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Digital Television Transition 101

On February 17, 2009 you may wake up to a blank screen. No morning news, mid-day talk shows, or primetime shows will be displayed on your television. Beyond the inconvenience of not being able to watch the new episode of Ugly Betty or the next sports game, having no access to television can be a potential crisis for individuals who depend on television to inform them of the world around them.

Here are a few answers to some of the questions you may have regarding DTV.

Why is a conversion happening?
All television stations since the beginning of its creation have been broadcasting using Analog signal. The federal government has mandated that as of February 17, 2009 all stations have to switch and broadcast using a Digital signal. The practical purpose behind this is that the government wants to free up our broadcast airwaves for other uses (i.e. wireless technology and public services such as the police dept., fire dept., etc.)

What options do I have in order to be prepared?
It essentially comes down to three options:

1. Keep your TV and purchase a converter box.
2. Get a TV with an internal digital tuner. Meaning the TV already comes equipped to process the signal to your television.
3. Purchase Satellite TV or Digital Cable.

The latter two options incur a financial burden on the individual. DirectTV and Comcast Cable can be an added expense that people may not be able to afford.

For option 1, here is what you need to do.

Apply for a $40 coupon provided by the Federal Government.
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The federal government has made $40 coupons available to the general public, up to 2 per household, that can be used towards the purchase of a converter box. On average converter boxes cost around $60, meaning you would have to pay the remaining balance.

To apply for a coupon, visit: https://www.dtv2009.gov/

Other Resources:
Twin Cities Public Television-TPT has a great website with more answers to specific questions regarding the DTV conversion as well as instructional videos to help you connect your converter box. These videos are available in English, Spanish, Hmong, and Somali. The information on their website is also available in eight other languages.
Visit TPT at: www.tpt.org/dtv