Sunday, February 3, 2008

Brace for It: Switch to Digital Broadcasting Misunderstood by Most

"Much of what consumers are learning about the looming shift to digital broadcasting is just plain wrong and could end up costing them money."

More than that, they're going to be looking to you, their nearest tech geek, to help them figure it out. Probably after they've already wasted money buying some equipment they won't need. Think not? Consider this:

"Among those consumers who are aware of the transition [64 percent according to a Consumers Union survey], 58 percent believe all televisions will need a converter box to function. Forty-eight percent believe that only digital televisions will work after 2009, and 24 percent believe they will need to throw away all of their analog television sets."

See how you've got your work cut out for you? So, in anticipation of the coming onslaught of questions and requests for help before the February 18, 2009, end of analog broadcasts, here are your talking points, neatly condensed:

  • If your television is hooked up to a cable or satellite service, you will NOT be affected; you will NOT need a separate converter box (that's almost everybody; see how easy this will be).
  • If you own an older television that gets its signal via antenna (aka rabbit ears), you will need a converter box (that's about 13.5 million television households, or about 12 percent, according to Nielson).
  • If you want to get a converter box, each household is eligible for two $40 coupons to help offset the cost, regardless of whether you have a pay-television service or not. To request a coupon, you can apply online at or call the 24-hour hotline, 1-888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009).
There you go.



  1. The sky is falling! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

    Oh. No it's not?

    Thanks for throwing some water on the hysteria and explaining this.

  2. I'm beyond pissed that we are wasting tax dollars on analog to digital converter vouchers. No one helped me buy my flatscreen, why should I help them?

    The kids can't get a decent education, but we can spend millions helping people watch tv. 100% unacceptable.

  3. @ag, I think you misunderstand the role of government. Good government survives by keeping the middle class placated. We can't have 12% of households in this country going without television, now can we?