TVB Top Stories of 2009

 A look back at the year that was...
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Television Broadcast presents the Top 10 stories of 2009 based on Web traffic. Objects may be closer than they seem in retrospect:

10. “The Simpsons” Goes Hi-Def
The venerable Fox cartoon went HD in its 20th season with the episode, “Take My Life, Please,” where Homer imagines his life had he been elected class president in high school.

9. Tsunami Hits American Samoa
The broadcast Emergency Alert System was credited with saving lives in late September when an undersea earthquake triggered a tsunami that washed over American Samoa.

8. TV ENG Van Explodes
Two crew members for WSB-TV in Atlanta escaped serious injury after the mast of their ENG van struck a power line, causing the vehicle to explode.

7. Game Creek Video’s Liberty Burns
Game Creek’s 53-foot expando TV production truck caught fire on a Texas highway early one morning in April. No injuries were reported.

6. Local News in HD
By early February, 155 TV stations in 73 markets were doing their local news in high definition. The trend of converting local news operations intensified in the run up to the 2008 Beijing Winter Olympics, then dropped off as the economy contracted and local advertising revenues plummeted. TVB is in the process of updating its local HD news data base.

5. NAB 2009: Holography Update
Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technologies demonstrated what television expert Mark Schubin described as the first example of real electronic holography he’d ever witnessed. “To me,” he said, “this is like looking in on John Logie Baird’s first TV image in 1925.”

4. White Space Locator Launched
The conclusion of the digital transition in June marked another first for the industry. The FCC allowed companies to develop consumer devices for use in the buffer spectrum between TV channels, e.g. white spaces. The initiative represented the first time the FCC literally gave away radio frequency spectrum.

3. Grass Valley Exec: We’ll Be Around
Thomson SA announced in February its intention to sell Grass Valley, the iconic TV vendor that grew up in the California community of the same name. A Grass Valley executive followed up the news with a note to the industry, assuring the industry of the company’s continued presence.

2. Mount Wilson Flooded with Phos-Chek
Los Angeles residents woke up on the last Monday of August to a towering column of smoke east of the city. What started as a wildfire in a wilderness area quickly turned into one of the worst conflagrations in the history of the Angeles National Forest, threatening the city’s TV transmitters located on Mount Wilson.

1. DTV Deed is Done
The DTV transition was the biggest event in television in 2009, and possibly in the history of broadcast television. On June 12, some 970 full-power TV stations around the country ceased transmitting programming in analog, ending an era of more than six decades.

(Cover image by Derek Kerl)

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