Digital TV: It's Almost Too Late

DTV conversion box coupon program logoYou may have heard that over-the-air television broadcast is converting to digital transmission on February 17, 2009. Even though that's still over two months away, if you don't act right away, like this very weekend, you may find out you are too late.

Here's what's happening: analog over-the-air television broadcasts will cease on February 17, 2009. Digital broadcasts are happening right now, and will be the only form of broadcast TV available after that time. If you depend on over-the-air broadcasts (which means you receive TV from a rooftop or rabbit ears antenna), then you need to be digital capable on that date. New televisions are required by law to have a digital tuner. Old televisions can continue to be used with an add-on digital converter box. They cost about $60 and are widely available. Each household can request up to two $40 discount coupons that can be applied to the purchase of qualified converter boxes.

There are a slew of issues that, when stacked up, say that your last chance to act is now to meet the February 17 deadline.

The first issue you'll encounter is that the current processing time for coupon requests is two to four weeks. If you add in the time for mailing, you're deadline to act is now back into the middle of January.

Demand for the converter boxes has been high. There have been reports of retailers running out of stock, but typically they restock within a few days. Still, you may need time to shop for and purchase your converter box. This brings you to the beginning of January.

(You can find useful DTV info, including a link to product evaluations, at the Consumer Reports Digital TV Transition page.)

Once you have the box, you are going to need time to setup, test, and possibly troubleshoot your new DTV installation. The installation should be quick and easy, but with these electronic gizmos who ever knows. For instance, there is a phenomena known as the "digital cliff" that may snare some people. That's where you may have a station that works with very poor analog reception, but is two weak to lock on digitally. In this case, you may need to make some antenna adjustments or improvements. So, let's allow some extra time to make sure you can get your new DTV setup in good working order. That brings us to the end of December.

Let's allow a couple extra weeks just to be safe. After all, you probably won't be able to worry about DTV transitions from your eggnog-induced stupor of the holiday season.

If you add up all these factors, it says you need to act now—this very weekend!—if you want to be sure you don't get lost in the leap to digital.

Moreover, there is no reason to delay. You can begin taking advantage of the benefits of digital reception right now. That includes improved audio and video, multicast channels (many stations are transmitting additional video streams and your new DTV tuner will receive them), on-screen program guide, closed captioning, and more.

So if you receive television by over-the-air broadcast and you haven't already made yourself digital ready, don't delay further. Visit the DTV Converter Coupon Program website and order your discount coupons now.

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Thanks for the reminder. I

Thanks for the reminder. I keep seeing the commercials but never end up going to the website to get the coupons.