It started New Years Day, and will continue through 2008 until on Feb. 18, 2009, analog television broadcasts in the U.S. will cease to exist. The government has now started offering $40 coupons towards the purchase of digital-to-analog converters, which enable non-digital TVs to display digital signals. This is not only a triumph for television broadcasting but a welcome suprise for the estimated 13% of American households who don’t own digital televisions or have satellite or cable subscriptions.
Those folks who still watch analog TV over-the-air will be happy to know there is a new world of programs being offered for free over-the-air. In addition to major broadcasts like ABC, NBC and PBS, digital broadcasting allows for multi-casting, which is the ability to split the bandwidth allowed by the FCC. Additional channels can be added in the form of 2-1, 2-2, 2-3, and so on. So for example, a primetime program could be broadcast on 2-1, along with a weather channel on 2-2, and a 24hr news channel on 2-3. The FCC has also stated it will be setting aside channels for government and emergency use.
Like digital radio (more widely known as HD Radio), digital television offers viewers a wide range of crystal clear programming. With any luck, as the conversion takes place, more programming will be added to the gained bandwidth. Many TV watchers will be satisfied with the amount of channels they receive over-the-air and won’t be forced to subscribe to cable or satellite. What’s more, over-the-air signals exceed must of the overly compressed video you get through cable and satellite. On the audio side, you can’t get any better quality than uncompressed over-the-air audio.
If you would like to request one or two $40 coupons applicable towards digital-to-analog converters, the FCC has now set up a website to facilitate this. Go to https://www.dtv2009.gov/ApplyCoupon.aspx.