Analog TV Dies: Good Riddance

The nation's analog broadcast television standard, known as NTSC, died today after a long illness. It was 68 years old and should have died years ago.

NTSC, which stood for National Television System Committee, had been depressed in recent years. It was originally designed for the 5- to 12-inch black & white portholes that passed for television sets in 1941. Despite having undergone a life-saving operation to add color in 1953, and further surgery to add analog stereo sound in 1984, NTSC was looking a bit peaked.

NTSC was known to be breathing hard in a world of flat-panel HDTVs with large screens that magnified its considerable flaws. Friends say this only exacerbated NTSC's inferiority complex. "It really was kind of embarrassing that people were watching TV using a standard designed in the 1940s," one noted.

Remarkably, according to Nielsen, there are approximately 2.8 million American households, or 2.5 percent of the total TV audience, who think NTSC is still alive, despite relentless reports of its failing health. In fact, it fell into a coma and nearly died on February 17, but was revived by a team of doctors sent from the White House.

However, all 1760 TV stations in the U.S. finally agreed to shut off life support today. NTSC is now as dead as the 78 rpm record. Open yourself a bottle of champagne and settle down with the new Conan tonight, unless of course you prefer Dave. They're both in HD.

NTSC is survived by ATSC, or Advanced Television Systems Committee, a younger broadcast standard outfitted with a high-definition picture and surround sound. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you buy a DTV.

By the way, be sure run a fresh channel scan on your DTV or set-top box tomorrow, on Saturday. A lot of stations will be doing their final frequency hop as late as midnight tonight.

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