The Digital Television Revolution

The 2012 London Olympics actually brought home to me just what a enormous technological leap in electronic media has occurred during the past couple of years. There’s been significant progress in digital compression and transmission.

This year, along with high definition broadcast, which made its appearance from the 2008 Beijing games, 3D television was also added to the lineup, offering more channels and options. With analogue television broadcast almost becoming extinct, digital televisions promise of delivering more for less is becoming a reality.

Before the digital switchover, analogue television was source hungry concerning the amount of bandwidth necessary to carry a single station.

This limited the amount of channels that might be transmitted, since there’s a limited amount of spectrum that has to be shared with other services like radio and two way communications.

Digital Television
Digitial television

What the electronic standards of ATSC (North America) and DVB (Rest of the World) provided was the ability to reuse the present analogue spectrum better. This meant a normal 8 MHz carrier used for analogue broadcast could be converted into DVB-T (Digital Video – Terrestrial) which makes it feasible to carry 9 standard definition channels or 3 HD channels and one SD channel for the identical amount of bandwidth.

It would have required in excess of 70 MHz of frequency spectrum to accomplish this with the older analogue standard. Besides squeezing more channels into less space, digital tv is significantly clearer and does not suffer from ghosting or other artifacts that troubled analogue systems.

Becoming electronic also allows other features like enhanced digital audio, digital program guide and subtitle support to be included.

Televisions are offered with the digital decoder incorporated and older televisions may use another set top box. As technology advances, we’ll also see improvements in the compression methods used, which means more content for electronic media, already that has enabled 3D broadcasts for some events like the Olympics.

The Future

Finally as fibre to the home is deployed globally, the IP enabled set top box will replace the DVB standard, because the IP set top box has a distinct advantage over digital broadcast technologies, especially multicast join requests. Unlike DVB-T or DVB-S, IP multicast enables the recipient to send a join message to the system for the desired channel then when the petition is successful the broadcast is sent to the recipient, only the bandwidth to the requested channel is utilized. Together with the DVB standard, all available channels are being broadcast simultaneously, and the station count is restricted by the finite quantity of channel bandwidth whatever the compression techniques used.

But, unlike DVB, IP set top boxes need to be worried about latency and QOS, because there’s traffic contention with both residential broadband and IP Telephony. A badly implemented IPTV deployment can act like analogue television in an over subscribed service provider network, unless the right traffic management is in place.

High Definition

Today HD is seen as premium content by the majority of operators and is billed at a higher rate than SD (Standard Definition). But over time this will change as people upgrade their televisions to HD versions. In 720p broadcast, the image is created of 720 horizontal scan lines and a vertical resolution of 1280 pixels, which has the benefit that one framework represents a whole image.

HDTV logo
HDTV logo

In 1080i broadcast, the image is created from two 540 horizontal scanning images that when combined create 1080 lines. Most modern televisions support playback of 1080p, which is more desirable than 1080i particularly in fast moving sequences where motion blur could be gotten. But on modern televisions that the difference is barely discernible.

Originally the people uptake of HD was slow, the recipients were expensive and the accessible content was restricted. HD television has been an evolution as opposed to a radical change for most of us and this is also true of digital television generally. However, it’s unfortunate that technology will not help to enhance the content.

The Everlasting Popularity of Doctor Who

The longevity of a tv series nowadays is maybe a few seasons. Rarely is it seen a series last over five decades. Times change and interests change and due to this, loyal television followers will leave a series if it moves in a way they’re no longer familiar with or if personalities change and they no longer feel connected. But how do shows sustain themselves when so many aspects of the series has shifted – Doctor who’s one of those series which has prevailed over time, rather than smallish chunks of time, over decades.

Since its inception in 1963, the series has successfully maintained popularity among the BBC longest running science fiction series, and probably holds that title for the majority of televisions series anywhere.

Most popular series have the normal scenarios played dozens of times through different characters and scenes. The slapstick humor that’s often seen in powerful series is a hard nail to strike repeatedly, although a lot of series have achieved such acclaim. But never before has a science fiction tv show been so embraced and followed that through significant social, economic and political changes, there’s an appeal to a huge audience.

Peter Capaldi as Doctor Who
Peter Capaldi as Doctor Who

Doctor that has been depicted by eleven faces, and over time they’ve developed from the older, yet distinguished, to mad scientist into more handsome characters. But it’s not the attractiveness of this character which has caused its success; it’s the uniqueness and creativity of the narrative that keep audiences coming back for more. The changing actors is readily explained through the life span of a Time Lord and their capacity to regenerate after suffering from an illness, injury or old age – the procedure changes physical appearance making new main characters more believable and adopted.

And although physically the Doctor has changed he’s maintained several character traits.

Tardis
The TARDIS

The series itself is about a Time Lord, and aliens who travels through space and time in a time machine named TARDIS. Because he’s traveling through time, he’s struck many famous figures that have segued into fascinating storylines and plots. There’s always and experience, and always a plot to every episode. As time continues, there are always new experiences to be created.

The show did not rely on romantic affections between characters for its own survival. The series is unique and portrays another principal character.

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