Pittsfield- State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) announces that due to Congressional action, over-the-air broadcast stations such as ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and PBS will convert to all-digital broadcasting effective February 17, 2009. It is expected that thousands of Massachusetts households will have to purchase new televisions, acquire digital converters or subscribe to cable television or another video service to watch local broadcast television stations after that date.
The switch from analog to digital broadcast television, referred to as the Broadcast Digital Television (DTV) Transition, is designed to free up a large portion of valuable broadcast spectrum used for transmissions in “analog” format so it can be used for public safety communications, including police, fire department, and rescue squad communication. Additionally, a portion of spectrum will be auctioned to companies providing consumers with more advanced wireless services, including broadband.
For consumers with one or more analog television receiving over-the-air broadcast stations using a rooftop or “rabbit ears” antenna, a “digital television receiver” with an internal digital tuner will allow viewers to continue watching free over-the-air programming after February 17, 2009. However, analog televisions will need a digital-to-analog converter box to watch broadcast TV stations.
The US Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) administers the Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program which was established to assist consumers with the DTV transition. Every US household is eligible to apply for up to two $40 coupons towards the purchase of eligible digital-to-analog converter boxes. Coupons may only be used for eligible digital-to-analog units sold at participating consumer electronics retailers at an estimated cost of $40 to $70 each. Request for these coupons are now being accepted. For more information, visit NTIA’s website at www.dtv2009.gov or call 1-888- 388-2009 (voice) or 1-888-530-2634 (TTY). Coupons will no longer be distributed after March 31, 2009 and will expire after July 1, 2009. Quantities of coupons are limited.
Consumers with analog television sets connected to local cable systems or to another video service provider will not be affected by the digital transition.
For additional information please visit www.dtv.gov and/or www.DTVtransition.org.