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Poor quality TV images? Blame it on sun

If your television screen appears hazy, pixelated or goes blank at any point during the next two weeks, don’t worry. It’s happening because of satellite disruptions triggered by increased solar activity. Nandini R Iyer reports.

delhi Updated: Mar 04, 2010 02:16 IST
Nandini R Iyer

If your television screen appears hazy, pixelated or goes blank at any point during the next two weeks, don’t worry. It’s happening because of satellite disruptions triggered by increased solar activity.

Television viewing across the world may be disrupted from March 4 to 18, due to a natural phenomenon called sunspots.

Sunspots occur because the earth’s magnetic field is playing tricks on it, explained Dr Mayank Vahia, scientist at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.

“As the number of sunspots builds, the sun’s magnetic field grows more and more charged.

Eventually, the sunspots release waves of charged particles (flares) into space, which affect satellite communication,” he said.

“To date we don’t know why sunspots occur at all.”

Though your TV viewing may be affected, the sunspots won’t cause any damage to your televisions or set top boxes.

“At most, people might lose the picture on screen for a few minutes,” said an official with Tata Sky.

Subscribers, he said, need not switch off their television sets.

“Satellite broadcasting all over the world will be affected. But the sunspots won’t affect more than one channel at a time and that too for a maximum of five to 15 minutes,” a management functionary with another direct-to-home (DTH) service provider, who didn’t wish to be identified, said.

“Cable viewers will also be affected,” clarified another official.

“Cable operators provide their services through a physical network but some of the channels they provide may be coming through satellite.”

(Inputs from Anika Gupta)