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Home Page > Digital Television

TV, "Are You Ready?"

DIGITAL TELEVISION TRANSITION

The nationwide transition from analog to digital television will take place on February 17, 2009. On that day, all full-power television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting in analog format and transmit only digital signals. Analog television sets purchased before March 2007 that receive signals over the air and are not connected to cable or satellite will need a digital-to-analog converter box, which will receive digital signals and "translate" them for analog televisions, to receive broadcast programming from full-power stations after the DTV transition.

Low power and translator stations are not required to transition to digital on February 17, 2009, and many will continue to broadcast analog signals. Consumers who are served by such stations should consider purchasing a converter box that includes the analog pass-through feature. The analog pass-through feature allows consumers to view low power and translator stations broadcasting in analog on an analog television set by “passing through” the analog signal when the box is turned off.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is spearheading a program through which consumers can obtain converter boxes.  Each household is eligible for two $40 coupons, each of which can be applied toward the cost of one converter box.

The NTIA and the U.S. Department of Commerce have collaborated to create a brochure to inform consumers entitled, "Preparing for the Digital Television Transition." 

Click here for all related News Releases, Letters, Statements and Hearings »

Who Will Be Affected By The Transition?

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates that the transition will affect up to 70 million households nationwide.  Any analog television set that relies on an antenna, or "rabbit ears," to receive programming will likely need a converter box to receive digital signals.

To ensure that your family’s televisions remain functional, please follow the instructions below for claiming coupons and purchasing converter boxes.

Do I Need a Converter Box?

Do any of the televisions in your household require rabbit ears or a rooftop antenna to receive signals?

If NO, then it is likely that you don’t need to do anything to prepare for the transition.

If YES, please follow the steps below to claim your converter box coupon(s).

How Do I Apply for a $40 Converter Box Coupon?

Every household is entitled to apply for two $40 converter box coupons, each of which may be applied toward the cost of one converter box. 

There are four ways to apply for these coupons: 

1) ONLINE:  Visit https://www.dtv2009.gov and follow the step-by-step instructions for applying online. 

2) BY PHONE:  Dial one of the numbers below and answer the questions as you are prompted.  

1-888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009)
TTY: 1-877-530-2634 (English)
1-866-495-1161 (Spanish)

3) BY MAIL:  Print out the form linked below, fill it out and send it to:
                       
P.O. Box 2000
Portland, OR  97208

Application for converter box coupon: https://www.dtv2009.gov/docs/Coupon_Program_App_en.pdf

4) BY FAX:  Print out the form linked above, fill it out and fax it to:

1-877-DTV-4ME2

Do I need Two TV Converter Box Coupons?

Before requesting your TV converter box coupons from the NTIA consider whether your household will need one coupon or two. If you order one coupon initially, you can request a second coupon later, as long as funds remain available in the TV Converter Box Coupon Program. If you initially request two coupons and both of them expire, you will not be able to request any additional coupons.

Already ordered your coupon but have not yet received it? 

Check on the status of your coupon here (you will need the reference number or your address): https://www.dtv2009.gov/CheckStatus.aspx

Where can I redeem the coupons?

Visit the Web page linked below. After entering your address you will be given a list of converter box retailers in your area. Visit one of the suggested retailers to redeem your coupon and purchase a converter box: https://www.dtv2009.gov/VendorSearch.aspx

What should I do if my TV converter box coupon is about to expire?

If your converter box coupon is about to expire and retailers in your area do not have converter boxes in stock, you should consider purchasing a converter box over the phone or online before your coupon expires.

  1. Go to a local retailer. It is a good idea to call the retailer before visiting the store to ensure that it has converter boxes in stock.
  2. Order a converter box over the phone. Many retailers are allowing customers to use a TV converter box coupon to purchase a converter box over the phone. The retailer will then ship the converter box once it is available. (Some retailers will charge a shipping fee.) A list of retailers selling converter boxes by phone and their phone numbers can be found here: https://www.dtv2009.gov/VendorSearch.aspx.
  3. Order a converter box online. A list of retailers selling converter boxes online and their websites can be found here: https://www.dtv2009.gov/VendorSearch.aspx.

Can you think of anyone who might need help ordering a coupon and purchasing a converter box?

Please make sure your friends, neighbors, parents and grandparents are aware of the upcoming transition and ask if they need help following the above steps.

After I purchase a converter box, is it easy to set up?

On February 6, 2008, a converter box demonstration was held on Capitol Hill for Members of Congress and their staff. To watch a demonstration on how to set up your converter box, click here »

I watch low power and translator stations. Will I still be able to view these stations after the transition?

Yes. Low power and translator stations are not required by law to transition to digital on February 17, 2009, and many will continue to broadcast analog signals only. You may continue viewing low power and translator stations by purchasing a converter box that includes the analog pass-through feature. More information is available at https://www.dtv2009.gov/lowpower/ or http://www.lptvanswers.com/.

How can I tell if a broadcast television station is a low power or translator station?

A full list of low power and translator stations that may be affected by the DTV transition is available at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/dtvcoupon/LPTVmap.html. In addition, a translator station has its channel number in the middle of its call letters (such as K37ZZ). A low power station will usually have a –CA or –LP at the end of its call sign, although sometimes the call letters are in the same format as a translator station.

For more information regarding the DTV transition, please visit the following Web sites:

DTV Transition 2009
DTV Transition 2009 - Low Power Stations Frequently Asked Questions
arrowFederal Communications Commission DTV
arrowNational Telecommunications and Information Administration
arrowNational Telecommunications and Information Administration - Digital Television and Public Safety
arrowNational Association of Broadcasters DTV Answers
arrowNational Association of Broadcasters DTV Answers - Low Power Television Stations
arrowNational Cable and Telecommunications Association

Click here for additional Committee Information on the DTV Legislative Process »