TV and Dolby Digital
Dolby 5.1 has been adopted for many weekly TV shows, including Alias, The Chris Isaak Show, The Practice, Queer as Folk, Six Feet Under, and The Sopranos. San Francisco-based Dolby estimates that programs encoded for 5.1 surround sound can now be received and decoded by more than 40 million set-top boxes and 25 million home theaters. Equipment makers and consumers are rapidly adopting the technology.
"We have seen the availability of Dolby Digital 5.1 programming rise dramatically recently, especially in the area of live programming," says Tom Daily, Dolby Labs' marketing director for professional audio. At the National Association of Broadcasters' recent annual convention, Dolby demonstrated many pro audio products used by networks and local stations to receive and distribute 5.1-channel audio within their facilities and to transmit surround sound to television viewers.
The Fox network has endorsed Dolby 5.1-encoded programming for all future sports events. Premium channels such as Discovery HD Theater, HBO, HDNet, ShowTime, Starz!, and various pay-per-view channels broadcast in Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. In Europe, commercial broadcasters BSkyB, Premiere, ProSieben, and Teleclub offer Dolby 5.1. Austrian public broadcaster ORF included Dolby Digital 5.1 with its famous New Year’s Concert featuring the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
"Dolby Digital 5.1 has become a regular part of digital cable and satellite broadcasts," Daily explained. "Consumers have become poised to receive and decode the 5.1 audio stream. In response to that demand, we are now seeing increasing numbers of local ATSC broadcasters equipping to include Dolby Digital 5.1."