Feb 11 2009
On Thursday, February 5, 2009, Congress delayed the digital television transition until June 12, 2009. The bill allows broadcasting stations to cease analog transmission at any date between Feb. 17th (original date) and June 12th (new date). Many of the major broadcasting stations have made the decision to cease analog broadcast on June 12th instead of the original Feb. 17th date, allowing more time for those who are not prepared.
The History and Why:
Back in 2005, Congress passed the Digital Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005, requiring full-power broadcast of analog television to stop after February 17, 2009. By making the change to exclusively broadcast in digital, the wireless spectrum will be freed up for public safety communications and new/expanded wireless technologies. Broadcasting in digital for television services is more efficient than analog; a digital signal can carry more information than the current analog signal. As a result, your television will have better picture, sound, and more television programs. This is the most significant change to your television since the conversion to color. With this change comes the question, “Is your television capable of receiving only a digital signal?”
The latest estimate for unprepared Seattle residents is at 5.67 percent, approximately 31,000 households.
Here’s a quick recap of “What you Need to Know” about the digital television transition.
- 1. TV sets currently receiving programming through cable or satellite are not affected from this transition.
- 2. Analog TV sets that rely on an over-the-air signal via an antenna to receive their television signal are affected and will not receive a viewable signal on February 17, 2009 / June 12, 2009. Use this website to check if your television is digital or analog.
If you fall under this category, here are your options:
- Purchase a converter box, the least expensive converter box in the Seattle retail area is $49.99. Sign up for the $40 coupon program to offset the cost of purchasing the converter box. If you have not signed up for the coupon, you will be placed on the waiting list. The waiting list is the result of the coupon program reaching its funding limit. New coupons are being issued as unredeemed coupons pass their expiration date. As part of the economic stimulus package, an additional $650 million will be added to the coupon program. To apply for the $40 coupon, visit https://www.dtv2009.gov/ApplyCoupon.aspx or call 1-888-DTV-2009. Hang on to your expired coupons from 2008, the government will be reissuing them later in the spring of 2009. Coupons expire in 90 days, so use them as soon as possible.
- Subscribe to cable or satellite.
- Purchase a television with a built-in-digital tuner.
- 3. If you need training and help on setting up the converter box, you may visit one of these drop-in-centers in Seattle:
- Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW: Mon-Fri 9AM – 9PM
- High Point Community Center, 6920 34th Ave. SW
- Jefferson Community Center, 3801 Beacon Ave. S.
- Rainier Community Center, 4600 38th Ave. S.
- Van Asselt Community Center, 2820 S. Myrtle St.
- Yesler Community Center, 917 E. Yesler Way
- Leadership Academy, 425 SW 144th St. Burien: Mon-Fri 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM
- The City can also help by calling 206-386-1989 or visit http://www.seattle.gov/cable/digital.htm
- 4. The most common problem after installing your converter box to your television is reception problems. When the signal broadcasts in analog, weak or interfering signals would result in static or distortion on the screen. Contrary, if your antenna picks up a weak or interfering digital signal, the entire picture will disappear. Please visit the following websites for additional information regarding antenna reception:
- Consult the website tvfool.com to see what television signals are available in your neighborhood. The website analyzes the broadcast signals for a particular area.
- 5. Your old TV can now be recycled for free – please do not throw it away. For information on where you can recycle, call 1-800-recycle or go to http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/swfa/eproductrecycle/
Remember, the digital television transition will have the biggest impact on seniors and non-English speaking residents who are not aware or attuned to technology. If you know a neighbor that might be unprepared, please help them out and inform them of the change on February 17, 2009 and June 12, 2009. If you have extra coupons, the City can use them. Donate your coupon by calling Brenda Tate at 206-386-1989. Also, check with your family and friends if they have extra coupons.
The City’s Digital Television website is