DTV conversion screw up

Posted in Technicalon Feb 17, 2009

In case you haven’t heard, broadcast television stations are converting from analog to digital signals. This means that those people who use an antenna to receive free television signals will need a setup capable of receiving the new digital signals. Many newer TV can receive DTV (digital TV), while older TVs like mine will need a converter box.

This conversion has been in plans for year and years, but many consumers aren’t ready for the old analog signals to be discontinued. Originally, there were plans for all analog signals to cease on February 17th, but since so many consumers were unprepared for the switch, congress decided that the plan was screwed up and they decided to do what congress does best, screw it up even more.

Congress voted to extend the conversion date until June 17th, but the problem is that they gave the TV stations the option of turning off the analog equipment anytime between now and then. So rather than having one established date for the conversion, some TV stations will turn off today, others later, and others on June 17th. This wasn’t communicated well to consumers, many of whom might be surprised when some of their TV stations switch today rather than the “extended” June 17 date.

There are 491 stations which will go digital-only on June 17, including a few PBS stations in the Denver area. A full list in PDF form is available.

An additional problem is that a government program to provide $40 coupons for purchases of converter boxes has run out of money, and although congress allowed some stations to extend their conversion date, they didn’t provide additional coupon funding as part of their analog expiration extension plan.

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