Conversion to Digital Television Broadcast Must Begin Soon
By Congressman Michael Turner
It is time for American households to start preparing for the conversion of all over-the-air television broadcasts. Currently, television stations provide broadcasts in both analog and digital formats. Starting February 18, 2009 television broadcasting will only be available in digital and those consumers with analog-only televisions will no longer be able to receive service.
In order to prepare for this transition, Congress has taken steps to insure that the country is ready to cross the bridge from traditional analog to digital broadcasting. Specifically, Congress established a digital-to-analog converter box program administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the Department of Commerce that will partially subsidize consumer purchases of converter boxes. In addition, through public education and outreach we can help make certain that Americans are prepared for the digital transition.
Why is the nation transitioning to digital television? One of the key drivers behind the digital transition is to reclaim a portion of the analog spectrum currently occupied by television broadcasters. Digital television uses radio frequency spectrum more efficiently than traditional analog television, thereby “freeing up” bandwidth. The goal of the FCC and Congress is to complete the transition so that the analog spectrum could be reclaimed and subsequently reallocated for other purposes.
Some of the analog spectrum has been auctioned off for commercial wireless services and some will be used for new public safety communications services. In addition, the revenue raised in the spectrum action will be returned to the U.S. Treasury, thereby contributing toward the federal budget.
Another rationale for the digital transition is that aside from offering a superior television viewing experience to consumers, DTV will give over-the-air broadcasters the capability to offer more channels of programming as well as the ability to offer similar digitally-based services offered by cable and satellite television providers.
If you or a friend or family member currently uses an analog only television there are a few things you can do. You can either buy a digital-to-analog converter box to hook up to an analog television set, buy a digital television, or subscribe to cable, satellite, or telephone company television services, which will likely provide for the conversion to it’s customers.
The digital-to-analog converter box program provides up to two forty dollar coupons to requesting U.S. households. This coupon can be requested now until March 31, 2009 and must be used within three months after issuance toward the purchase of a stand-alone device used solely for digital-to-analog conversion.
Coupons mailed to consumers will be accompanied by information listing approved box models and local (and online) retailers certified to participate in the converter box coupon program. Please note that households eligible for converter box coupons must have a United States Postal Service mailing address. Post office box addresses are not accepted unless the applicant is a resident of a rural area without home mail delivery. The converter box program is funded by receipts from the auction of the analog television spectrum.
For further information and on information to receive digital-to-analog converter box coupons please visit www.dtv2009.gov or www.dtv.gov. If you have any other further questions please feel free to contact my Dayton district office at 937-225-2843 or 202-225-6465.