2008-04-04 / Columnists

Notes On Consumer Affairs

By Assemblywoman Audrey Ph

AUDREY PHEFFER AUDREY PHEFFER What if you woke up one morning and turned on your television only to find that no stations came in, not a single one? On February 18, 2009, it is possible that some Americans who failed to plan for the government-mandated transition to digital television could end up in this unenviable situation. Luckily, there is still a year left for consumers to educate themselves on the transition and make any changes necessary to continue receiving free, over-the-air television broadcasts after analog transmissions cease.

The digital television transition (DTV transition) has been mandated by Congress for several reasons. First, requiring TV stations to make the switch from analog to digital transmission will free up valuable broadcast spectrum that can be used for public safety communications and advanced wireless services, including high speed wireless broadband Internet. Second, digital broadcasting technology allows television stations to provide improved picture quality and sound to consumers. Digital broadcasting also allows stations to offer several channels of programming at the same time and the ability to provide interactive data and video services.

So what equipment is needed to receive digital television? Many newer television sets already include a digital tuner, and if you subscribe to a cable or satellite television service, you're already covered, since the service converts digital signals to analog. If your analog television relies on overthe air signals, you will need to take one of several steps in order to continue receiving programming after the DTV transition. You may purchase a digital-toanalog converter box, which allows digital signals to be viewed on an analog television set. You could also purchase a television with a digital tuner or subscribe to a cable or satellite service. Fortunately, consumers who rely on over-the-air signals can take advantage of the federal government's Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program.

This program provides up to two forty dollar coupons per household to be used toward the purchase of eligible digital-to-analog converter boxes. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), digital converter boxes cost between forty and seventy dollars.

For more information on the program, or to apply for a coupon, visit: https://www. dtv2009.gov/, call the Coupon Program 24-hour hotline 1-888-388-2009, mail a coupon application (available on the Program's website) to: P.O. Box 2000, Portland, OR 97208-2000, or fax the appl 1-877-388-4632.

You may be wondering if your sion is ready for the DTV tran Many televisions manufacture the past few years contain tuners. Look for labels or marki your television that read "Inte Digital Tuner," "Digital Tuner In," "Digital Receiver," or "D Tuner," "DTV," "ATSC," or "HDT your television contains one of labels or markings, you should b to receive digital broadcasts. I television is labeled "analo "NTSC," and there is no other indicating that it contains a tuner, it likely contains an tuner only. If you are unable to mine whether your television co a digital tuner, contact your reta the manufacturer.

For more information on the television transition, visit the DTV website at: http://www.dt This site contains helpful fact shopping guides and videos o transition. You may also call 225-5322 or write to: Federal munications Commission, 445 Street SW, Washington, DC 205 you plan to upgrade to a digital sion set, and will be discardin analog set, or any other ele device, there are several optio properly disposing of such items the Consumer Electronics A ation's Green Electronics webs http://www.mygreenelectronics.o information about recycling con electronics.

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