|Feb. 17, 2009 – are you ready?
What is happening on February 17, 2009?
On February 17, 2009, all broadcast television stations will cease broadcasting a normal analog signal. At this point, any television without the ability to tune in to digital broadcast signals will no longer receive any programming.
Why is analog TV going away?
Digital television is a more efficient and accurate way of broadcasting and solves many of the problems TV viewers experience with weak or distorted signals. In addition, the radio frequencies used by analog television have become very valuable for communications providers and emergency responders. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decided to free up some of these frequencies by requiring television broadcasters to stop broadcasting an analog signal on or before February 17, 2009.
What is DTV?
Digital television (DTV) uses the same digital technology as CDs and DVDs to transmit and receive television signals. Because it is more efficient than traditional analog broadcasting, digital broadcasting allows TV stations to transmit high definition television (HDTV) programming, multiple channels of standard definition (SD) programming, and even data files.
What are the advantages of DTV?
In addition to a clearer picture and sound, digital television gives viewers access to additional television channels for free over the air – including high definition channels.
Is DTV the same as high definition (HDTV)?
No. High definition (HD) is one type of digital television programming. “High definition” refers to programming that is filmed and shown using a higher screen resolution than standard definition programming (see “DTV Definitions” page for details). Most digital television programming is still filmed and shown in standard definition. In other words, you can watch most DTV programs without owning a high definition television.
Do I need a new television?
NO. Although older televisions do not have a high-definition picture, any television can be used to watch DTV programming. However, high-definition (HD) programming looks best on a newer high-definition television.
Do I need a converter box?
Maybe. Any ordinary television that receives its signal through an antenna or “rabbit ears” will need a set-top converter box to receive digital television signals. Some newer televisions have a built-in digital tuner (look for the “ATSC” symbol) and can be connected directly to an antenna. Televisions connected only to a cable or satellite service will NOT need a converter box – the cable or satellite company takes care of that. If you need a converter box, the federal government has coupons available to assist you – but keep in mind that they can only be used with certain eligible converter boxes. As an alternative, some of the new VCRs and DVD players on the market have built-in digital tuners that can be used with any television.
How can I tell if my television has a digital tuner?
In addition to the “ATSC” or digital tuner symbol on the packaging or owner’s guide, TVs with built-in digital tuners display multiple sub-channels for each station (for instance, KUEN broadcasts on 9-1 and 9-2; KUED broadcasts content on channels 7-1, 7-2, and 7-3). If you are only able to see the main station, you probably don’t have a built-in digital tuner.
Why doesn’t my picture look any better when I watch DTV?
While digital television will look and sound clearer, you may not notice a substantial improvement. Ordinary televisions can only display a standard definition picture, so high-definition programming will not look much different. High-definition programming requires three parts that must all be present:
In addition, cable and satellite companies compress their video signals, so they may not look as good. The best looking high-definition local programming comes over the air because it is not compressed by another company.