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Digital TV broadcast deadline is only six weeks away. Will your TV still work?

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By NICK DIAMANTIDES
Staff Writer

On February 16, about six weeks from today, analog broadcasting by the full-power television stations throughout the United States will be a thing of the past. That means that people who do not have a digital television (DTV) set, and rely on an antenna to receive TV broadcast signals, will no longer be able to receive those signals without a converter box.

DTV is high-tech broadcasting technology that produces pictures and sound with amazing clarity. By transmitting information as “data bits” (like a computer) to create a TV set’s picture and sound, a digital broadcaster can carry far more information than analog broadcast technology currently allows. The difference between analog and digital broadcasting is similar to that between compact discs and cassette tapes.The technology also allows television stations to offer more programming choices than have been available on analog broadcasting, the system in operation since the 1950s.
That system, which has been the standard broadcast technology since the inception of television, is not as efficient as DTV. It uses up much more valuable broadcast spectrum that– once the DTV transition is completed– will be used for other purposes. The remaining broadcast spectrum will be auctioned off for the production of new services. That will significantly increase the number of choices available to television viewers who rely on the public airwaves for TV reception.
Although it is indisputable that DTV offers a better viewing experience with vastly improved picture and sound quality, millions of American homes could be without television reception unless homeowners take the time to get the converter boxes necessary to receive digital signals.
If you already have a DTV set or if you subscribe to a cable or satellite service, you probably don’t have to do anything. You will continue getting the programs you are getting now, but check with your satellite or cable provider to see if they will be providing any additional equipment. If you have an analog TV and rely on antenna reception, you will definitely need the converter box.
Many people, however, do not know if their television set was made for analog or digital reception. Every TV set made before 1998 was a traditional analog television. If you bought a big-screen projection TV between 1998 and 2004, there is a chance it has a built-in digital tuner inside. Before 2004, only a limited percentage of projection TV sets (generally sets that are 42 inches in diameter or larger) included digital tuners.
If you bought a new TV set in or after 2004, there is a high likelihood that it has a built-in digital tuner. In 2004, popular electronics stores started selling many TV sets with built-in digital tuners, which means they will continue to work after February 17, 2009. If you are not sure whether your TV is digital or analog, write down its model number and contact the manufacturer by using the phone number supplied in the owner’s manual or affixed to the back of the TV. Manufacturers also have websites that can easily be found with a quick search on the internet. Many of those sites include features that enable you to find out whether your TV set has a digital tuner.
If you discover that your TV uses analog technology, it is best to get your converter box as soon as possible. While the boxes are available in the electronic departments of several stores in the area, not everyone knows that the federal government is subsidizing the purchase of the boxes by offering free money saving coupons to anyone who asks.
It is important to apply for the coupons immediately as it takes about two weeks for the application to be processed. The coupons are available on a first-come, first-served basis until March 31, 2009, while supplies last. The coupons are good for only 90 days after they are sent to a household. It’s a good idea to buy the converter box as soon as the coupon arrives in the mail so that you can connect it and find out how it works before February 17. The coupons provide a $40 savings for each converter box and every household is entitled to two coupons.
According to several studies conducted for the federal government, minorities, low-income families, people living with disabilities, the elderly, and people living in rural areas will be among the most disproportionately affected by the transition to DTV. In spite of all the publicity that the coming transition to DRV has received in the past year, many people in those categories still know nothing about it.
For more information on the upcoming switch to DTV broadcasting, go to www.dtvanswers.com. To request coupons for converter boxes, call (888) 388-2009, or go to www.dtv2009.gov/ApplyCoupon.aspx.

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One Response to “Digital TV broadcast deadline is only six weeks away. Will your TV still work?”

  1. Digital TV broadcast deadline is only six weeks away. Will your TV … on January 2nd, 2009 1:51 pm

    […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptIf you have an analog TV and rely on antenna reception, you will definitely need the converter box. Many people, however, do not know if their television set was made for analog or digital reception. Every TV set made before 1998 was a … […]

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Digital TV broadcast deadline is only six weeks away. Will your TV still work?