It amazes me that after months and months of heavy advertising that some people still didn't realize analog TV signals were going bye-bye in the United States yesterday. That's right. After being delayed from the original February 17, 2009 digital TV transition date, yesterday's cutoff still left 2.8 million Americans hanging. If you have an older television, no cable subscription, and are wondering why the good ol' rabbit ears are only pulling in static, check out our digital TV transition prep guide...for (finally) the final time.
You would think that after all the preparatory time, not to mention a nearly 4 month delay, that most people would be aware of and ready for the digital TV transition. Apparently that line of thinking is completely wrong. During an analog cutoff soft test, conducted on May 12, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) received 55000 calls to its DTV transition help center. The test revealed that while the DTV transition is only a few weeks away, slated for June 12, a ton of Americans still have no idea what's going on. And given there was 'only' 55000 calls and 3.3 million households were still deemed unprepared as of May 10, it's looking like the FCC call center will be plenty busy real soon.
You can find out what you need to do to prepare for the digital TV transition by checking out our comprehensive help guide.
Finally, after a long delay that played a big part in the digital TV transition delay, the government converter box coupon program is back on track. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) said this week that the 4.1 million people on a waiting list to receive their $40 coupon is being cleared, with a completion date within three weeks.
Congress recently approved a further $650 million in funding to the coupon program after it blew through the initial $1.34 billion it had received in late December. Remember that the official date for the DTV transition is now June 12, though many stations across the United States will be shutting off analog signals before that. You can find out more about what you'll need to do to avoid losing TV reception by checking our comprehensive guide to DTV 2009.
This, my friends, is what happens when the government delays the DTV transition, some stations go ahead with it anyway and a 70 year old man loses his cable while drunk. Yep, a senior man in Missouri, drunk, ticked off about the fuzz on his old TV and his inability to set up his converter box, pulled a gun on the innocent analog set and blew it away. The old hog--meaning the man rather than the TV--was arrested and charged with unlawful use of a firearm.
Now that President Obama has signed the bill delaying the digital TV transition until June 12, everybody is sitting back, once again waiting to get their old analog beaters into working shape. But if that's you, you still have to worry. Many stations are saying screw it and going ahead and shutting of their analog signals anyway. The FCC has put together a full list of us to look at, so if your TV set has rabbit ears and suddenly your picture goes fuzzy come the 17th, you may want to hit the read link.
The digital TV transition is being delayed until June 12. In a 264-158 vote, the House of Representatives voted to approve a four month delay in order to allow all Americans to get up to speed, and prepared for the loss of analog TV signals. President Obama has promised to sign the legislation which passed through Senate last week.
While TV broadcasters will be forced by law to continue broadcasting analog signals until June 12, stations can seek federal approval to switch to digital before that. In a nutshell, this means that TV stations will likely be shutting off their analog signals in a staggered fashion between February and June, causing even more confusion for everyone.
Also, because not all people who've purchased converter boxes have a model with analog pass-through, broadcasters with both analog and digital signals will cause a hassle for viewers. Some channels will require the converter box, others won't.
Lucky for anyone who's still confused, we've put together an digital TV transition guide to move you through the entire preparation process without a hitch.
The digital television transition date is still in question after the House failed to reach the two-third's majority vote supporting the Senate's bill to postpone the transition to June 12.
The digital TV transition is currently scheduled for February 17. On that day, analog TV signals will be shut off across the United States in favor of all-digital signals in order to free up spectrum for wireless networks.
But recent studies have shown that many Americans aren't prepared and will lose their TV reception should the plan go ahead on February 17. People who have older television sets without cable--typically those sets with rabbit ears--and rely solely on over-the-air signals for reception are the only people who'll be affected. Anyone with a cable or satellite plan, or with a newer digital TV are in the clear. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has been providing $40 redeemable coupons for people to purchase converter boxes that convert analog signals to digital, but a flailing economy has left the program short of cash and millions on a waiting list.
So, the date is really up in the air right now. Without a majority vote from the House, the bill which passed through Senate earlier this week won't pass uncontested. We'll keep you updated.
If consumer advocates thought that the digital TV transition was confusing before, it just got worse. Today, the United States Senate voted unanimously to delay the DTV transition, currently scheduled for February 17, up to four months to June 12. The approved bill will now head for Congress where it is expected to be approved as early as tomorrow.
Unfortunately, there are currently 2.6 million people on an NTIA waiting list for coupons as the program hit a funding snag a few months back. If the delay is approved by Congress, it is estimated to cost public broadcasters $22 million.
Your converter box not quite cutting it for good digital reception? Got some extra coat hangers laying around? John Park shows you how to make a DTV antenna out of spare coat hangers. Check out the video above and the PDF for all the instructions!
Have a DTV converter box coupon but still haven't sprung for the converter box. CompUSA.com is running a deal right now that'll net you a Apex DT502 converter box for $0.01. The actual cost of the box is $59.99 but with a currently running $19.98 instant rebate and your $40 coupon rebate, the total cost comes down to $0.01. You won't do much better than that, especially with the coupon program going broke and DTV2009 just around the corner.
You should know by now that analog signals will be shut off February 17, 2009. We've been harping on it over the past year and tried to make everyone well aware that coupons were available to save you $40 off your converter box purchase if you happened to need one. However, if you haven't already applied for a coupon you may be out of luck. The government program in charge of doling out the coupons was originally allotted $1.34 billion, but the fund is set to run out in early January. This means that Congress will need to release additional funds or late coupon redeemers might not get their money back. We'll have to see what happens, but in the meantime you can check out our digital TV transition guide and see some alternative options.
For the past year almost every article I've read regarding the DTV transition slated for February 17, 2009 has been hugely negative. The latest, titled "In Move to Digital TV, Confusion Is in the Air", argues that the lead-up to the transition is going about as well as a Nascar crash. Research analysts believe that 35 million televisions without a digital converter box could be affected by DTV 2009--if you recall, over-the-air analog signals like those picked up by rabbit ears will be nixed. Consumer associations are also concerned that while 40 million converter box coupons have been requested, only 16 million have been redeemed. Far less than 35 million definitely, but I wonder how many people just decided to spring for a newer digital tuner-equipped set given the falling HDTV prices we've seen this year?
Whatever the case may be, Congress recently approved a plan to allow analog signals to remain for 30 extra days for the sole purpose of broadcasting educational messages to consumers. And many are worried about the political upheaval that will occur after the February 17 apocalyse. But is DTV 2009 really going that badly? It remains to be seen, but from an end-consumer standpoint I'm of the opinion that a mountain is being made out of a molehill.
If you still have questions about the digital TV transition, check out TVSnob's guide book which covers all the bases to get you ready.
Comcast seems to be capitalizing on the inconvenient Converter Box Coupon program by offering up free cable for a year. Of course, there is a couple of catches here. Number one being that the free cable subscription only encompasses basic cable channels such as the free-to-air ABC, NBC, and FOX. Number two, the offer's only good if another paid subscription, such as phone or internet service, is agreed too. Really though, for those who still get all of there TV over-the-air and with growing government concern about converter box coupons running short, this isn't such a bad offer. And if you're firmly against paying Comcast for anything other than TV, the basic cable subscription can be had for $10/month for a year for new customers.
As the February 17, 2009 digital TV transition date draws closer it seems mass panic is ensuing...among regulatory bigwigs anyway. Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye is calling for the feds to step up their efforts in preparation for the big day, especially as it'll occur less than one month into the next Presidential Administration.
The DTV transition has the potential to cause serious disruption not just to consumers, but to a new President who will just be getting his feet wet
Meanwhile FCC Chairman Kevin Martin continues to push for more battery-powered DTV converter boxes and battery packs that would allow converter boxes to operate with battery-powered TV's. This is important, he says, in case of public emergencies-kind of ironic given that the spectrum opened up by ridding the America's of analog signals is supposed to be used for a public emergency system.
If you're not looking for a battery-powered box, but are needing something with analog pass-through, DISH Network's DTVPal Plus is now available. NTIA-certified, the DTVPal Plus can be ordered with your $40 converter box coupon bringing the $69.99 MSRP down to only a penny less than $30. Pretty reasonable and you can get yours at http://www.dtv2009.gov.
In addition to the usual converter box functionality, the DTVPal Plus has an enhanced tuner that allows consumers in weaker signal areas to maximize the number of over-the-air channels they receive. Plus it has analog pass-through, so those in low-power areas that won't be converting next year can still receive unconverted analog signals. For all the details check out the full release after the jump.