The End of Analog, Networks Required to Start Digital Broadcast in February. Let the age of digital television begin!
At this point it should hardly come as a surprise that your local stations are scheduled to switch their broadcast format from the current analog signal to a digital signal by February 17th of this year. This is to meet requirements put in place by the FCC. The reason for the switch goes back to legislation passed in 2005 that requires the change. It was requested by Congress in order to make additional radio bandwidth available for emergency broadcasts and communications.This change is set to have a fairly substantial impact on everybody who watches television using a typical antenna. The standard ‘rabbit ear’ antenna will no longer be adequate to receive a television signal, unless your television already has a digital tuner. For the most part, if you have purchased a television in the last year or so it most likely has an integrated digital tuner. On the other hand, if your TV is maybe several years old it’s possible that you may be faced with a loss in signal when the switch is made to all-digital broadcast.If you have an older analog television that does not have a digital tuner you can avoid losing your television signal with a set-top digital converter box available during the transition period for between $40 and $80. These converter boxes will be available in retail stores during the transition. To offset the cost of the converter box the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce made coupons available. The coupons are for $40 apiece, and you can find more information from the government’s DTV transition website located here.At this time there is a waiting list for the coupons, and the program no longer has any funding. This may mean you will not be able to get a coupon before the transition takes place on February 17th, but it should not affect your ability to purchase a set-top converter box. It does mean you will have to pay full price for the converter box.You may have more time to get ready for the transition, if you need to do anything at all. The new U.S. administration under President Obama is pushing to delay the date of the transition for three months. The new date of the transition would be June 12th. The new administration, and many Democrats on Capitol Hill make the argument that a delay is necessary so that many consumers, especially to the poor and elderly, do not lose their TV reception when the change is made to the broadcast format. If this goes through, and at this time it is expected to. You would not be required to purchase a converter box or television with integrated DTV tuner until the summer.Additional reading: