Originally Published: June 25, 2008 10:25 p.m.
The transition to digital television is coming - are you prepared?
On Feb. 17, 2009, Arizona over-the-air television stations will make the federally mandated switch from analog to digital broadcasting.
It will be the biggest revolution in broadcast TV since the advent of color television in the 1950s. It will affect more than 20 million households and 70 million television sets nationwide, with 369,580 of those analog-only households right here in Arizona.
That is why the Arizona Broadcasters Association along with all local broadcast stations, has chosen to spearhead the consumer education campaign.
Imagine waking up on Feb. 18, 2009, grabbing your cup of morning java, turning on the TV and seeing ... absolutely nothing. Not a pretty picture for those accustomed to enjoying their regular local channels.
For those who receive free, over-the-air (OTA) broadcasting signals and use a set-top or roof-top antenna to receive those signals, you run the risk of losing your signal if you do not make the transition to digital.
Three easy options are available so viewers like you can make the transition by Feb. 17, 2009, and avoid losing your local broadcast signal, to wit:
1. Buy a DTV converter box at your local electronic retailer. The federal government is issuing two $40 coupons per household towards buying the converter boxes. A converter box technically enables an analog television set to continue to display a television picture after analog transmission ends. Details about the coupon program are available on the National Association of Broadcaster's official DTV website, www.dtvanswers.com. The U.S. Department of Commerce's NTIA manages the coupon program. If you do not have Internet connection you can call toll free - 1-888-DTV-2009. As of June 6, Arizonans had ordered 287,317 coupons for converter boxes.
2. Buy a TV set with a digital tuner and still enjoy over-the-air viewing with full digital quality.
3. Subscribe to cable, satellite or other pay TV service to continue using your analog TV set. To see if all desired local broadcast stations are carried by that service check with your local service provider for details.
With the digital television transition just eight months away, local broadcasters and the Arizona Broadcasters Association in conjunction with the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), are leading the charge to ensure Americans have all the tools and information necessary to successfully make the transition.
Arizona consumers have multiple opportunities to learn about the transition. The broadcasters' grassroots campaign will use every means to inform every Arizonan about the transition: from road shows and informational representatives speaking at community events to a speakers' bureau where broadcasters and community leaders will speak about the transition at local and state-wide events to PSA's and much more.
Though the federal government mandated the transition in 2005, we've been preparing for the switch to digital for more than a decade. Many stations already are broadcasting in both analog and digital and are preparing to switch off their analog signals Feb. 17, 2009. Some viewers already may be reaping the benefits of these local and national dual broadcasts.
The best part is: you have help. We, along with your local television broadcasters, will be with you every step of the way to make sure you have all the information to make the transition.
Don't get left behind. Make the switch to digital now and save your television signal before Feb. 17! Call the Arizona Broadcasters Association at 602-252-4833, your local TV stations or go to www.azbroadcasters.org, www.dtvanswers.com or for the coupon program www.DTV2009.gov or 1-888-DTV-2009.
Art Brooks is president and chief executive officer of the Arizona Broadcasters Association.