On Feb. 17, 2009, all over-the-air broadcasters will switch from an analog to a digital format. Doing so will improve the quality and choice of television available in our homes, but it will require some adjustment. As your congressman, I hope to provide you with resources that will ease this transition.
Currently, U.S. broadcast stations employ both analog and digital formats. However, in 2006, Congress passed legislation that would require all television stations to stop broadcasting on analog airwaves and begin broadcasting only in digital.
Switching to all digital broadcasting will free up valuable broadcast frequencies that can then be used by public safety entities, like police, fire departments and emergency rescue squads. Additionally, digital broadcasting will allow stations to offer improved picture and sound quality.
The upcoming Digital Television (DTV) transition may affect your ability to watch television if you own an older television that only receives analog broadcasts. If you own a digital television (a TV with an internal digital tuner), or if your television is connected to cable or satellite, your TV should continue to function without interruption after Feb. 17, 2009.
Any television sold in the U.S. after March 1, 2007, was required to include an internal digital tuner. If you are unsure whether your television includes an internal digital tuner, check for a label that says “Integrated Digital Tuner,” “Digital Tuner Built-In,” “Digital Receiver,” or “Digital Tuner,” “DTV,” “ATSC” or “HDTV.”
If you have an analog television (with a roof-top antenna or “rabbit ears” on the TV), you will need a special digital-to-analog converter box in order to continue watching broadcast television after the DTV transition. A digital-to-analog converter box plugs into your television and will keep it working after the DTV transition. Most cable or satellite boxes will convert the signal without the need for an additional box.
A converter box costs between $40 and $70, and is a one-time expense. The converter boxes are sold at a variety of stores, including Best Buy, Kmart, RadioShack, Sears, Target and Wal-Mart.
To find retailers in your area, or to view a list of online retailers, visit https://www.dtv2009.gov/VendorSearch.aspx.
To help consumers with the DTV transition, the federal government has established a Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program. The program helps consumers purchase the converter boxes by offering each household up to two coupons worth $40 each to be used toward the purchase of eligible converter boxes.
It is important to note that the coupons will expire 90 days after they are mailed. If your coupons have been lost or have expired, or if you have questions about the Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program, contact the National Telecommunications and Information Administration by calling (888) 388-2009 or by visiting www.ntia.doc.gov/dtvcoupon.
I encourage you to visit www.DTVTransition.org and use the free tool to determine how the transition will impact you.
The website also contains helpful information and frequently asked questions about the DTV transition.
As always, my staff is available to assist you with any questions or concerns you have about the upcoming transition. Please feel free to contact my Fort Mitchell office at (859) 426-0080 and we will do all we can to help you.