Digital Television

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Important.png Note: This page applies to United States users only. Official information on the change is found here

On February 19th, 2009, the United States will change from analog broadcast television to digital broadcast television. This change has some implications for MythTV users and this page will try to answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions. This table generalizes the situation

Type of service Need to change
Analog antenna/broadcast
Cable television
Satellite television

Digital vs. HDTV

One common point of confusion is the use of digital television and HD television interchangeably. Digital television is simply the digital broadcast of TV signals compared to analog broadcast. Digital does not require a signal to be HD. HD is defined by the resolution of the content. Digital broadcasts can be in both SD (standard definition) and HD (high definition) formats.

Analog antenna/broadcast users

If you currently receive television using a standard antenna, you need to change equipment to continue to receive digital broadcasts. You have two basic options without changing to another type of service: digital converter, digital broadcast capture card.

Digital converters

This are set top boxes that you can get a coupon for from the government to convert the digital broadcast signal back to analog so your existing equipment does not have to change. This should work fine with MythTV, but might require use of an IR blaster to change channels and also require one converter per tuner in your system.

Digital broadcast cards

These cards are commonly sold as HDTV capture cards. They will have various features such as ATSC support, QAM support, or 8VSB support. They may also advertise if they support OTA signals. For digital broadcast capture, OTA support is required. This is synonymous with 8VSB and should be what you look for when purchasing a card. This tuner is analogous to a typical analog capture card like a PVR-150 and would take the place of that card in a digital setup.

A good example of this card in a PCI format is the AverMedia A180 with additional information here

The digital converter coupons cannot be used for computer capture cards

Cable TV users

There is no requirement from the government for changes to cable television in conjunction with the change to broadcast TV

That being said, many cable companies are taking advantage of the change to force users to change to digital services and require the use of a STB, set top box, in order to receive programming.

If your cable provider requires the use of a STB to receive all stations, then this change will affect your MythTV configuration. You should refer to the Recording Digital Cable page for additional information. Effectively, you will require one STB per tuner.

Satellite TV users

There is no change required by the government for satellite TV delivery