What are the differences among NTSC, PAL, and Secam?

There are three main analog television systems in the world.

NTSC is used in the United States, Canada, Japan and other countries mainly in the Americas. It is named for the National Television System Committee.

PAL is mainly used in Europe (except France); it stands for Phase Alternation by Line.

Secam is used in France and Russia and large parts of Africa. It stands for “Séquentiel couleur avec mémoire,” French for “sequential color with memory.”

Click here for a world map of the different standards.

Each standard is incompatible with the other. For example, a video recording made in the US (NTSC) could not be played in Italy (PAL), and vice versa, using a standard VCR. So be careful when purchasing a prerecorded video while traveling abroad. Be sure it says "NTSC," or you will not be able to play it on your home VCR. Triple standard machines are available and prerecorded tapes can be converted, but both of these options are very expensive.
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