Government Mandated End of Analog Television Set for February 17, 2009. Michigan Association of Broadcasters Developing Consumer Information and Education Program
The Michigan Association of Broadcasters (MAB) is urging Michigan citizens to make sure they are prepared for the upcoming transition to digital television. Under federal law, analog television broadcasting is scheduled to end on February 17, 2009. At that time all television broadcasting will be transmitted in a digital format only. (Note: some low power television stations will be allowed to continue broadcasting their analog signals after this date, but will also eventually be switching to a digital format)
“The transition to digital television represents a major transition in television history,” said MAB Board Chairman Bart Brandmiller, Director of Sales for Clear Channel Radio in West Michigan. “Though the transition presents some challenges for broadcasters and consumers, we will do everything in our power to see that Michigan citizens will be fully prepared.”
The federal government mandated the switch from traditional analog television to digital in order to conserve limited spectrum space at a time when demand is high for wireless devices and emergency first responder need. Digital television (DTV) broadcasts significantly higher quality pictures and sound than the analog format. DTV also provides more variety in programming through digital sub-channels or multicasting, and will vacate the current analog spectrum, leaving it available for the Federal Communications Commission to auction off for new technologies.
Traditional analog television sets are not compatible with the digital format. In order to receive digital television, consumers will need to take one of the following steps before February 17, 2009:
1) Switch to a cable, satellite or telephone company service provider, in which case analog sets will continue to function. Consumers that already receive their television signals through cable, satellite or telephone companies will see no difference, and will not be required to purchase new equipment;
2) Purchase a new TV set with a built-in digital tuner; or
3) Purchase a DTV converter box that will convert the new digital signal into the old format for an existing analog television set. Analog TV consumers may also require a new set top antenna depending on the antenna they already have.
The federal government has set aside $1.5 billion to fund a program to provide coupons towards the purchase of converter boxes. There are four ways consumers can apply for a coupon:
• Apply online at www.dtv2009.gov
• Call the coupon program’s 24-hour hot line, 888-388-2009;
• Mail a coupon application to P.O. Box 2000, Portland, OR 97208-2000; or
• Fax a coupon application to 877-388-4632.
Converter boxes will be available through many major electronic retailers.
One of the challenges in the DTV transition is ensuring that all Michigan citizens are aware of the scheduled end of analog broadcasting, and have the resources necessary to prepare their households for DTV. Of particular concern are the estimated 600,000 Michigan households that are receiving television signal on an over-the-air basis only. Many of those at-risk households represent elderly, economically disadvantaged and rural residents.
“Television is a crucial communications link to the world, and often times is the only resource for vital news and emergency information for many of our citizens,” said MAB President & CEO Karole White. “Purchasing a new television set may not be an option for many people, so we have to make sure that proper resources are in place so their access to emergency information via television is uninterrupted.”
MAB is developing a statewide information and education program that will be formally announced in February. The MAB DTV awareness campaign will involve a coalition of prominent organizations that represent many of the 600,000 at-risk households, as well as statewide television and radio public service announcements.
“MAB wants to ensure that every Michigan citizen is aware of this upcoming change and has the information they need to ensure they will continue to receive a television signal after February 17, 2009, said White.
The MAB has established a website with more detailed information about the DTV transition, which is www.michigandtv.com.