At midnight on February 17, 2009, all full-power television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting in analog and switch to 100% digital broadcasting. The US Congress was sold on the digital broadcasting transition based on the providers' promises of a clearer picture, more programming options, and that it will free up airwaves for use by emergency responders. We'll have to wait and see how all that plays out.
In the meantime, consumers have a variety of options:
1. Keep your existing analog TV and purchase a TV converter box. A converter box plugs into your TV and will keep it working after Feb. 17, 2009
2. Connect to cable, satellite or other pay service. A TV connected to cable, satellite or other pay TV service will not require a TV converter box.
3. Purchase a television with a digital tuner.
Congress created the TV Converter Box Coupon Program for households wishing to keep using their analog TV sets after February 17, 2009. The Program allows U.S. households to obtain up to two coupons, each worth $40, that can be applied toward the cost of eligible converter boxes.
If you aren't sure if your TV has a digital tuner, check the owner's manual, the manufacturer's website, or check if your set has an input connection labeled “digital input” or “ATSC” (for Advanced Television Systems Committee, which is the DTV format).
The best source of information about the transition is probably the website cited above www.dtv2009.gov