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Moving Beyond 'Rabbit Ears'

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

What is the digital TV transition?

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On Feb. 17, 2009, TV broadcasters will no longer air traditional analog signals, which are usually received with "rabbit ear" or rooftop antennas. After this date, broadcasters will air only digital signals, which are considered to provide better sound and picture quality and will let stations air several programs at the same time.

Why is it happening?

As mandated by Congress, some of the airwaves now used to send analog TV programming will be used to provide new wireless services and communication networks for public safety agencies.

What do you need to do?

If you use an older analog TV set and rely on antennas to receive shows, you have three options to keep watching TV. You can get a digital TV, which comes equipped with a digital tuner. You can subscribe to cable or satellite service.

Or you can buy a digital-to-analog converter box, which costs $50 to $80 at retail stores such as Radio Shack, Circuit City and Best Buy. You can order a $40 coupon from the government. If you want to continue to receive low-powered community stations, you will need a converter box with an analog-pass-through feature.

Where can you go for help?

· To order a converter-box coupon and see a list of retailers, visit http://www.dtv2009.gov or call 888-DTV-2009. For Spanish, visit http://www.dtv2009.gov/es.

· For more information about the transition, visit http://www.dtv.gov or call 888-CALL-FCC. In Spanish, visit http://www.dtv.gov/spanish.

· For more information in Spanish on the transition, visit http://www.univision.com or http://telemundo.yahoo.com.


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