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Digital Transition

DTV is coming. Are you ready?

A big change is coming to television. On June 12, 2009, America will switch to Digital Television (DTV) broadcasting. Many people will be affected, and you may be one of them.

By taking some simple steps, you can ensure that you will continue getting all the television channels you love – including Thirteen – without interruption.

Please take a few moments to read the following information. It will help you make the leap to DTV without a hitch.

What is DTV?

DTV is a new form of television based on the same kind of digital information that computers use. It offers better picture and sound quality, and the ability for broadcasters like Thirteen to offer several different channels at the same time.

How does the switch to DTV affect you?

To receive DTV, you must have the right kind of TV set and accessories. If you don’t, your TV set won’t work after June 12, 2009.

Cable and satellite subscribers – You’re all set!

If you subscribe to a pay TV service like cable or satellite, you should not have to do anything. Your service provider will take care of everything.

Viewers with antennas – You need to act!

If you don’t subscribe to cable or satellite, but instead get your TV with an antenna – either “rabbit ears” on top of your TV set or a rooftop antenna – follow these three easy steps:

  • 1) Connect your TV to cable, satellite or another pay service. If you do this, you will not need to do anything else.
  • 2) Replace your old TV with a new one that has a digital tuner. A wide range of DTV sets are available at a reasonable cost. (You will still need a new antenna. See step C, below)
  • 3) Purchase a TV converter box. This will cost you between $40 and $70. The government is offering coupons to cover a portion of the price of this box. To request your coupon, call 1-888-DTV-2009, or visit www.dtv2009.gov on the Web. (You will also need a new antenna. See step C, below.)

Please note: A wide variety of converter boxes are available. We strongly recommend purchasing one that has an “analog pass-through” feature. This will allow you to view all of Thirteen’s programming both before and after June 12, 2009. A list of converter boxes can be found at on the Web at www.ntiadtv.gov/cecb_list.cfm. The boxes with analog pass-through are marked with an asterisk. Your local electronics retailer can also help you with this purchase.

Please note: Some viewers may still have trouble receiving Thirteen DTV before June 12, 2009 – even with a dual-antenna and a converter box. This is due to the reduced-power transmitter Thirteen has been using since the destruction of the World Trade Center. If you cannot receive Thirteen DTV, you can watch the non-digital Channel Thirteen on an old-style analog television set, or by using a converter box with an analog pass-through feature, until June 12, 2009, when Thirteen will switch to a high-power DTV transmitter that will reach everyone in the viewing area.

  • A) Determine if your television has a digital tuner. Consult your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer. Some TV sets with digital turners are labeled “integrated digital tuner,” “digital receiver,” “digital tuner,” “DTV,” or “ATSC.” If you bought your TV set before 1998, it probably does not have a digital tuner. If you bought it after 2004, there is a good chance – but no guarantee – that it does have a digital tuner. Be aware, however, that a set labeled “digital monitor” “HDTV monitor” or “digital ready” may not have a digital tuner.
  • B) If your TV does have a digital tuner, it is ready for DTV and it will continue to work after June 12, 2009. However, in order to receive Thirteen without cable or satellite service, you will need a new antenna (go directly to step C below).

    If your TV does not have a digital tuner, you have three options:

  • C) In addition to a TV set with a digital tuner or a digital converter box, you will also need a dual-band antenna. This type of antenna is necessary because some DTV signals transmit on the VHF band and others transmit on the UHF band. A dual-band antenna is required to help ensure that you receive the entire range of DTV channels. A dual band antenna will be necessary even if you are receiving Thirteen DTV today. If you have only a single-band UHF antenna you may not be able to receive Thirteen DTV after the February switch. The best way to get a dual-band antenna is to ask your electronics retailer for assistance.

DTV is as simple as A, B, C.

At first glance, it may seem confusing. But it’s simple really. Follow the three steps above and you will be ready to enjoy the wonderful world of DTV. Don’t wait. June 12, 2009 will be here before you know it. Get ready for DTV today!

Watch PBS Special on How to Prepare for the DTV Transition

NOW’s Maria Hinojosa and This Old House’s do-it-yourselfers Norm Abram and Kevin O’Connor visit several homes in a Boston suburb to prepare the homeowners for digital TV. Plus, receive how-to guidance and tips to help you successfully make the switch to DTV in your home. (Note: This video was produced before the deadline for the end of analog transmission was changed from February 17, 2009 to June 12, 2009. It still contains very useful information.) And, hear the latest DTV news in the field from Maria Hinojosa, Senior Correspondent from NOW ON PBS. Visit http://www.pbs.org/dtv for more DTV tips and information.? 26 minutes.