Preparing For The Digital TV Transition

On February 17, 2009, most analog television broadcasting in the United States will cease, with the exception of some “low-power” television stations and stations physically located in Canada and Mexico that broadcast to U.S. audiences.

After that date, most televisions bought before 2005 will not be able to tune into most over-the-air TV channels without a digital converter box; the proceeds from the FCC auction of the TV frequencies to be vacated as part of the transition are being used, in part, to provide a coupon program for consumers to buy low-frills converter boxes for their old TVs. Of course, more advanced converters and devices with digital tuners are also available, with features such as high-definition output, video cassette/DVD recording, and digital video recording, but these are not eligible for the coupons; virtually all new televisions sold in the U.S. and Canada also include a digital tuner, but again are not eligible for the subsidy program.

Over at my other blog-home, I’ve been posting brief reviews of the coupon-eligible digital converter boxes I’ve tested personally so far; as the earliest-issued coupons are nearing their expiration dates, hopefully these reviews will be helpful to others. Other perspectives and further information on many models is available at the AV Science Forum’s CECB discussion board.

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Chris Lawrence
About Chris Lawrence
Chris teaches political science at Middle Georgia State University in Macon, Georgia. He has a Ph.D. in political science (with concentrations in American politics and political methodology) from the University of Mississippi. He began writing for OTB in June 2006. Follow him on Twitter @lordsutch.