Wednesday, February 21 , 2018, 11:13 pm | Fair 40º


Ready Or Not, the Transition to Digital TV Is Coming

To ensure your service continues, take these simple steps. In the meantime, join me in an online town hall Thursday.

In less than a year, our country will undergo a significant technological transition. On Feb. 17, television broadcasters will begin airing digital signals exclusively — and analog television sets that are not connected to cable, satellite or a digital signal converter box will stop working.


The transition to digital television will bring about several important changes, and not just more TV viewing options. Some channels currently used by analog TV stations will be freed up for advanced wireless service, like next-generation wireless phones. Even more important, other channels have been set aside for superior public safety communication services. Expanding the channels available to first responders in the event of an emergency implements a key outstanding recommendation of the 9-11 Commission.

In order to enjoy all of the benefits of digital television and to avoid losing TV service, consumers who receive over-the-air TV reception — relying on rooftop antennas or “rabbit ears” — must acquire a new digital-to-analog converter box to ensure their televisions will display the new digital signals. TV sets connected to cable or satellite service do not require a new converter box.

The boxes will be available at local electronics stores. To help defray the cost, Congress created a program to help consumers purchasing the converter boxes. Every household is eligible for two $40 coupons, each of which can be used toward the purchase of a converter. The program is run by the National Telecommunications & Information Administration. Click here for information from my office on the digital transition and how to get coupons. For more information on the overall program, click here or call 888.388.2009.

The size and scope of this transition to digital from analog is remarkable. However, the Government Accountability Office has estimated that more than 20 million households could find that one or more TV sets don’t pick up digital signals without the converter box, and will see only “electronic snow” after Feb. 17t. Even worse, many of these families still do not know they need to take action to avoid losing their television service. While the federal government has started a public education campaign, my colleagues and I have been urging the Bush administration and the Federal Communications Commission to do more to ensure that consumers know what’s coming and what they need to do to keep their TVs working.

Given the significance and the questions surrounding the upcoming transition to digital televison, I would like to invite the public to join me for an online town hall meeting at 2:30 p.m. Thursday. Click here to submit a question to me ahead of time.

Every one of us has an important role to play in this fast-approaching switch. I will continue working to educate the public about the steps consumers should take to be fully prepared for the digital television transition. Feb. 17 will be a notable day. Together, we can ensure it marks an important and successful milestone in broadcasting history.

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, represents the 23rd Congressional District.

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