Coupons to Help Ease Digital TV Transition

Posted January 1, 2008

— Next year, television will experience the biggest change since color replaced black and white, and consumers might have to make some changes to continue watching.

In February 2009, stations will begin broadcasting only digital signals. Special converters will be needed to continue watching over-the-air television on older analog sets.

"It will take the digital signal that's coming in at that point and convert it back to analog so they can still use their TV," said Monique Hill, who works at an area Best Buy store.

People that have cable or satellite TV service will be able to receive the digital signal on their older sets without a converter.

The federal government began offering coupons Tuesday to help pay for the converters. The boxes will cost $50 to $70, and each household can apply for two $40 coupons to help pay for them.

Stores like Best Buy will soon start selling digital converter boxes.

"The biggest concern is no one wants to be left behind with an outdated box," said Nick Dunlop, who works at an area Best Buy store.

Employees at electronics stores have been answering a stream of questions recently about the changeover and have tried to dispel myths about the digital transition.

"Most people are just concerned, scared that their TVs are just not going to work," Hill said.

John Griffin and his family were shopping Tuesday for a way to keep an older set running with rabbit ears.

"It's either get the box or just get a digital television," Griffin said. "If the government is behind the push (to digital) ... they should make the transition easier."


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  • jenn27537 Jan 2, 2008

    o.k. so does this only apply to people that still use an antenna.

  • ohmygosh Jan 2, 2008


    Then why are so many broadcasts in widescreen format cutting off heads? I really believe the aspect ratio is forcing it for close shots. Not enough vertical space unless head is tiny.

    The only way a HDTV will be displayed on a standard set as full screen will be :
    1) It is one of the multiple four near-standard definition, standard aspect ratio pix being broadcast.
    2) Left and right pix areas of a true HDTV pix will be cut off.
    (not a likely option for presently concieved converter boxes)

    The opposite can also be true. Standard def pix displayed on HDTV can have blank sides-- unless forced by the TV to be stretched in that direction. I find those stretched pix quite unnatural and unpleasant. All the old format reruns may indeed show up this way.

    It really doesn't matter. Broadcast TV is likely to be dead soon anyhow.

  • Titus Pullo Jan 2, 2008

    Kill your television.

  • WhatsInAName Jan 2, 2008

    ohmygosh - HDTV does not equal digital tv does not equal widescreen tv. There are digitial TV signals that are not HDTV and there are HDTV signals that have the 4:3 aspect ratio of normal TV. Standard TVs with a converter box will show a either a full screen picture or they will show a letterbox screen. They will not cut parts off of anything. I know becuase I work in this industry.

  • Tidbit Jan 2, 2008

    WhatsInAName - THANK YOU. It could not have been said better.

    TV are not a right. It's a luxury.

  • Oh Snap. Jan 2, 2008

    This has been coming for a long...just get a new TV. Heck, I bought my HDTV 5 years ago.

  • ohmygosh Jan 2, 2008

    These frequencies for HDTV are US. FCC controls them. It is not a world wide change.

    This is more of the HDTV fiasco. The govt expected consumers to act like lemmings and jump off a financial cliff because of the political decision to go to HDTV.

    Good luck in finding a box that will fill your screen instead of giving you a narrow band of pix across your old TV. In fact good luck in finding one at all-- much less in the under $100 range. You can be sure the early arrivals are likely to be of poor quality with poor features. There may be no late arrivals either.

    Too bad they adopted the obsolete "silver screen" aspect ratio instead something with a greater height/width ratio. You have to buy a HDTV with 33% greater width to get the same pix height.
    Either you settle for a tiny vertical pix or buy a new TV cabinet to put the HDTV monster in. The greater definition doesn't help the older crowd at all.

    Enjoy the cut off heads and reruns of I Love Lucy in HIDEF.

  • WhatsInAName Jan 2, 2008

    In answer to a few questions, first, most other first world countries have already switched over to digital or are planning on it in the near future.

    Second, this has nothing to do with more marketing revenue or better picture quality. There is not enough bandwidth left to meet all the needs of our society. Every new cellphone, walkie-talkie, CB, upgraded emergency response system, satellite TV, satellite radio, GPS, toll-road transponder, wireless computer network, etc. takes up bandwidth. Analog devices take up to 8x the bandwidth of digital devices. As stated before, the government has tried to fix this several times, each time pushing the date further and further back.

    Lastly, witht the coupons, the government is talking about $10 per household to have a working TV. Give up two packs of smokes or a bottle of wild turkey if you need your TV so bad.

    Lastly, remember, there are lots of better things to do with your time than watch TV. Besides, when did TV become a right?

  • oldrebel Jan 2, 2008

    Is this change in bandwidth use worldwide? Or is this yet another "We're going make the changes regardless how it hurts us, for the good of the rest of the world"...a la the Kyoto Accord that Al Bore would have us endure.

  • JuanGrande v3.0 Jan 2, 2008

    They have aonly been promoting this changeover for more than eight years. The original date was 2002, then pushed back to 2005, and now to 2008. The government delayed twice because they were worried the no-loads of society would complain.