Don’t Touch That Dial

Dec 29, 2008 1:04pm

It’s been called the biggest shift in television service since color, but it’s really more than that.  When color TV began, people, at least, could still watch their old black-and-white sets. When broadcast television switches to digital transmission on February 17, analog TV sets that still use rooftop antennae or rabbit ears will no longer be able to get a signal.  If you have cable or satellite service, or you get a converter box, you’re fine, no matter how old your set.  If you have a set purchased since March 1, 2007, you’re also fine — but the industry estimates that something like 70 million TV sets won’t be fine.  The FCC has more information HERE. To help those folks along, the FCC is offering vouchers to help pay for converter boxes — but the transition can hardly be without hiccups. If you go HERE, you can get a $40 voucher to pay for the set-top box (they typically run about $40-70) — but in response to a query from Rep. Ed. Markey (D-Mass.), the FCC says it expects to get about 60 million requests for coupons.  In the period from Dec. 10 to 16, it got 227,714 requests, up from a weekly average of 110,000 this year.  Even though people may get them and not redeem them, the FCC says the $1.5 billion allocated for the voucher program could run short by about $250 million.  See their summary HERE. For more info, you can go to, run by the National Association of Broadcasters.  Or you can call 1-888-DTV-2009.  (ABC has its own info HERE.) Feb. 18 may be a dicey day for a lot of TV-tech folks.  But, hey, we survived the Y2K bug, and we’ll get through this too. 

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