Wicker Offers Tips On Digital Television Transition

June 2, 2008

In the chaos that surrounded the attack on our country on September 11, 2001, as well as during Hurricane Katrina, first responders and law enforcement officials had difficulties communicating with each other due in part to a lack of usable airways that carried their transmissions.  Communication airwaves were overloaded, which impaired first responders’ ability to talk with one another. 

In order to address this problem, Congress passed legislation in 2005 requiring all local broadcast television stations to stop broadcasting in a less efficient transmission format, commonly referred to as analog, by February 17, 2009.  Local stations will switch their broadcasts to digital television, known as DTV, which is more efficient and provides a better consumer experience. This transition will free up the analog airwaves to allow first responders and the government to use them for public safety communications during future emergencies.  In addition, it will also increase rural wireless coverage for wireless devices used by consumers on a daily basis.

                                  YOU MAY BE AFFECTED
As a result of this legislation, you may have to take action to continue receiving television in your home.  It is estimated that 10 percent of households nationwide are not prepared for the digital television transition, so the first step is to determine if you have an analog television. 

Generally, televisions connected to cable, satellite or other pay services should continue to work after the transition.  Additionally, televisions purchased within the past two years likely contain built-in digital tuners that will allow the television to continue to work.  However, if you currently own an older television and receive over-the-air programming using a broadcast antenna, either through “rabbit ears” or an antenna on your roof, your television is analog and you will lose reception on February 17, 2009.

                               TRANSITIONING TO DTV
If you have an analog television, there are three solutions to help you transition to DTV.  First, you can purchase a DTV converter box which will convert the digital signal into analog, allowing you to continue using your analog television.  The federal government is sponsoring a $40 coupon program to help all households with analog televisions purchase a digital converter.  You can apply for the $40 coupons online at
www.dtvtransition.org, or by phone at 1-888-388-2009. 

Another option available to those with analog televisions is to purchase a new television.  The federal government mandated that televisions manufactured after March 1, 2007, contain a digital turner.  Finally, you can subscribe to cable, satellite, or other pay service as a way to continue using your analog television after the transition. 

                              TRANSITION IS IMPORTANT
This transition to digital television will play an important public safety function by freeing up broadcast frequencies for more effective communications during emergencies.  In addition, the change will also provide television viewers with a clearer picture, better sound, and an overall better television viewing experience. 

For more information and for answers to questions you may have, you can visit
www.dtvtransition.org or call 1-888-225-5322.   February 2009 is just around the corner, so I encourage you to plan accordingly to ensure your television service is not disrupted.