Less than a year from now, on Feb. 17, 2009, TV stations will cease analog broadcasting as federal rules require stations to transmit their signals digitally. Millions of viewers who watch television over the air using a set-top or rooftop antenna will have to take some sort of action by then to continue to watch. So, what do you need to do? Read on:
Q. Do you subscribe to a paid TV service, such as cable or satellite?
If YES, then: You’re ready. No matter what level of service you get, you’ll still be able to receive TV programming come Feb. 17, 2009.
If NO, then: Does every TV in your house have a built-in digital tuner? (If it was built in March 2007 or later, it does. If it was built in 2004 or later, it probably does. If it was built in 1998 or earlier, it doesn’t. If you’re not sure, check your owners manual or the manufacturer’s Web site.)
If NO, then: You need to take action. For each TV you own without a tuner, you must do one of the following:
OPTION 1 (cheapest): Buy an analog-to-digital converter box that plugs into an existing television. Boxes are available at more than 250 electronics retailers, including Best Buy, Circuit City, Sears, Target and Wal-Mart. Average cost: $50 to $70.
OPTION 2: Subscribe to a satellite or cable provider, and make sure each TV you want to watch is connected to service.
OPTION 3: Ditch the old TV and buy one with a built-in digital tuner. (Sets made since March 2007 are required by law to have the tuner installed.)
SAVE: Through March 2009 you can apply for up to two $40 coupons per household, good toward the purchase of a converter box. The coupons are good for 90 days after the date they’re mailed. Retailers accept only one coupon per converter box.
MORE QUESTIONS: visit www.dtv2009.gov or call 888-388-2009.