n February 17, 2009 all full-power broadcast television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting on analog airwaves and begin broadcasting only in digital. Digital broadcasting will allow stations to offer improved picture and sound quality and additional channels. Find out more about whether or not you will be impacted by the digital TV (DTV) transition.
What Is Digital Television?
Digital Television (DTV) is an advanced broadcasting technology that will transform your television viewing experience. DTV enables broadcasters to offer television with better picture and sound quality. It can also offer multiple programming choices, called multicasting, and interactive capabilities.
Converting to DTV also will free up parts of the scarce and valuable broadcast spectrum. Those portions of the spectrum can then be used for other important services, such as public and safety services (police and fire departments, emergency rescue), and advanced wireless services.
The Transition to Digital TV
TV stations serving all markets in the United States are airing digital television programming today, although most will continue to provide analog programming through February 17, 2009. At that point, full-power TV stations will cease broadcasting on their current analog channels, and the spectrum they use for analog broadcasting will be reclaimed and put to other uses.
The Commission’s digital tuner rule specifies that as of March 1, 2007, all new TVs must include digital tuners. This rule prohibits the manufacture, import, or interstate shipment of any device containing an analog tuner, unless it also contains a digital tuner. Despite this prohibition on manufacture and shipment, retailers may continue to sell analog-only devices from existing inventory. As a result, at the point of sale, many consumers may not be aware that this equipment will not be able to receive over-the-air-television signals after February 17, 2009.
To address this issue, the FCC has adopted a rule requiring sellers to display the following text if they are selling TV equipment with only an analog broadcast tuner:
CONSUMER ALERTThis television receiver has only an analog broadcast tuner and will require a converter box after February 17, 2009, to receive over-the-air broadcasts with an antenna because of the Nation’s transition to digital broadcasting. Analog-onlyÂ TVs should continue to work as before with cable and satellite TV services, gaming consoles, VCRs, DVD players, and similar products. For more information, call the Federal Communications Commission at 1-888-225-5322 (TTY: 1-888-835-5322) or visit the Commission’s digital television website at: www.DTV.gov.
Analog TVs Will Need Additional Equipment to Receive Over-the-air Television When the DTV Transition Ends
Consumers who rely on antennas (including outside antennas and “rabbit ears”) to receive over-the-air broadcast signals on TV sets having only analog tuners will need to obtain separate digital-to-analog set-top converter boxes to watch over-the-air TV. These boxes receive digital signals and convert them into analog format for display on analog TVs. Analog sets connected to such converter boxes will display digital broadcasts, but not necessarily in the full, original digital quality.
Converter Box Coupon Program
Between Jan. 1, 2008, and March 31, 2009, all U.S. households will be eligible to request up to two coupons, worth $40 each, to be used toward the purchase of up to two, digital-to-analog converter boxes. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has responsibility for administering the coupon program. (Please note that these coupons will expire 90 days after mailing). More information can be found at www.DTV2009.gov.
Cable and Satellite TV
Cable subscribers may need new DTV equipment to view DTV programming in digital format. You should ask your cable provider what you will need and when.
Satellite subscribers may need new DTV equipment to receive and view high definition digital programming. You should ask your satellite company what you will need and when.
Digital television Quality Levels
|There are many quality levels of digital television programming. The most common are:|
|Standard Definition TV (SDTV) – SDTV is the basic level of quality display and resolution for both analog and digital. Transmission of SDTV may be in either the traditional (4:3) or widescreen (16:9) format.|
|Enhanced Definition TV (EDTV) – EDTV is a step up from Analog Television. EDTV comes in 480p widescreen (16:9) or traditional (4:3) format and provides better picture quality than SDTV, but not as high as HDTV.|
|High Definition TV (HDTV) – HDTV in widescreen format (16:9) provides the highest resolution and picture quality of all digital broadcast formats. Combined with digitally enhanced sound technology, HDTV sets new standards for sound and picture quality in television. (Note: HDTV and digital TV are not the same thing â€” HDTV is one format of digital TV.)|