The Digital Television (DTV) Transition

May 11, 2009

The digital television (DTV) transition is coming! Here is a quick FAQ about DTV and how it affects you.

Q. WHEN IS THE TRANSITION TAKING PLACE?
A. The transition to digital television will take place on June 12, 2009.

Q. WHAT DOES THE TRANSITION TO “DIGITAL” TELEVISION MEAN?
A. Currently, most TV stations are already broadcasting a digital and an analog signal. On June 12th, 2009 they will no longer broadcast the analog signal.  When the analog signal is shut off, TV’s receiving content using an antenna will no longer be able to display programming.  These older television sets can still be used with the purchase of a Digital TV Converter box

Q. WHO IS AFFECTED BY THE TRANSITION?
A. Essentially, anyone who has a TV and watches shows is affected. The switch to DTV will not affect DVD players, video-game systems etc, those will still work just fine. You may have to get a converter box in order to watch TV. Also, if you have a TV tuner in your computer (watch TV through your computer), you WILL be affected and you WILL need to get a digital converter box or a new TV tuner with DTV capabilities.

Q. DO I NEED TO GET A DIGITAL CONVERTER BOX?
A. If you are currently hooked up to cable or satellite and you have a cable-box or satellite-box that you turn on to watch TV, then you are already set up for the transition to DTV. If you have cable TV hooked directly into your TV, you may or may not need to get a digital converter box. You should check with your cable company. If you have a TV that is not hooked up to cable or satellite (you just receive a few channels often not the best quality), and/or have “rabbit ear” antennas hooked up to it, you WILL need a converter box in order to watch TV after the transition takes place, unless your TV has a built in digital tuner. All newer TVs manufactured after May 25th, 2007 are required to have a built in digital tuner.

*If your television set is labeled as a “Digital Monitor” or “HDTV Monitor,” or as “Digital Ready” or “HDTV Ready,” this does not mean it actually contains a digital tuner. Thus, you still will likely need a separate set-top box which contains a tuner in order to view programs in the new digital TV transmission standard (which includes HDTV formats) on such a set.

Q. WHERE DO I GET A CONVERTER BOX?
A. Between January 1, 2008, and July 31, 2009, all U.S. households will be eligible to request up to two coupons, worth $40 each, to be used toward the purchase of up to two, digital-to-analog converter boxes. You can request a coupon through the NTIA, the agency that administers the coupon program. For more information on the Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program, or to apply for coupons, please visit www.dtv2009.gov , or call 1-888-388-2009 (voice) or 1-877-530-2634 (TTY).  Local retailers such as Best Buy should have converter boxes.  To find a retailer near you visit this website.

Q. WHY IS THE SWITCH TO DTV OCCURING?
A. Digital television offers a much better picture and a higher level of sound quality than analog television. It allows a single station to broadcast a standard definition and a high definition version of the same program simultaneously without having to take up more that one channel. For example, Channel 9.0 might be standard definition Fox whereas 9.1 would be the high definition version.

FCC fact sheet on DTV http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/digitaltv.html

In depth information on DTV http://www.dtv.gov/whatisdtv.html

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