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Making the Transition: Television Goes Digital

Op-Ed

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Date:
Location: Unknown


Making the Transition: Television Goes Digital

Dear Friend,

On February 17, 2009, television stations all across America will complete the digital television (DTV) transition by replacing over-the-air analog service with an improved digital format.

The DTV transition will bring numerous benefits to Americans. A digital signal means clearer, crisper pictures and enhanced sound quality—not to mention more programming choices. Digital broadcasting will more efficiently use our airwaves by freeing our broad signal spectrum. The extra space that is created will allow for more innovative telecommunications products and wireless services. In addition, as the 9/11 Commission recommended, these critical airwaves will be available for police, firemen, and emergency services personnel to communicate during a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

However, many Americans could lose their television service as a result of the DTV transition if they do not take action. In order to minimize the number of people who completely lose their television signal, considerable preparedness of each individual household is needed. This is why I strongly support the public awareness campaigns of the Nation Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), and thousands of other organizations dedicated to informing Americans about the DTV transition.

With five months to go before the DTV transition takes place, every one of my constituents must be able to receive the new digital signal. For households that already have digital TVs and/or sets connected to cable, satellite, or a fiber optic line, no further action is needed. If, however, a household's television was purchased before 2002 and is not connected to cable or satellite, it is likely the television contains an analog tuner instead of the more modern digital tuner and the signal will be lost. If this is the case, they should purchase a digital converter box, which generally ranges from $50-$80 each and can be found at most retail stores. In order to aid Americans with the costs of the DTV transition, the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration has established the "TV Converter Box Coupon Program." This program provides up to two $40 coupons per household, on a first-come, first-serve basis and takes approximately six weeks for the coupons to be processed and arrive in one's mailbox.

Despite public and private efforts to expand public awareness, inevitably some households will not make the necessary changes. Because of this, I am a cosponsor of the Short-term Analog Flash and Emergency Readiness Act (SAFER), a bill that would maintain emergency analog communications for two weeks after the DTV transition. Affected households will receive information explaining the transition and what they need to do to retain their television broadcasts. It will also allow emergency communications to be temporarily broadcasted to televisions still receiving the analog signal. I strongly believe that we must do everything in our power to ensure that no Americans are left behind in the DTV transition. I encourage everyone to spread the word to family, friends and neighbors and take the appropriate steps to ensure their household is ready for this exciting and important transition.

For Additional information:

Setting up your digital-to-analog converter box

TV Converter Box Coupon Program

What you need to know about DTV

Sincerely,

Phil Hare
Member of Congress


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