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The Digital TV Transition

What you Need to Know About DTV

The 1996 Telecommunications Act set in motion a permanent shift from analog to digital television (DTV). By June 12, 2009, all full–power TV stations will be broadcast only in digital. Digital television enhances television picture and sound quality and, more importantly, it uses our limited airwaves more efficiently.  It will free up spectrum for emergency communications, provide frequencies for advanced wireless services, and allow television broadcast stations to offer more programming.

In an effort to help consumers defray the cost of obtaining converter boxes to allow the continued function of their analog TV, the federal government created the Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program – which provides consumers with two $40 coupons to every home in the country. 

However, many Americans are ill-equipped and unprepared for the transition to digital television. Approximately 6.5 million households are still not ready for the end of analog broadcasts and face the possibility of their televisions going dark.  The DTV coupon program currently has a waitlist of over two million requests.  Additionally, many conscientious Americans requested these coupons without knowing that they expire within 90 days

There is some good news. On February 11, President Obama signed into law a bill to extend the deadline for the DTV transition from February 17, 2009, to June 12, 2009. This will give millions of Americans more time to make the transition. The law authorizes additional funding for the converter box coupon program, allows the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to issue one replacement coupon for each coupon that expired without being redeemed, and extends the deadline for requesting coupons to July 31, 2009.  It also provides broadcasters with the flexibility to make the transition before June 12 and permits the Federal Communications Commission to award vacant spectrum space to public safety officials.

Please be advised: your local broadcasters may make the transition before June 12, and some already have.

To learn more about the DTV transition, please click here