Monday, July 14, 2008

Help Others With DTV Issues

Over the past few months I have written extensively in this blog about the upcoming analog TV shutdown next February. We have discussed your options for continuing to receive your favorite channels and how you can apply to the Federal Government for coupons to help pay for set top DTV converters if you need them.

If you are regular reader of my column you will remember that that I have been stressing that if you are a cable or satellite service subscriber, you need to do nothing, as both the satellite and cable companies are going to continue to offer you an “analog friendly” signal. You will be able to watch programs on your current analog set. That is great news for the vast majority of TV viewers in the Cincinnati area because they are in this category. Nevertheless, a 2006 study showed that more than 100,000 homes in the area still used over-the-air broadcasting as their sole method of watching TV.

That’s a lot of people who continue to receive TV using none of this new technology. For those individuals to continue to watch TV post February of next year, they must either replace their set with a digital TV or buy a DTV converter for their old TV. Unfortunately many of these persons are elderly or shut ins and don’t understand what they need to do. Many don’t realize that they are eligible for the coupons.

I suggest that even if you don’t need a coupon for yourself, you go ahead and apply for them. When they arrive you can give them to someone who needs a converter. This is perfectly legal as long as you don’t sell the coupons.

Who my need one? Good examples are persons living in nursing homes or extended care facilities. Many living there have had trouble getting coupons since there is usually a single street address for the facility and the government did not take that into consideration when it set up the program. It provides only two coupons per mailing address. Many individuals living in these facilities are the very people who need the DTV converters the most and many not only can’t get out to buy one, but don’t have a coupon to help defray the cost.

If you have a friend or relative in this situation, ask them if they know about the February cut off and if they need help making sure that they will be able to watch TV post digital transition. It may be the guy down the street or your wife’s favorite aunt.

Even if you have cable, there is another reason to get a DTV converter. If the cable goes out you will not be able to switch to receiving over-the-air if you don’t have a converter. Also, many of us have second or third sets in the bedroom or garage not connected to cable. Each of these will be useless without a converter.

It may seem like I am devoting an inordinate amount in this column to this issue. Getting ready now, sending for the coupons now, and purchasing and installing the converters now, will save a ton of hassle later. Finding a converter box or someone to help you install it on Wednesday, February 18, 2009 will not be easy. Let’s hope that the only snow you see on that morning will be on the ground and not on your TV screen.

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Blogger ESender said...

Installing the DTV converter is another question. I've posted a note on my experience at

4:36 PM  

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