Glossary of Television Terms

Document created by alyssap on Aug 9, 2012Last modified by shaw-jody on Feb 26, 2018
Version 17Show Document
  • View in full screen mode

Welcome to our Glossary of Terms for TV terminology. Find definitions for specific terms that can provide a better understanding when trying to troubleshoot TV-related issues. Click on any of the following letters to find the term that you are looking for.


# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

 Find definitions for the following terms:


Terms #, A-E
Definitions for number-related terms and terms beginning with the letters "A" through "E".



Standard definition aspect ratio.



High definition aspect ratio.


480, 720, 1080

480, 720 and 1080 refer to the number of lines used to create a picture on your TV screen.  A regular (standard definition) television signal uses 480 lines, while HDTV uses 720 or 1080 lines to create the picture. The more lines used to create an image, the more detail exists, and the higher the definition of the picture. The number will be followed by a letter “i” or “p” indicating whether the picture format is progressive or interlaced (please refer to respective definitions).



Analog Cable

Picture which is transmitted over coaxial cable directly from the wall outlet to the rear of your TV; does not require a Digital Box to be able to receive and display a picture, restricted to Basic channels in areas which have already undergone a Digital Network Upgrade.


Aspect Ratio

A measurement of a television’s width compared to its height (width: height). Regular television (standard definition) is displayed at a 4:3 aspect ratio. High definition television is displayed at a 16:9 aspect ratio.



BlueSky TV

BlueSky TV combines customized apps, social media features, and traditional video services to deliver a personalized and dynamic TV experience.  Includes a voice remote that allows you to search using voice commands to get quicker access to your TV content, apps, Netflix and more. Check out our BlueSky TV Support articles.




Cable Box

See Digital Box.



Digital Box

Synonyms: cable box, converter box, digital cable terminal (DCT), set-top box (STB)

Shaw equipment which receives the digital TV signal coming into your home through a coaxial cable and then outputs the signal to a TV.


Digital Rights Management (DRM)

A class of technology used to inhibit unintended uses (e.g. duplication) of content as specified by the original content provider e.g. copyright protection for digital media to prevent duplication and unauthorized redistribution.


Digital Television (DTV)

A system which transmits TV channels digitally, requiring a digital box (cable box) in order to receive the signal and display the picture on your TV, not necessarily high definition but often refers to standard definition TV which is transmitted digitally.



eSATA Port

Found on the rear panel of select Digital Boxes, allows you to connect an Expander (external hard drive) to either enable the PVR capabilities of a PVR-ready box or to expand the hard drive already present on PVR boxes for more recording space.

Back to top


Terms F-J

Definitions for terms beginning with the letters "F" through "J".



FreeRange TV

FreeRange TV is s Shaw service that allows you to watch your Shaw programming through a mobile device, streaming on your desktop/laptop or via our FreeRange TV app.  The service is free for all Shaw TV subscribers. Visit our FreeRange TV FAQs for additional information.



Go WiFi

Shaw Go WiFi is Shaw's WiFi network of hotspots that allows customers to get online from any of Shaw's 80,000 hotspots across Canada. Access to Shaw Go WiFi is complimentary for all Shaw Internet customers. Visit our Shaw Go WiFi FAQs.



Hard Drive Capacity

Indicates the amount of recording space available on a Digital Box that is capable of recording and storing TV programs; high definition programs allocate space more quickly than that of standard definition (e.g. a hard drive with a capacity of 500GB can store up to 60 hours of HDTV, or 300 hours of standard definition content).


HD Box

Synonyms: HD Capable Box, High Definition Box

Shaw equipment which receives the digital TV signal coming into your home through a coaxial cable and then outputs the signal to a TV is capable of tuning to HD channels.


HDCP (High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection)

Encryption used on DVI and HDMI connections (between an HD Digital Box and TV) which prevents the unauthorized duplication of copyrighted material.


High Definition

Synonyms: HD

Provides a picture resolution that  is significantly higher than that of standard definition; the signal for HDTV is transmitted digitally with a resolution of either 720p, 1080i or 1080p; requires a high definition digital box (cable box) in order to receive the signal and display the picture on your TV (TV must also be capable of displaying an HD picture in 720p, 1080i or 1080p to view in HD quality); a DVI or HDMI connection between the HD Digital Box and an HDTV is required to view picture in HD. Visit our article on Understanding TV definitions for more information.




Commonly refers to the ports on the rear of your TV which allow you to insert a video or audio cable which comes from the Digital Box.


Interlaced Scanning

Divides a picture frame into two separate images, each containing only half of the information. Video for the odd-numbered lines in the complete picture frame is distributed in one frame, with the even numbered lines being distributed in the next frame. The two video fields are displayed fast enough (60 times per second) that it fools the eye into believing it is viewing one complete picture. This is the standard for analog video distribution (e.g. 480i).



nothing at this time

Back to top


Terms K-O

Definitions for terms beginning with the letters "K" through "O".



Synonyms: kilohertz
kilohertz is often used to specify bandwidth for digital as well as analog signals. Represents a thousand cycles per second.




Picture mode which displays a widescreen format picture on standard definition television which has a 4:3 aspect ratio; consequently this will result in black bars appearing at the top and bottom of the screen (no cropping or shrinking the picture).




Compression standard used for broadcast-quality programming (e.g. over the air, cable, satellite TV, DVD). Supports interlacing and high definition. Shaw’s MPEG-2 Bit Rate is 16 Mbps.



Compression standard used for broadcast-quality programming which supports access to content through multimedia applications (e.g. streaming through the Internet) using a lower bitrate than MPEG-2. Shaw’s MPEG-4 Bit Rate is 7-8 Mbps.



Native Mode

Picture mode which displays the picture in the format that it is being broadcast in (e.g. if the channel is broadcasting the program in 4:3 aspect ratio, the picture will be displayed accordingly, i.e. no stretching or modifying the screen size occurs).




On-Demand refers the ability to access content when you need it or when you require it. Shaw On Demand is an example of video-on-demand content that includes movies or TV programming that can be accessed when you want to view it.

Back to top


Terms P-T

Definitions for terms beginning with the letters "P" through "T".




Transforms a widescreen movie or TV program to fit a 4:3 TV screen (older TVs have this screen aspect ratio), resulting in a significant amount of lost picture information, particularly in the width of the image. HDTVs use a 16:9 aspect ratio, which is wider and can display all or most of the original picture of widescreen material. You may see a disclaimer about a program or movie having been formatted to fit your TV (e.g. when watching a DVD); that means it's been converted to pan-and-scan. Shaw HD Digital Boxes have the ability to enable this option.



Synonyms: PPV

New-release movies or special events (e.g. UFC, boxing) that can be ordered and watched at a pre-determined time and can only be watched for the time it is being broadcast.



Synonyms: Picture Distortion, Artifacting, Digitizing

Little squares of a distorted picture which appear intermittently while watching a TV program. The squares indicate packet loss resulting from poor reception on a digital channel.


Progressive Scanning

All lines contained in a video frame are drawn from the top down at the rate of 3 frames per second, rather than being divided across two separate fields, as in interlaced scanning. Among the benefits of progressive scanning is a reduction in the artifacts that result from interlaced scanning, particularly the line twitter that are normally seen on the vertical edges between objects and backgrounds.


Personal Video Recorder

Synonyms: PVR, Digital Video Recorder, DVR

Digital Box which allows you to record a live TV program or movie and store it on the device for watching at a later time.



nothing at this time





Unscrewing a cable and then subsequently screwing the cable back in (e.g. reseating a coaxial cable).



Describes the level of detail in a picture displayed on your TV screen or other display such as a computer monitor. High definition picture has a higher resolution than standard definition. Generally, the higher the resolution, the better quality picture that can be expected.



Secondary Audio Programming (SAP)

A service that carries an additional audio track alongside a television channel that serves as an alternative to the regular audio track that accompanies the video portion of a program; changing the audio to SAP you will hear voice-print, typically used by the visually impaired.


Shaw On Demand

Synonyms: SOD

A video ordering service that provides access to movie titles, sports features and TV episodes which you can order and watch instantly through your Digital Box or online at You can pause, rewind, stop and resume watching a title as often as you like until the order has expired.


Standard Definition

Provides a lower picture resolution than that of high definition, often with a 4:3 aspect ratio (sometimes shown with a 16:9 aspect ratio, depending on how the program was filmed as well as how the channel network has decided to broadcast the content); analog cable and non-HD digital channels are broadcast in standard definition.





The component in the Digital Box which receives and converts the signal from Shaw’s network into video and audio; non-PVR Digital Boxes have only one tuner, whereas PVR Digital Boxes have two, with the exception of the Shaw Gateway which has six tuners. Multiple tuners in a Digital Box allows you to record multiple channels simultaneously, or to use one tuner to watch a channel while using the other tuner to record a separate channel.

Back to top


Terms U-Z

Definitions for terms beginning with the letters "U" through "Z".




Synonyms: Ultra High Frequency

Ultra High Frequencies that are between 300 MHz (wavelength of 1 meter) and 3.0 GHz (wavelength of 10 centimeters), used for television broadcasting.




Synonyms: Very High Frequency

Very High Frequency are frequencies that are between 30 MHz (wavelength 10 m) to 300 MHz (wavelength 1 m), used for radio and television broadcasting.


Video On Demand

Synonyms: VOD

A feature of digital cable providers (such as Shaw) that allows you to access movies and television programs when you choose to watch it.  Programming that you watch when you want to watch it. See Shaw On Demand for additional information.




Picture mode which is suited to TVs with a 16:9 aspect ratio. In the User Settings or configuration screen on your Digital Box, you would set the TV Type to 16:9 to ensure that the picture is displayed in Widescreen mode.



nothing at this time




Refers to component video, which splits a video signal into three components: Y, Pb and Pr. On a component cable, Y, Pb and Pr is carried on green, blue, and red cable connections, respectively.




Synonyms: Digital Zoom

The ability to resize your TV picture by narrowing the area of focus or "zooming" in on the content.

Back to top



Related Articles