FCC commissioner explains digital switch

September 11, 2008 7:26:02 PM PDT
On February 17, 2009 digital TV will replace most of Analog TV. That is a huge change and underlining that a commissioner from the Federal Communications Commission was in San Francisco on Thursday talking up the transition.

We're going to talk about the upside and the downside of the transition. But first let's talk about who will be most affected.

If you receive your TV signal through satellite or cable, you are covered, there's nothing you need to do. However if your TV comes by way of rabbit ears, or through an outside antenna then you are the person who has to make the move.

Working hard to get out the word is the Federal Communications Commission.

On Thursday, FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein made the rounds of community meetings setting the record straight.

"Now many people think they have to buy a high definition set to be prepared for the DTV transition but that's not true, you don't have to buy one of those expensive high definition sets," said Adelstein

Even on old TVs you can see a huge difference between a digital and an analog signal. If you can't tell the difference you're watching on analog.

And there are other benefits for those making the transition. With an analog picture there is often ghosting, with digital no ghosting, you either get the video or you don't.

And if you get the video you'll get a lot more of it.

"They're going to have more options on the channel, free over the air. Where there is one channel now, on digital you can fit four channels, so you can get weather, local news and sports," said Adelstein.

So channel 7 will have several outlets and so will the other stations -- more choice for consumers.

At the meeting in Chinatown, some were ready to make the transition.

"So if you guys can teach them to install it, then they will be happy to try, and if she can't find a relative to set it up, then she is not afraid to set it up herself," said a translator at the meeting.

"So they are all here just to learn how?" asked ABC7's Michael Finney.

"Yes," said the translator.

Since they are willing to give it a go, you should be too, and the best time to make the transition? Now. Why? Converter boxes and help is available. Call channel 7 and we'll help you set up your box. The FCC also has toll free lines and there's lots of information on the Internet.

But if you wait, boxes could become scarce and help overwhelmed with inquiries.

The downside to all this? Well you do have to buy a box, but the upside is two free coupons the federal government will send to any household. They are good for $40 towards a converter box, which means consumers can pay as little at $10 to make the transition.

Another potential down side comes with the signal. Now we know exactly where the analog signal goes, you probably know too -- at least in your house.

When we transition to digital, it will be a learning experience for all of us, and some consumers may have to move their antennas.

To get all the stations, you will need an antenna that gets both UVH and VHF. When you get your box you'll have to scan through the channels and then when February 17th comes you will have to scan through again. Some of the channels will be changing.

Related links:

  • Digital converter box coupon program
  • Digital TV transition

    If you have any questions you can call ABC7 News at (415) 954-7777.


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