Monday, March 02, 2009

Hurry Up and Wait for DTV

Well, by now I had hoped that I wouldn’t be writing any more about Digital Television and I would not be at all surprised if you were wishing the same thing. For more than two years I have been periodically discussing the end of analog broadcasting which was to have happened at the stroke of midnight, February 17th. In the Late 90’s our leaders in Washington had decided that all full power TV stations in the US would broadcast exclusively in digital format. As you know by know, a week or so before that cut off date, Congress and our new President decided that the US TV viewers were still not ready for the switch. They drew a new line in the sand for midnight June 12th. So what happened?

First of all, unless you live in a cave with no TV at all, you could not have missed the saturation of TV spots, on-screen text messages and almost weekly newspaper columns warning you that if you receive TV using an antenna and analog TV you needed to make some changes. Well, according to surveys, some 10% of us did not pay attention and were not equipped to continue to watch TV after the switch.

Adding to the ill-prepared populace’s frustration, the Federal program that was to provide coupons toward the purchase of set top DTV converters ran out of money leaving millions waiting to buy the required devices. And the icing on the cake was that many who had purchased a new TV or set top converter were having problems getting them to work properly.

So where do we stand in Cincinnati? All full power TV stations, except Channel 64, are continuing to broadcast in both analog and digital formats so your old unmodified TV will still work. All local stations plan to cease analog operation no latter that June 12th. Some may decide to go off earlier in April or May.

What should you do? If you are a cable or satellite service subscriber you need do nothing. Those services will do all the conversion for you. If you have a new digital TV with an antenna and it is currently receiving the digital channels, you too are in good shape. You need to do nothing.

If you are still receiving TV using your old set and an antenna (indoor rabbit ears or outdoor roof top) you need to act. Of course you can subscribe to cable or satellite, or buy a new TV. The least expensive way to assure that it does not snow on your TV screen on June 13th is to get a DTV converter. When you get it, connect it right away. All your favorite programs and many more are being broadcast locally in digital. There is no reason to wait. By connecting it now you will see right away if you need to adjust your antenna or get a new one.

If you have not requested coupons or (AND THIS IS NEW) if your coupons expired before you used them, you can request them now. The new stimulus bill added funds to the Coupon Program. You can request two $40 coupons per household on line at or by phone at 888-388-2009.

It is unlikely that the deadline will be extended again, I think, perhaps, maybe, who knows?



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