YOU Magazine - February 2009 - It's a Whole New DIGITAL World
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Lyn Bankowski     Lyn Bankowski
AVP/SR. Mortgage Loan Originator
Alaska USA Mortgage Company
Phone: 360-679-5633 / 360-969-5550
Fax: 360-279-1198
License: NMLS#304060 / CL-157293
Alaska USA Mortgage Company
February 2009

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It's a Whole New DIGITAL World

It's a Whole New DIGITAL World

In the early 1980s, a new start-up cable station had millions of people shouting, "I want my MTV!" Now, nearly thirty years later, many of those same people find themselves saying: "I want my DTV...converter?"

The nationwide switch to digital television (or DTV) has been in the works for 10 years. But with the final deadline just around the corner, many people are confused about what they need to do, if anything. In fact, recent studies suggest that nearly 7% of US households aren't ready for the transition. The information below can help clear up some of the confusion and help you decide if you're ready.

What is DTV?

The "DTV switch" refers to the upcoming switch from using analog signals to broadcast stations like NBC, CBS, ABC, and PBS. When the switch occurs, over-the-air analog broadcasts will be discontinued and replaced by digital signals. The transition to digital signals will help free up space in the cluttered airwaves for additional wireless services, including emergency response services. As an added benefit, the digital signal will deliver a clearer picture as well as more programming options.

What's the Problem?

The problem is that older televisions were not designed to receive and interpret digital signals. So, when the switch occurs, those televisions will go blank – that is, unless you have a way to convert the signal.

When will it Happen?

The original date of the switch was scheduled for midnight on February 17, 2009. However, as of the writing of this article, out of growing concern that too many people won't be ready for the transition, both the US Senate and House voted to postpone the transition by four months to June 12th. The bill must now be approved by President Obama, which is likely to happen. Once the transition does take place, analog will go the way of the dinosaurs and digital signals will flicker through televisions across the US.

Who will be Impacted?

A recent study suggests that 1 out of every 5 American households still relies on an analog signal for their television...and those are precisely the people who will be impacted the most.

To be clear: If you have an older analog TV and you use an over-the-air antenna, you will be affected.

However, if you have a TV with a digital tuner or if you receive your TV signals via cable or satellite, you're good to go. In other words, if you have one of the following you should be all set:

  • Cable or satellite service – If you receive your television channels through cable or satellite, you're already taken care of. You may want to check with your local cable provider to make sure you don't need extra equipment or a converter box for televisions that plug directly into the cable socket, rather than going through a cable box. Some news stories have reported that those customers need to pay additional fees. So your best bet is to call your local cable provider today and ask.
  • A TV with a digital tuner – If you own a newer TV with a built-in digital tuner, you're also ready. To find out if your TV has a digital tuner, check your owner's manual or look for a label on your television that includes the words "digital tuner" or "digital receiver" as well as "DTV" or "ATSC." Also, if you have a high-definition television (HDTV), you're good to go.  If your TV already has one of these labels on it, you should be all set. If it doesn't – and you're considering purchasing a new TV – make sure your next TV does.
  • A converter box – if you have an older analog television, the switch still won't impact you...IF you have a digital-to-analog converter box. Originally, a program was set up to provide Federal funds to help families purchase a converter box if they need one. However, the news headlines as of late have spread the word about the lack of Federal funding available. That doesn't mean that you can't get a converter, though. It just means you won't likely receive any help from the government to purchase one. So if you have an older analog television, don't panic. Just make a trip to your local electronics or department store and ask the clerk where you can find their digital converters.

To learn more about DTV and the options available to you, visit the government-sponsored DTV website at: or the FCC's DTV site at You'll find frequently asked questions, information about the transition, and other helpful articles.

License AK# 157293 Washington Consumer Loan Company license# CL-157293 California Residential Mortgage Lending Act, License# 4131067

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