Technology

NAB 2008: The Last Analog NAB

Broadcasters Weigh Opportunities, Turn to Mobile Video as DTV Transition Wraps Up 4/20/2008 07:00:00 AM Eastern

For broadcasters and vendors that have been plotting their digital futures for more than one decade at National Association of Broadcasters shows, sometime during last week’s convention, they must have stopped and observed, “Wow. This is the last analog NAB.”

2008 NAB Show

Indeed, except for low-power TV stations that will have a longer time to switch, last week’s show was the end of the beginning. On Feb. 17, 2009, at 11:59 p.m. (EST), U.S. stations are required to switch off their analog signal and begin broadcasting exclusively in digital.

NAB officials said there was a slight drop in registered attendees -- 105,259, compared with 111,028 last year -- but to many vendors, the floor seemed significantly less busy. Layoffs and airline troubles may have limited the crowd. One vendor used an observational measuring stick: It was easier than usual to get a restaurant reservation, and the taxi lines weren’t as long.

Station executives who were there shopped for the remaining upgrades needed to be done on DTV-transmission towers for new channel assignments. They wondered aloud in some panel discussions about the logistics of making sure that viewers who receive downconverted digital signals, from either over-the-air converter boxes or cable providers, are able to watch programs in the correct aspect ratio.

If the NAB traffic was a little lighter, this year’s confab was also light in significant product news. Large vendors like Harris, Thomson, Sony and Panasonic announced major sales, but there were few breakthrough products on display. Instead, there were more incremental improvements to existing products, which is a reflection of the increasingly software-based, information-technology-driven systems. New capabilities can often be achieved by simply reprogramming software, not by starting from scratch.

For complete coverage of the 2008 NAB Show, click here.

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