Analogue TV snuffs it tonight on UK mainland
Freeview to drop out briefly - but not as a mark of respect
Tyne Tees will switch off its analogue TV transmission at midnight tonight. The shutdown will mark the last region of the mainland to go entirely digital despite the obituaries written in April.
Exactly how the signal will be killed off is described in quite terrifying detail by the A516 Digital blog. The switch to digital TV necessitates some interruption to the existing Freeview service in preparation for retuning and upping the digital transmission power to fill some of the analogue space. The rest of that portion of the airwaves will be left fallow until next year, when the mobile phone companies get to bid for it.
One might imagine analogue TV had already been switched off back in April, when Arqiva sponsored a party at Crystal Palace and everyone from the BBC to El Reg reminisced about on-screen snow and the now-departed delights of Ceefax.
But that was the London switchover, which was timed late enough to ensure they'd be no hiccups in the rollout of the technology (the first site, Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland, switched over four years ago) but not so late as to make Londoners think they were being left out. Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, meanwhile, will switch over on 24 October.
So right now, viewers in Tyne Tees can still get Ceefax and enjoy the graceful degradation of an analogue signal when reception falters - as opposed to the freeze-to-black provided by the digital alternative - but, sadly, only until the dying seconds of today. ®
I felt a great disturbance in the airwaves, as if millions of analogue tvs suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I fear something digital has happened.
Ach, there goes thirty-five years of PAL TV engeering...
I am now an expert in a field that no longer exists. I guess that makes me an official fossil!
Digital is an improvement because
We've got the same crap repeated over more channels and can have it in HD if we want.
more like fifty
My father Cedric (Ced) Taylor was involved in the development of PAL colour television receivers at Ekco in Southend from 1962 to 1967 and then at GEC Hitachi in Slough from 1967 to 1986. He died in February this year, two months before his TV signal did.
You've obviously not watched some of the documentary channels, for instance David Attenborough's ones where he shows millions of bats flocking is a good way to really kill MPEG compression, which is the artifact that the OP describes seeing.
Couple that with low-bit-rate channels, and poor MPEG conversion hardware on the broadcast end that they can't be bothered to pay real money for, and you end up with a complete mess trying to watch something that looks like a bad YouTube clip on your HD TV.
The HD channels "solve" it a bit, but only if you have them and pay for them (where appropriate) and if the thing you want to watch happens to be shown on them.
It doesn't matter how big your screen is or how far aware you are if the MPEG compression just can't keep up.