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Digital television transition around the world

   The digital television transition (also called the digital switchover (DSO) or analog switch off (ASO), sometimes analog  sunset  is the process in which analog television broadcasting   is converted to and replaced by digital television . This primarily involves both TV stations and over the air viewers; however it also involves content providers like TV networks, and cable TV conversion to digital cable.

The scale of the transition can vary  at one extreme, a small, transmitter can be converted to digital  and is normally conducted as a trial, although it can be a permanent change. At the other extreme, a whole country can be converted from analogue to digital television, which most recently occurred in Denmark in November 2009.

In many countries, a simulcast service is operated where a broadcast is made available to viewers in both analog and digital at the same time. As digital becomes more popular, it is likely that the existing analogue services will be removed. In some cases this has already happened, where a broadcaster has offered incentives to viewers to encourage them to switch to digital or simply switched their service regardless of whether they want to switch. In other cases government policies have been introduced to encourage or force the switchover process, especially with regard to terrestrial broadcasts.

Government intervention usually involves providing some funding for broadcasters and, in some cases monetary relief to viewers, to enable a switchover to happen by a given deadline.

The facility with which digital switchover can be achieved depends not only on the size of the area and number of transmitters to be converted, but also on the number of viewers who rely on the analogue signal as their primary or only means of TV reception. In Berlin  for example, most residents were using cable television , so only a small number of households needed the new equipment necessary for digital reception. On the other hand, only around 65% of UK households had access to multi-channel television as of summer 2005 This left around 10 million households who would be forced to convert to another means of receiving television by the time digital switchover reaches their area

Purpose of the transition  

      Almost all analog formats in current use were standardized between the 1940s and 1950s and have had to be adapted to the technological innovations since then. Initially offering only black & white images with monophonic sound, the formats have had to be modified to broadcast in colorstereo soundSAP, captioning, and other information all while being backwards compatible, with televisions unable to use the features. Additionally, engineers have had to implement these protocols within the limits of a set bandwidth and the tolerances of an inefficient analog format.

      However during this time, the application and distribution of digital communications evolved and proved to be a superior means to distribute the same content. A Digital television transmission is more efficient, easily integrating other digital processes, for features completely unavailable or unimaginable with analog formats.

§                     For the end-user, digital television has potential for resolutions and sound fidelity comparable with blu-ray home video and with digital multiplexing, it is also possible to offer sub channels , distinct simulcast programming, from the same broadcaster.

§                     For government and industry, digital television reallocates the radio spectrum so that can be auctioned off by the government. In the subsequent auctions, telecommunications industries can introduce new  services and products in  mobile telephony,wi-fi internet, and other nationwide telecommunications projects.

World map of digital television transition progress

        Transition completed, all analog signals terminated  

         Transition completed for full-power signals only; LPTV stations still being broadcast in analog  

         Transition in progress, broadcasting both analog and digital signals  

                   Transition not yet started, broadcasting analog signals only  


§                 §        Luxembourg  was the first country to complete the move to digital broadcasting on September 1, 2006

§   §                    Netherland  moved to digital broadcasting on December 11, 2006 The switch-off was helped greatly by the fact that about 90% of the households subscribe to cable systems which continue to use analog distribution, thus their old tuners continued to be useful.

§   §                    Finland ceased analog terrestrial transmissions nationwide at 4am, September 1,2007 (switch-off was previously planned for the midnight after August 31 but a few extra hours were added for technical reasons). Cable TV viewers continued to receive analogue broadcasts until the end of February 2008.

§  §                     Andorra completed its switch-off on September 25 , 2007

§ §                      Sweden : The switch-off of the analogue terrestrial network progressed region–by–region. It started on the island of Gotland on September 19 , 2005, and was completed on October 29 , 2007 , when the last analogue SVT1  transmitters in Blekinge  and western Scania  were shut down.  Cable distributors are allowed to continue broadcasting analogue television.

§  §                     Switzerland began with the switch-off on July 24 , 2006 in Ticino and continued with Engadin on November 13 , 2006 . The switch-off was completed on November 26, 2007.

§  §                     Belgium (Flanders): the situation is rather complex, as media regulations are under regional legislation. Flanders  switched off analogue television on November 32008 because coverage is already at 99 percent. 

§ §                      Germany  started the switch-off in the Berlin area, beginning on November 1, 2002 and completing on August 4 , 2003 . "Simulcast " digital transmissions started in other parts of the country in an effort to prepare for a full switchover. The switch-off of terrestrial analogue transmitters was completed on November 25 , 2008 , except one main transmitter in Bad Mergentheim which was shut down in June 2009. Analogue cable and satellite broadcasts remain available for the time being; the public brodcasters announced to switch of those services in 2012.

§  §                     United States ended all full-power analog broadcasts at midnight on June  12, 2009 . Low power television stations continue to be broadcast in analog in several areas until their final analog shutoff dates, which are yet to be determined. The United States is the first non-European nation to switch off analog signals.

§  §                     Isle of Man  switched off all analog services on July 16 , 2009

      Denmark switched off all analog services at midnight on November 1, 2009

Transition in progress

§ §                      Australia : Digital television commenced in Australia's five most populous cities on 1 January 2001. The Australian government originally planned a switch-off of analog TV in 2008. This has now been delayed to 2010 for some regional areas and to 2013 for the rest of the country. Until that time, free-to-air stations will be simulcast, along with digital-only channels like ABC2. Since 1999, legislation has required all locally made free-to-air television transmissions to be in 16:9 widescreen format. Cable television networks began simulcasting in 2004 and analog cable services were switched off in April 2007.

§  §                     Austria  began analogue switch-off on March 5 , 2007, progressing from the west to the east .

§  §                    Bulgaria will complete its analog switch-off in December 2012.

§  §                     Brazil began free-to-air HD digital transmissions, after a period of test broadcasts, on December 2, 2007 in Săo Paulo, expanding in January 2008 to Brasília,Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte Digital broadcasts will be phased into the other 23 state capitals by the end of 2009, and to the remaining cities by December 31, 2013 Analogue and digital simulcasts will continue until June 29 , 2016 , when analogue will be discontinued. The main broadcasters (Globo ,Record , Band , SBT and RedeTV! ) are simulcasting in analogue and digital broadcast, in standard definition and 1080i high definition

§  §                     Belgium  (Wallonia Flanders switched off analogue television on November 3 2008 But Wallonia has not yet announced a date and is expected to follow the European dates because of geographic difficulties in covering the whole region. In Wallonia, there is already an 80 percent DTT coverage.

§ §                      Canada: The main FTA broadcasters (CBC, CTV, and Global) have launched HD streams of their programming in limited markets such as Toronto and Vancouver. On May 17, 2007, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC, Canada's broadcasting authority) ruled that television stations would be forced to switch to ATSC digital broadcasting by August 31 2011 with minor exceptions in remote areas where analogue transmissions will not cause interference. As of May 2007 there were fewer than 20 digital television stations in Canada

Unlike in the other countries, Canada originally was allowing the market to determine when the analogue switch-off begins. As a result, while analogue and digital broadcasts currently co-exist, digital transmission penetration is still low, and the only way to receive Canadian digital TV in most areas is via cable or satellite TV. In Toronto it is possible to pick up DTV over the air; in Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec City a partial set of channels (most often CBC only) are offered – primarily as a vehicle for limited HDTV deployments. About one-half of Canadian homes have over-the-air access to high-powered US  border stations, all of which offer ATSC DTV. New TV's and DVD recorders  often include ATSC tuners but are not required to do so; retail-store availability of basic converters for existing NTSC TV's is limited  

  §§ Chile: the switch-off will be completed in 2018.

§§       Colombia: plans to close down analogue on January 1, 2020.

§ §      Croatia: plans to close down analogue broadcasting in 2010.

§§       Costa Rica: plans to close down analogue for in December, 2018.

§§     Czech Republic: started the switch-off in September 2007 and should finish by November 2011 (some regions June 2012). The areas of Domažlice  West Bohemia, Prague, Central Bohemia, and South Bohemia have already switched off analog broadcasting of ČT2.

§§       Dominican Republic:

§ §      El Salvador  The target date is January 1, 2014.

§ §      Estonia: In Estonia analog switch-off date has been set for July 1st 2010 France will have completed the switch-off in November 2011. 80% of the population will be able to see TNT n 2008.

§§       Greece: the switch-off will complete after the end of 2011

§ §      Hong Kong  analogue broadcasting is planned to be switched off by 2012

§ §      Hungary is scheduled to switch off analogue broadcasting on January 1, 2012.

§ §      Ireland's broadcaster RTÉ plans to make digital television available to most of the population by 2010.  and the switch off is planned to be complete by 2012.

§ §      Italy: the deadline for the transition to digital broadcasting is December 31, 2012, as enacted by Italian law

§ §      Japan is also running an intense nationwide campaign announcing the planned switchover to digital terrestrial and satellite television on July 24, 2011. Analogue high-television broadcast ended on September 30, 2007. Many television stations across the country have already begun broadcasting simultaneously in digital.

§ §      Kenya's Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) announced that the country will start digital broadcasting in 2008 following preliminary work by the government. Kenya will be among the first countries in Africa to implement digital broadcasting

§  §     Mexico has a 20-year plan to switch, with the target year of 2022 for the analogue shut-off. Some digital signals are already on-air, the first being Tijuana's ETV – an English-language affiliate of The CW serving primarily San Diego, California. Groups of cities which are required to simulcast digitally are added in descending order of size, with full coverage of the smallest centres required for 2021.

§§       Malaysia: Information Ministry was planning to shut down the country's analogue television system in phases beginning from 2012 and set to convert to full digital TV in 2015.

§ §     New Zealand: It was announced on the November 29, 2007 that the analogue TV broadcasts will end within the next 6 to 10 years and expect a switch off date to be announced by 2012. Digital broadcast via Freeview become available late 2007. More recent estimates of this switch-off date have been in the area of 2013 to 2015 A tentative date will be set when digital uptake reaches 60% (55% reached as of November 2008).

§ §      Norway: The switch-off of the analogue transmissions started in March 2008 and will progress region-by-region. The last analogue transmitters are scheduled to close down by the end of 2009.

§ §      Poland: The analog broadcast will stop on either December 12, 2012 or in 2014

§ §      Portugal's government aims to complete the digital switchover by 2012; digital broadcasts started on April 29, 2009. Portugal's government hopes to cover 80% of the territory with DTV by the end of 2009, and simulcasts will remain until 2012

§§       Peru plans to close down analogue in July 28, 2020. On air with ISDB-T from March 2010

§§       Philippines the National Telecommunications Commission will terminate all analogue television transmission on December 31, 2015. Digital television in the Philippines will be launched by ABS-CBN in 2009 using either DVB-T or ISDB-T.

§ §      Romania is scheduled to switch off analogue broadcasting in January 1, 2012.

§§       Russia as announced that the switch-off is to be completed in 2015

§ §      Serbia: first launched DTT-only Channel in 2008. First DTT transmissions are launched in 2005. 0 The government aims to complete ASO by 2011

§§       Slovakia: the government aims to complete the digital switchover by 2012.

§ §      Slovenia: the switch-off will be completed in 2010.

§ §      South Africa: started simultaneous digital and analogue broadcasting in November 2008 in preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Switch-off has not yet begun but is scheduled for completion by mid 2011.

§ §      South Korea's analogue transmissions will be terminated nationwide on December 31, 2012, and major broadcasters like MBC, SBS or other affiliated networks, KBS are broadcasting both analog and digital TV in most major cities.

§§       Spain: the switch-off will be completed on or before April 3, 2010

§ §      Ukraine: analogue transmissions will be terminated on July 17, 2015. Switch-over commenced on April 1, 2009.

§§       United Kingdom: Following a technical trial in a small community in Wales on March 30, 2005, the "digital switchover" began in the UK on October 17, 2007 with Whitehaven in Cumbria and is proceeding to a transmitter switchover timetable implemented by region. The last transmitters are London, Tyne Tees and luster, that will be switched off by March 2013The process is managed by Digital UK, with some viewers eligible for the Digital Switchover Help Scheme.  


                   The Planning commission's Working group on Information & Broadcasting report for the 11th  Five year Plan has stressed on the importance of and the need to establish HDTV ,which enables delivery of better quality pictures to viewers homes and is considered as an importance area in upcoming technologies. Doordarshan Plans to formally introduce HDTV in the country by 2010 so that Indian TV viewers can receive the Commonwealth Games in HDTV. The Central government believes that HDTV format is fast catching up globally and needs to be established for the telecast of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi before 2010 and later across the country. 

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