Will I need a Digital TV Receiver in June?

Note - of course you know by now that the digital TV receiver changeover is over... just leaving this page here for archival purposes... enjoy a bit of TV history nostalgia.

Well let's just say you may need a digital TV receiver.
There's no need to panic -- chances are good that you are already prepared for the 2009 changeover and don't know it. As you may have heard, all "full-power" broadcast television stations will be transmitting only a digital signal by June 12, 2009 - a delay of four months from the original date. The normal, analog signals which have been flying about the atmosphere since the dawn of broadcast television will cease for "full power" TV stations only.

A "Full-Power" station is the FCC designation for the majority of TV stations throughout the US. They are your normal network affiliates and independent stations that are transmitted in various sized market areas across the country usually referred to as "local channels". However, there are approximately 8,400 stations in the US that the changeover will not affect. Those stations are "Low Power TV" stations (aka LPTV), "Class A" stations and "Translator" stations. More about those later.

Rabbit Ears TVs will need a Digital TV Receiver

You will indeed need a digital TV receiver or digital converter box only if you currently receive full power broadcast TV over the air via an antenna. Viewers mainly affected by the changeover will be those in rural areas not served by cable. However, a lot of those folks already receive their TV programming via satellite so that's not too big of a deal. If you get your TV programming via satellite or cable you are OK - or if you have an HDTV (or even the rare SDTV) with a built in digital tuner you don't need an additional digital TV receiver. Cable companies are required by the FCC to continue to provide local channels as analog signals until at least 2011 as long as they offer any analog service as an option. Satellite TV programming, such as Dish Network and DirecTV, are already digital signals. The digital satellite signals are converted to analog by the receiver and are output via audio/video and "F" type connections. HDMI equipped satellite and cable boxes retain the signal in the digital domain.

The aforementioned LPTV, Class A and Translator stations that will not be affected by the changeover account for only a small fraction of the total broadcast stations in the US and therefore a small margin of TV viewers/owmers. There are over 2,100 LPTV stations in the US that provide localized service to rural and special interest groups. A step up from the LPTV stations is the Class A station (of which there are only about 600 total) which has signal interference protection and must carry a minimum of three hours a week of originally produced programming. And then there are the approximately 4,700 TV Translator stations which merely relay a local broadcast station to hard-to-reach areas that are geographically restricted from a normal broadcast signal -- such as an area shielded from a major market by mountainous terrain or those areas far from a local station's transmission. Translator stations are basically a "repeater" of the local station's distant signal.

If you're in one of the fraction of households that need a digital TV receiver to continue to watch broadcast TV the US government has a program in place to help defray the cost of purchasing such a set-top box (STB). Go to - www.ntia.doc.gov/dtvcoupon - to receive a $40 coupon toward the purchase of a converter box. Two coupons per household are available.

Here's a humorous and satirical look at the DTV situation below from Talkshow with Spike Ferensten on FOX -- with no offense intended to any of our valued Senior Citizens...
Click the play button and ENJOY. :)

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