Conn. Public TV gets $2M to go digital

Connecticut Gov. John Rowland approved $2 million to upgrade Connecticut

Public Television to digital television, offering better sound and picture,

interactivity and other advanced options.

The $2 million will be used to buy production and technical equipment,

transmission systems and playback and recording devices. The money is the

first installment of a five-year commitment totaling $10 million. The total

cost is estimated at $23 million, including private financing in addition

to state and local funds.

Digital television, which the Federal Communications Commission said

broadcasters must switch to by 2003, is more advanced than the typical analog

television most people use today.

CPTV's engineering manager, Joe Zareski, said the most recognizable

improvements will be a picture and sound quality "as good as what we'll

see in the studio." In contrast, an analog signal "constantly degrades through

transmission," he said, so the longer the transmission, the worse the picture

and sound quality.

A simplified version of the interactive features would be allowing people

to choose any movie at any time, instead of a set pay-per-view schedule,

Zareski said.

With digital TV, watching a show will be more like using the Internet,

and your television will be more like a computer. While watching a show

on cheetahs, for example, a person could click on a link on the screen and

access information about the effort to save the animal from extinction.

Or for another show, people could comment on a discussion topic. People

could even download information, just as they would from the World Wide

Web.

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