Digital TV Transition Digital TV Transition

As we near the Digital TV transition on June 12, 2009, here are a few things you need to know to make sure you don't miss a second of your favorite shows.

What the Heck is the DTV Transition All About?
As mandated by the federal government, after June 12, 2009, all over-the-air broadcasters will begin broadcasting with only a digital signal. (They currently broadcast with both a digital and analog signal). Any home that receives its television signal from an antenna or "rabbit ears" will not be able to receive the digital signal without a converter box (more on that below). Simply put, if you still use an antenna to watch TV, you need to listen up.

Do I Have to Buy a New TV?
No. Older analog televisions will still work with an analog-to-digital converter box. Also, any television produced/sold after March 1, 2007 should have a digital tuner built into the TV. If you are unsure about a recently purchased TV, look for labels or wording such as "Integrated Digital Tuner" or "Digital Receiver" on the materials that were packaged with your set. This digital tuner will receive digital over-the-air broadcasts without you having to purchase an additional converter box.

OK, So What Do I Have to Buy?
You must buy an analog-to-digital converter box for each analog television in your home. These converters can be purchased at most electronics stores, and range in price from $40 to $70. The federal government is offering coupons worth $40 each to assist in the purchase of approved converter boxes. Note: the coupons take several days to arrive in the mail. Converter boxes can also be bought without coupons. 

How Will Cable Channels Be Affected?
Relax. If you are watching that type of programming, you already have a cable or satellite provider and some sort of box connected to your television. You will be unaffected by the DTV transition, unless you have other televisions in your home that operate only with an analog tuner.

What About My Other Devices (VCRs, DVD Players, Gaming Consoles)?
All of those devices will continue to operate as they always have. The digital converter box will have no effect on the performance of those devices.

Will I Be Getting HDTV After I Install the Converter Box?
No, you will simply be receiving a digital broadcast signal, not a high-definition broadcast. You may notice better clarity on some channels, but you will only be able to watch high-definition broadcasts by upgrading your television to an HDTV set. Premium channels and sports packages in HD still require a subscription to a high-definition cable, satellite or fiber-optic service.

Can I Start Watching Digital TV now, or Do I Have to Wait Until June 12?
You can purchase and install your analog-to-digital converter anytime and begin watching digital TV now. After June 12, 2009, however, only digital signals will be broadcast.

For more information, check out