Category Archives: DTV Transition

List of TV Stations that May Not Be Allowed to Switch Early-on February 17

Don't let your TV go blank!

Don't let your TV go blank!

A few days ago I posted a list of TV stations that had applied to turn off their analog signals on February 17th. In some areas, all the major network affiliates requested early shut off. This could leave people who live in those areas and are not yet prepared–by subscribing to cable, satellite or with an antenna plus DTV or an antenna plus converter box– without any national news.

If these stations want to make the change on February 17th, they must certify that they will take extra steps to ensure that their viewers won’t be left in the dark. Here is the FCC document explaining what they steps a station must take.

Check out the updated list...TV stations that want to make the early switch that are in the cities that are highlighted in blue on my chart, may have to certify that they have reached out to their community. Also, they may have to continue to broadcast analog signals for another month regardless.

Here’s a great article with more detail and explanation from television broadcast dot com.

HAVE AN EXTRA COUPON? NEED A COUPON? Retrevo.com has set up an unofficial program to share extra $40 converter box coupons with those that need them (There’s a waiting list) So, if you have an extra…help someone out.

Do you need a DTV converter box? Time to get a coupon.

Do you need a DTV converter box? My mother’s friend is not great with electronics, but darned if she didn’t learn to program her VCRs. In fact, she has two VCRs. She connects both VCRs and both TVs to a rooftop antenna, being the practical, frugal gal she is. Often, she uses both VCR’s at the same time to record TV shows on two different channels. She may even watch a third program on her TV too. And if she has a friend over, they may be watching a fourth program on the TV in the other room. For my mother’s friend, she will need a total of 4DTV converter boxes. One for each TV or component that uses an antenna and changes channels. (If she had cable or satellite TV, she would not however have the problem and it may be time to recommend a couple of cable boxes with built-in DVRs). She will only be able to request two $40 coupons to purchase converter boxes. The other two boxes, she’ll have to pay full retail for.

Here’s what’s going on…

You may be seeing commercials about the DTV transition in 2009. To take the sting out of your having to buy a device so your analog equipment will continue to receive TV broadcasts over antenna after the transition on Feb 17, 2009, the government is issuing $40 coupons (up to 2 per household) that you can redeem when purchasing a DTV converter box at your local electronics retailer. DTV converter box coupons are now available by request at the government’s website. You may have to wait to receive them, but you want to get your request in. Okay, what does this mean? And do YOU need a coupon, or two, or how many conveter boxes do you need.

If you get your programming by antenna for any component in your home (you don’t have cable or satellite), and it’s not an HDTV or a new DVD recorder (2007), you will probably need a converter box.

Let’s be more clear. If you use an antenna –rooftop or rabbit ears– and you change channels on a device– whether it’s changing channels on a TV or a VCR or a DVD-recorder–you will need a converter box for EACH device on which you change channels.

You see, a component or TV uses a tuner to change the channels. The analog TV broadcasts we’ve been watching all these years use the NTSC analog broadcast standard. The components use analog tuners receiving those channels to tune in to (or change) different channels.

But now everything is becoming digital. The TV broadcasts will be sent digitally, received by your antenna and it will need an ATSC digitaltuner that can convert the signals to be shown on your analog TV (or digital TV without a built in tuner–like a monitor or an older model “HDTV ready” TV).

I’ll keep writing about it. If you have questions, check out the gov website, post a question or click on “ask the guru” on my home-electronics survival website.

DTV transition:Does it affect YOU?

More on the DTV transition. Does it affect you? Look around your home at every component, every TV, VCR, DVR, etc. Where does the TV broadcast come from? Does it come from cable TV? Satellite? Or is any device connected to an antenna? If you use an antenna for any device, and it is a traditional analog device (that is, it’s not an HDTV or new HD device with a built in “ATSC” tuner)–if you change the channels on that device (i.e. you’re not using a cable box)…then you will be affected. For the rest of us cable and satellite users, you’ll hardly notice the February 17th 2009 date, other than your picture might be marginally better.

When they turn off the analog broadcasts, it will be replaced by digital broadcasts. An analog tuner can only pick up analog broadcasts, so a traditional analog TV, VCR, etc. needs an “ATSC” tuner that can pick up the digital signals and convert them to analog for the TV or device to use and display.

In January of 2008, you will start noticing more information about this. The government is planning a huge snail mail and media campaign. You will be notified that coupons will be available to substantially reduce the cost of digital TV converter boxes. IF YOU HAVE ANY TVs OR OTHER TRADITIONAL DEVICES THAT ARE HOOKED UP TO AN ANTENNA–YOU WILL WANT TO GET A VOUCHER AS SOON AS THEY COME OUT. There will be a second wave of coupons (or vouchers) available later, but there will be limitations on getting the second wave of coupons.

Another thing about the coupons…you may request them, yet not receive them for some time. This is because the coupons will only be good for 90 days from receipt in the mail, then they’ll expire and you’ll have to try for the second wave or pay full price for the converter box. So, pay attention and get one when they come out. To find out more check out the dtv transition links to the right of this or check out this great Associated Press video

Also, I want to comment on Bob’s comment. He is absolutely correct. In the early days talking about the digital transition the channels were broadcast on the UHF channels and there has been a change so that your local channel 7 will remain at the channel 7 VHF frequency. So, thanks Bob.

I haven’t had a chance to get on and write as I have been doing a lot of industry writing and I am updating my book “The Home Electronics Survival Guide.” The new book will be more about Home Theater and should be easier to read as I’ve learned a lot from my readers in the past year or so.

Heading toward dtv (digital TV) transition

Well, February 17, 2009 is the last day of analog TV broadcasts. There’s lots of information, buzz and rumor going around and I will be posting blogs to keep you up to date. I will be writing a series of blogs to make you familiar with the transition. Read ahead and if it doesn’t all sink in because of the jargon…know that I will cover each term later (like bandwidth, broadcast standard, digital and analog, frequency, tuners and more)or you can look them up here
First, what does the digital tv transition mean?

Since the early days of TV broadcasts a standard was created called NTSC so all broadcasters would send a signal that all TVs would be able to receive and show the programs.
With the invention of HDTV, and computers making it possible to send TV programming digitally (like the way the internet comes to your computer), digital television became possible.
The advantages were that you could get a much better picture and full digital surround sound that puts you in the middle of the sound. Another advantage was that there wouldn’t be interference from one channel to the next.
After the digital transition all local TV stations will send their programs digitally on the ATSC bandwidths (think frequency like tuning into a radio station– the ATSC bandwidth is on the UHF channel bandwidth like those TV channels above 13.)
Next up…Why should YOU care?