Thursday, April 24, 2008

TV Broadcasting To Change

On Feb. 17, 2009, major U.S. television stations will stop broadcasting analog signals and send only digital transmissions.

Some questions and answers about the transition:

Why is this happening?
Stopping the analog broadcasts will free up a huge amount of airwaves. The government has auctioned off some of them for use by wireless broadband and cell-phone TV. There's also a drive to use some of the spectrum for a network that can be used in emergency situations by public safety officials.

Do I need a digital converter box?
If you have cable or satellite TV, only extra sets that are not hooked up will be affected. If you get TV over the air — which more than 19 million U.S. households do, according a survey by Nielsen Co. — your TV might not work come Feb. 18. Most new TVs sold today, including flat-panel sets, have digital tuners, sometimes called "ATSC" tuners after the technical standard they use, and won't need a converter box.

"NTSC" is the old, analog tuner standard. Retailers can still sell older TVs if they are labeled as being analog-only.

How much do the converters cost?
Go to or call 1-888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009) to get up to two $40 coupons per household. The converter boxes generally cost $50-$60, so the final cost is between $10 and $20 per box.

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