“Digital Clear” Is A Lie

April 8, 2008
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Channel One’s NSBA display boasts of "digital clear" picture.

From Jim Metrock:

Channel One Network and their parent company Alloy Media and Marketing are purposefully misleading educators, school board members, school administrators and the general public with their claims of "digital clear" and "state-of-the-art digital video system."

I have sent an email to Channel One CEO Kent Haehl asking him to remove this language from their marketing efforts. So far, Mr. Haehl has not replied.

Here’s the reason why Channel One is wrong to make these claims.

First a review of Channel One’s TV network. There is a satellite dish that receives the show every weekday. There is a "head-end" unit that takes that signal and distributes it to the classroom TV sets via wiring.

Channel One has upgraded only the head-end unit or the receiver. The new unit is a DVR-receiver that has the POTENTIAL of improving picture quality A LITTLE.

The two main purposes of this upgrade are to minimize maintenance calls and to help get a more accurate audience number so advertisers can be assured they are not overpaying.

As far as I know, Channel One has not replaced one analog TV set with a digital TV. The "digital upgrade" had nothing to do with the TV sets in classrooms.

That is why using the term "state-of-the-art" as describing their TV network is absurd. It’s a big, fat lie.

I have several TV sets in my home. Recently, I upgraded to the digital cable option. Now I am getting a digital signal to all my TV sets and of course my monthly bill went up for the digital signal. But the extra cost is worth it to me because I have two High Definition TV sets. The picture is incredible, as everyone knows who has HD TV in their home.

The digital cable is also hooked up to my two old 27" TV sets. The digital signal I am paying extra for is wasted on these TVs. The picture is lousy – compared with the HD picture on the plasma screens. My friends in the TV world tell me that a digital signal sent to an analog TV set improves the picture quality a fraction. It is barely enough to notice and most people don’t see any change.

Channel One’s new DVR receivers may be the most up-to-date receivers in the business, but their TV sets are based on the 60-year-old analog TV system people my age grew up with. Channel One’s present TV sets can only display 480 lines on the screen and only 240 lines at a time. A half of a picture is shown every 1/60 of a second. This is called interlacing. The 240 odd number lines are shown then the 240 even number lines.

A digital signal can provide up to 5 times more pixels than the old analog signal could deliver, but it’s all wasted on Channel One’s old TV sets.

If you went to Best Buy and told the sales person you wanted a "state-of-the-art digital video system" for your home, you would be quite upset if you paid big money for digital cable or satellite service, top-of-the-line wiring and cabling, a digital video recorder, and then find out they are installing a circa 1994 19" Magnavox analog color TV set to connect to your digital signal.

When a person hears Channel One say its picture is "digital clear" they have an anticipation of a very clear picture on a digital TV screen. Channel One’s management is misrepresenting its product because the company is in such bad shape financially. Being down on your luck is no excuse to try to fool schools.

For Channel One to offer a true "digital clear" picture to its remaining schools they would have to replace all the TV sets with digital ones and that would cost over $250 million. (Assuming $1000 for a discounted 40" LCD flat panel TV set X 250,000 classrooms that still have Channel One TVs.) That is way too much money for Channel One’s parent company to spend. Therefore there will more than likely never be a "state-of-the-art Channel One TV experience."

It’s time for Channel One’s executives to come clean with the American public.

Channel One press release September 4, 2007

Click here to read our deconstruction of this press release.

NEW YORK — Channel One News, the preeminent news and public affairs content provider for teens reaching more than six million students in middle schools and high schools across the country, today announced the roll-out of new digital technology in Channel One News schools across the country. The movement to digital technology enables the networks award-winning content to be a sharper, crisper viewing experience in classrooms across the country and online via ChannelOne.com. The roll-out is a significant part of an evolution that most recently includes the global access to breaking news stories

Designed expressly for Channel One News by Thomson Consumer Electronics, the new digital head-end receivers are feature-rich, quieter, reliable with a higher storage capacity than the analog receivers previously used. The millions of teens who turn to the programming as their only source of news will experience a better viewing experience, bringing them closer to the big issues of the day. The many educators who rely on Channel One News as a platform for classroom discussion will benefit from improved management capabilities such as the ability to burn content direct to DVDs, and distribute content to multiple classrooms at a given location, on a live, recorded, or on-demand basis, and at their discretion.

In tandem with the roll-out of digital equipment inside the schools, Channel One News is investing in upgrades to ChannelOne.com and ‘Livewire’, its 24/7 broadband video news channel, to ensure the highest quality viewing experience anytime, anywhere.

Said Matt Diamond, CEO of Alloy, Channel One News parent company, "We’re committed to and excited about our significant, initial investment in digital technology. By using better technology to broadcast our unique content, we can positively impact teens’ interest and engagement in civics education and current affairs."

Diamond added, "In terms of the upgrade to digital this is a launch year for Channel One News. When we looked out across the network, we saw this as the immediate and pivotal next piece to a process that will involve more enhancements. We will always seek out ways to make our content easier to teach and integrate into the learning environment, taking cues from new classroom technology like whiteboards and integrating student feedback and opinion more frequently into our platform."

The first of the digital receivers have begun rolling out in time for the 2007-2008 school season. Approximately 1,000 Channel One News schools are expected to have the technology installed by the end of September, with remaining schools to be serviced over the next several months. The migration to digital comes on the heels of a successful pilot with Thomson conducted last year in more than one hundred Channel One News schools representing a range of geographies nationwide.