Japan Prepares for Analog Shutoff

On July 24, 2011, Japan will shut down analog broadcasting. The Japan Times describes Japan's digital transition in the article The countdown: six months and a day till TV goes digital by Mark Schreiber.

Even though Japan is using a different terrestrial DTV system--ISDB-T based on COFDM—as compared to the U.S. single carrier 8-VSB system, the article flags concerns that will sound familiar to broadcasters after the analog shutdown in this country. It notes the media is reminding the Japanese "that people residing in remote islands and mountainous areas with poor reception--no one is exactly sure how many--will be left without any TV. Likewise for some homes whose reception may be blocked by adjacent taller structures."

An estimated 3.7 million television sets in hotels, hospitals and rest homes will require replacement. The article said the nationwide replacement status to date for hotels and inns "may still be as low as 30 percent." There is also concern about the impact on the environment from disposing of all the old analog sets. "With many municipalities unable to deal with the sheer volume, concerns have been voiced that illegal dumping of discarded sets may reach into the hundreds of thousands, wreaking further damage to the environment."

The article's final note will also strike a resonance with U.S. broadcasters:

"For all the sound and fury, pundits have pointed out that both television and radio as we know it may already be technologically obsolete."

The writer cites "increasingly sophisticated technologies" such as pay-per-view, satellite TV, the Internet and high-speed mobile communications all as diminishing conventional television's audience. It concludes with the statement that digital broadcasting "may barely survive into its teens."

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack.
A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.