Digital TV Questions and Answers

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Q What is the digital transition?

A The digital TV transition is the switch broadcasters will make from carrying traditional analog television signals to digital signals. Broadcasters will stop carrying analog signals at midnight on Feb. 17, 2009, freeing up airwaves for wireless services and public-safety communications. Most television stations will continue broadcasting their programming in both analog and digital signals until the deadline.

What is the difference between analog and digital television?

Analog the traditional way signals have been transmitted over the airwaves. Digital TV is a new technology that transmits picture and sound as "bits." Digital signals are more efficient and require fewer airwaves, allowing broadcasters to produce additional signals. Digital TV transmits higher-resolution pictures and better sound quality.

Will I need a new TV?

Analog television sets will continue to work after Feb. 17, 2009, but owners of these TVs will need to obtain a converter box to change digital broadcasts back into the old analog format. If your TV has a digital tuner, it will not be affected. If you subscribe to cable or satellite service, you should not be affected by the transition.

How do I get a converter box?

Converter boxes will be available in retail outlets starting in January and will cost $50 to $70. Congress has allocated $1.5 billion for coupons to be used toward the purchase of converter boxes. Each coupon have a $40 value and will expire 90 days after received by the consumer. Each household can request two coupons. If you live in group facility, you may need to ask a friend to buy one for you.

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