America’s Switch To Digital Television Approaches


In six months from now, millions of TVs across the nation will stop working.  That’s right, on February 17, 2009, America’s TV stations will cease to broadcast any sort of analog programing and switch to a completely digital signal. For many residents of the nation who use a traditional antenna signal, this means the household television will no longer pick up a signal.

TV stations are all airing digital programming today, however, Feb. 17 is the day they discontinue the use of the analog system. TVs that use an antenna signal will not pick up any activity on the screen. 
In 2005, Congress passed an act that stated analog TV will be discontinued in order to free up radio and TV signals for more programming. The switch to digital will also improve vision and sound quality for users. TV viewers who already use digital television, satellites or cable services will not be affected in Feb. However, those who still use an antenna will need to make some adjustments.

“The cheapest thing you can do is apply to the National Telecommunication and Information Administration for a voucher,” Dr. Kenneth Colwell, professor of Communications at St. Ambrose University, said. “They’re giving out two vouchers per household which can be used on converter purchases.”

Converters can easily be plugged into an existing analog TV to switch programs over to digital. They cost anywhere from $40 to $70. With the voucher, $40 of the expenses will be covered on the converters.


“The vouchers take a couple months to receive, but you have 90 days to test it out since stations already use digital,” Colwell added. 

Colwell says that minorities and the elderly are expeted to be the segments of population that will most likely not make the switch to digital in time and will be left without signal.  
Subscribing to a cable or satellite service or buying a television with a digital tuner are other options to avoid analog signal problems in Feb.  Ready or not, however, the deadline is approaching.

To apply for your $40 converter box voucher log on to or call toll free 1-888-388-2009 (1-888-DTV-2009).
If you have more questions about digital TV get the answer at

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