Are you ready for digital TV?

December 17, 2008 7:53:27 PM PST
On February 17, full power TV stations like ABC-11 will stop transmitting analog signals and switch to digital. In the 6 p.m. newscast on Wednesday, WTVD scheduled a test of the new digital system. Viewers whose TVs were ready saw normal programing. Viewers with televisions that are not ready saw a special DTV announcement.

So what does it all mean?

Televisions made before 1998 are considered analog and will require a converter. Any analog TV being used without cable, satellite or a pay service provider will not work after February 17, 2009 without a special converter.

How do I know if my TV will work after the switch?

  • Televisions made 1998-2004 may have a built-in digital tuner. To find out if your television has a built-in digital tuner consult your owners's manual or visit your manufacturer's warranty.
  • Generally, televisions and projectors 42 inches in diameter or larger include digital tuners before 2004.
  • If you have purchased a TV since 2004 it probably has a built-in digital tuner.
  • Newer sets that are advertised as "HD-ready" or "HDTV monitor" can display digital and high-definition signals, but will still require a special converter or a cable, satellite or pay service TV connection.

Note: in Wednesday's test, satellite television customers will not see the digital signal because satellite providers say they won't be ready to make the switch until early January

What are my options after February 17, 2009?

  • If you do not have cable, satellite or a pay service for your TV, you can keep your TV and purchase a converter box.
  • Connect to cable, satellite or other pay services.
  • Purchase a TV with a digital tuner.

What is a converter box?

  • A new product that will plug into your analog TV, along with an antenna, and keep your TV working after the switch.
  • It is a one-time purchase ranging $50-$70.
  • A TV connected to cable, satellite or other pay TV services will not require a converter box.
  • For a complete list of retailers, manufacturers and to apply for a $40 coupon you can visit www.dtv2009.com.

About the coupon:

  • Congress created the TV Converter Box Coupon Program allowing families to obtain only 2 $40 coupons per household to apply to the purchase of up to 2 converter boxes.
  • If coupons are lost or stolen they will not be replaced.
  • To apply for coupons between Jan.1, 2008-Mar. 31, 2009 visit www.dtv2009.com or call 888-388-2009.

About your converter box:

  • Your converter box does not need to be the same brand as your current TV.
  • The converter box is about the size of a paperback book.
  • You can receive closed captioning with the box.
  • Cannot use the converter box along with cable, satellite or any other pay service.
  • Your VCR/DVD will work without converter box but will not be able to receive over-the-air programming.
  • You can begin using the converter now; however it will not give you HDTV.
  • You can install the converter box without outside assistance.

Why is television switching to digital?

  • Digital broadcasting is expected to deliver clearer picture quality, more programming options and free up airways for emergency responders and other uses.

***Note: Cable, satellite and pay service customers please contact your provider prior to February 17, 2009 about the transitions needed (if any).

Additional phone numbers for information about DTV: Federal Communications Commission: 888-225-5322
National Association of Broadcasters: 888-388-2009

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