "who still watches TV?" and one that casually mentions not watching TV, that were posted before your comment. That's the closest you get. If you'd at least written "half the comments will be" you'd have gotten away with making a bad prediction. But you didn't. Instead, you admitted that you didn't look at the comments and just sarcastically posted a link to a 13 year old Onion arti

  • This is interesting to watch for anyone like me who doesn't have a TV, and therefore, didn't catch the end.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJaft0a5VXc

  • I didn't/wouldn't notice.
  • Now if only the broadcasters would use the HD stream to carry HD content we might have some net gain out of the process. The little 1080i material is generally upscaled SD and/or crippled by a low bit rate to accommodate yet another SD TV shopping/trash TV stream. ABC News 24 is 720p, SBS HD is upscaled SD simulcast, Gem is upscaled reruns and shopping, 7Mate is trash TV for "blokes", One HD is M*A*S*H and Get Smart reruns in glorious 1080i

    • by imroy (755)
      I saw an amazing example of how the stations screw up their use of HD just a few months ago. Channel Ten was showing a live F1 race on One in SD, while their HD channel was showing Fast Foward (or Full Frontal?) from the 90's upscaled to 1080p. Wow.
  • "Digital killed the analog star..."

  • by enter to exit (1049190) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @04:16AM (#45581763)
    In Australia we have an government initiative called VAST (Viewer Access Satellite Television). Essentially, If you live in a rural area and have trouble getting OTA signals, they'll subsidize the cost of a satellite dish+decoder.

    All the OTA channels are put up on the Optus C1 satellite and depending on your location they'll unlock the channels you're meant to get in your area.

    I see no reason why this can't be extended to non-rural areas on a house-by-house basis.
    • That doesn't surprise me.

      Australia is a fairly big country with large expanses of nothing where free-to-air satellite makes perfect sense. On the other hand, here in the US . . . oh, wait . . .

  • by fa2k (881632)

    In Norway they used the digital switchover as a chance to turn all (3 or 4ish) channels but the state broadcaster into payed channels, and they added a lot of new channels. They turned a somewhat credible free TV system with no setup cost into something useless. Now, either you like TV and have to pay, or most others don't really care and won't even bother to set up the free channel.

    Digital is probably good overall, if it can free up some spectrum, but new technology certainly exposes how people can be gree

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