Coupons to Help Ease Digital TV Transition

Posted January 1, 2008 10:35 p.m. EST
Updated January 1, 2008 10:59 p.m. EST

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"The biggest concern is no one wants to be left behind with an outdated box," said Nick Dunlop, who works at an area Best Buy store.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