If you are uncertain about the Congressionally-mandated switch from analog to digital TV, join the club. There is so much confusion rampant across the country that the FCC, in its wisdom, is funding a multi-million dollar “road trip” to travel the nation in big buses to help consumers muddle through the miasma and uncertainty surrounding this critical situation.
One such bus will be in Portland Monday at Pioneer Courthouse Square from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., so if you don’t have a job you should be able to stop by during these convenient hours and “get the scoop” on the “big change”. If you are unable to make it, here is what you need to know:
1. On February 17th, 2009, all full-power broadcast TV stations in the US will cease broadcasting on the analog airwaves. This change is primarily for the consumer as the picture will be clearer, the sound better, and there will be more channels available. It is also worth mentioning that the government will now be able to auction off the unused bandwidth for billions and billions of dollars.
2. You will need a TV set with a digital tuner to receive these over-the-air digital signals. No analog set will ever work again without a magic converter box. However, if you have cable or satellite TV you should have no problem whatsoever, as they have done the digital-to-analog conversion work for you.
3. What if you don’t have cable or satellite? You can get a magic converter box at your favorite consumer electronics store and even get two $40-off coupons (one per magic box) from the federal government to assist you with that purchase. Yes, your tax dollars are helping someone watch digital TV on an old, out-of-date, energy-hogging analog set with a crummy picture. Why the government would subsidize obsolete technology is beyond belief, but that is for another discussion.
4. Don’t forget that if you have any radios around that pick up the TV audio, those will not work, either, after the analog cut-off date.
5. It is really quite easy to connect your magic converter box should you decide to get one and keep that old set going for a few more years.
6. If you live near the northern border of the US, you could, with a large enough antenna, continue to receive analog TV signals, as Canada will not make its switch to full digital until August 31, 2011.
7. This switch is a good thing. Digital is either there or it is not. However, if you live in a fringe reception area you may have to do without a channel rather than with a channel that has poor reception. With digital, you either have the signal or you don’t.
8. This change is a big one. Be careful out there.