In preparation for the digital television conversion slated for February 2009, State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer (D-Mamaroneck) announced today that federal assistance will soon be available for New Yorkers who receive their television signals through antennas (known as analog technology). TV sets not connected to either cable or satellite – and those without a built-in digital tuner – will need a converter box after the digital transition occurs.
"Unless they make some changes, millions of Americans with older model televisions will lose their favorite TV shows on February 17, 2009," Senator Oppenheimer said. "But for those New Yorkers who still want to use an analog set and rabbit ears, the solution is fairly simple."
To prepare for the switch, she said, consumers can follow one of three steps by February 17, 2009:
Purchase a DTV converter box
Beginning in early 2008, consumers will be able to purchase a DTV converter box that enables continued television reception on an analog television set.
Purchase a digital TV set
Purchasing a new TV with a digital tuner will enable you to receive digital signals broadcast by television stations.
Subscribe to a television service provider
Have cable or satellite installed in your home.
The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has launched the Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program to assist with the change in technology. As of January 1, 2008, all households will be eligible to request one or two coupons to be used toward the purchase of up to two converter boxes.
Beginning on January 1, 2008, New Yorkers can request DTV converter coupons by calling 1-888-388-2009. Applications will also be available at local post offices.
"Digital broadcasting offers clearer pictures and access to more programs," Senator Oppenheimer noted. "It’s important that New Yorkers become aware of the upcoming transition. February 2009 may sound like a long way off, but it’s not too soon to start preparing."
The Westchester lawmaker noted that converter boxes are expected to cost between $50 and $70. Converter coupons are worth $40, and only one coupon can be used per converter. Converters with enhanced features, such as those with a DVD recorder, are not eligible for the federal coupon program. For more information, visit http://www.ntia.doc.gov.
"Many people are confused about whether they will have to purchase a new television set or pay for cable," Senator Oppenheimer concluded. "With their web site and toll-free number, the federal government is trying to make the switch as simple as possible. Coupons and converter boxes are expected to be available after the new year."