On February 17, 2009, full power television broadcasting stations are mandated by the government to switch their signals to a digital format. Older televisions that only receive analog signals will be unable to receive new digital signals without being connected to cable or satellite systems, or they must be connected to an HD TV Converter Box.
The HD TV Converter Box will provide a digital to analog signal conversion that enables older televisions to receive new digital signals. Without this accessory box, there will be no reception. The government is providing special $40 coupons, two to a household until March 31, 2009 or until supplies run out, to offset the estimated $40 to $70 cost per box. The coupons are only good on certain converter boxes that must have parental control, alerts, auto-off, zoom, strength indicators, and energy saving and program guides.
With a converter box, older television sets will have digitally clear sights and sounds, making an old TV like new. Many boxes still have trouble synchronizing sound and video on certain channels. Back in 2003, the government decided that manufacturers should stop making analog television sets, and make digital capable sets. The reason was projections of a disappearing audience watching over the air broadcast signals. The Consumer Electronics Association estimates that by 2009, only about 6.8% of viewers will be watching over the air broadcasts, as most viewers now have cable or satellite services.
To apply for a government coupon to use when purchasing an HD TV Converter Box, you can apply online, or call the coupon program 24/7 at 1-888-388-2009, or mail in an application to PO BOX 2000, Portland, OR 97208-2000. You can download an application from the internet site and fax it to 1-877-388-4632. TTY service is available for the deaf also. Complete information is available at the government website, www.dtv2009.gov. Coupons are only good for 90 days from their mailing date.
Only certain converter boxes are eligible for use with these coupons, but the list is very long. It can be found here: Coupon Eligible Converter Boxes: https://www.ntiadtv.gov/cecb_list.cfm. The coupons look like a store gift card, and can only be used on eligible boxes.
The government decided it is in the public interest to change to digital broadcast signals to free up the broadcast spectrum for public services. Space is needed for police, fire, and emergency services, and it will open more room for wireless channels. A digital broadcast station can broadcast multiple channels over the former single analog channel, offering more programming for the public. With the HD TV Converter Box, you can receive all those new HD channels.
Cable and satellite subscribers with analog televisions will still get reception through those companies without purchasing a new converter box. Battery run analog televisions will need to be hooked up to a converter box for reception. Without the converter box, or a new television that already contains an internal digital system, there will be no reception over the air from full power broadcast stations.