Congress votes to delay the transition of broadcast television signal from analog to digital.The House of Representatives voted Wednesday, February 4th to delay the transition of broadcast format from an analog radio signal to a digital signal. The transition was originally scheduled to take place on February 17th. Due in part to concern that some parts of the country, especially the poor and the elderly, would not be ready for the transition by that date, the new administration under President Obama proposed delaying the transition. The delay would ideally give everyone time to prepare their television sets to receive programs broadcast using the new digital format. The new date for the transition is June 12th.
What does this mean for you? If you currently get your television through a cable or satellite service, this change will not affect you. If your television already has an integrated digital tuner, you already have everything you need for the transition. As we reported in an earlier post, the transition will have the biggest impact on those who are using older televisions, and depend on a terrestrial antenna to receive their programming. These television viewers now have until June to purchase either a new television with an integrated digital tuner, or to purchase a set-top converter box that will allow their existing analog television to display a digital signal. The U.S. Department of Commerce had created a coupon program to offset the cost of set-top converter boxes. This program’s funding ran out in the early part of this year. Additional funding for the coupon program is currently part of the proposed economic stimulus plan.
A word of warning for those of you who are affected by this transition, we caution you to be careful of claims made by cable and satellite television companies. These companies have recently started advertising that claims their services are a way to be ready for the digital conversion. To be fair, in one sense these claims are true. These services are not going to be impacted by the transition, and subscriber services will not be interrupted as a result. However, these services will not make your older, analog television ready to accept a digital signal. Cable and satellite formats are a different technology. Your older set will still need an analog to digital converter if you ever discontinue your cable or satellite service.