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Edward "Bud" Lavallee
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Posted at 12:31 AM on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 by 4501
Television enters the digital age for good on Feb. 17, 2009. That’s when Congress has decreed that all television broadcast stations end analog transmissions and broadcast only in digital format.
Most current television transmissions are received through analog television sets. Analog technology has been in use for the past 50 years to transmit conventional TV signals, which vary continuously, creating fluctuations in color and brightness.
Digital TV (DTV) is an advanced broadcasting technology that will transform the television viewing experience. DTV enables broadcasters to offer television with better picture and sound quality. It can also offer multiple programming choices, called multicasting, and interactive capabilities.
The law requiring this change applies only to stations broadcasting over public airwaves. Those receiving transmissions via satellite or cable will have to contact their specific service providers to determine if their current communications box will receive a digital broadcast. If not, they may be required to upgrade to digital to receive local programming.
Those who have old analog sets and don’t subscribe to cable or satellite will have to purchase a digital-to-analog converter box to receive programming. That has officials like VA Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs Lisette Mondello concerned.
“When I think of those most disadvantaged by this change, I think of the older veterans who rely on VA for health care and income support,” she told an industry conference sponsored by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) this fall. “That’s why VA is going to publicize this change date prominently throughout our system over the coming year and make sure older and lower income veterans know some help is available.”
That help comes in the form of a coupon issued by NTIA worth a $40 credit toward purchase of a digital-to-analog converter box (two coupons per household). The coupon program began Jan. 1, 2008, and ends March 31, 2009.
For more information on the digital-to-analog conversion and to apply for coupons, visit the NTIA Web site at www.ntia.doc.gov, the Federal Communications Commission site at www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/digitaltv.html, or the commission’s DTV site at www.dtv.gov.