PAL, SECAM, NTSC: Competition or Coexistence?

Definition of terms:

[li]NTSC: National Television System Committee, a US committee of businesses and engineers originally created to decide on black and white TV standards.[/li][li]PAL: Phase Alternate by Line.[/li][li]SECAM: SEquential Color And Memory.[/li][/ul]

Which nations use which format.

So, my question is simple: In this day of globalization, is there an advantage to having one standard instead of three mutually incompatable standards? Will two groups of nations be bound to a ‘Betamax’ (bad example, I know, but it gets the point across) and have to fundamentally retool their video systems? Will all three, once a substantially new system is introduced? Does HDTV count as a new standard on the level of an NTSC or a SECAM?

One reason comes out of necessity: differing current frequencies in different countries. Most of Europe uses 50hz circuits (therefore 25fps PAL) and the US uses 60hz (and so 30fps NTSC.)

Now, there are other differences between NTSC and PAL besides frequency. PAL is simply better as far as color consistency goes (that’s why NTSC stands for "Never The Same Color :slight_smile: ) It’s been a while since Signals class, so I don’t remember the specifics of how each system works.

NTSC was developed first, and it was designed to be backwards compatible with black and white video, so NTSC signals would look right on B&W televisions. PAL was adopted later, after people realized how much NTSC is a pain in the arse.

So, is PAL related to NTSC, or is it just different?

It’s completely different.

The disadvantage is that whoever switches will have to tell everyone in their country that they need to buy new TVs. Not particularly popular.

The alternative is to have all your TV stations broadcast in two formats until everyone switches over. They’re not likely to go for that (though, of course, a nationalized TV network like the BBC could be ordered to do it). But that means twice as much equipment for a very long period of time.

There are also national egos involved. SECAM, I seem to recall, is French, and they aren’t going to accept a foreign format if they can help it.

HDTV might eventually become a global standard, but HDTV seems to be stalling.