A virtual channel is the designation, usually a number, that is recognized by the user as the single entity that will provide access to an analog TV program or a set of one or more digital elementary streams. It is called “virtual” because its identification (name and number) may be defined independently from its physical location. Examples of virtual channels are: digital radio (audio only), a typical analog TV channel, a typical digital TV channel (composed of one audio and one video stream), multi-visual digital channels (composed of several video streams and one or more audio tracks), or a data broadcast channel (composed of one or more data streams). In the case of an analog TV channel, the virtual channel designation will link to a specific physical transmission channel. In the case of a digital TV channel, the virtual channel designation will link both to the physical transmission channel and to the particular video and audio streams within that physical transmission channel.
Source: 65, 69, 76
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The Advanced Television Systems Committee, Inc., is an international, non-profit organization developing voluntary standards and recommended practices for digital terrestrial broadcasting. ATSC member organizations represent the broadcast, broadcast equipment, motion picture, consumer electronics, computer, cable, satellite, and semiconductor industries. ATSC also develops digital terrestrial broadcasting implementation strategies and supports educational activities on ATSC standards.