WLJT explains digital television

WLJT explains digital television
WLJT-TV/DT, Channel 11 wants to reassure viewers that they can still receive free, over-the-air television after stations switch to all digital broadcasting on February 17, 2009. WLJT, which has launched a comprehensive community education campaign, is providing viewers with the facts about digital television and the changes they may need to make to receive and watch television in the future. Congress set February 17, 2009 as the deadline for most TV broadcasters to switch to ALL digital signals. Most stations have already made the switch, and are transmitting both analog and digital television signals. Viewers with digital televisions are already enjoying digital television right now. WLJT General Manager, Dave Hinman said, “It’s true. WLJT and other television broadcasters – commercial and public – are moving from conventional TV broadcasting to new channels for digital broadcasting. Over the next year, people will probably hear a lot more about digital television. Some of what they hear may be confusing, perhaps scary, and possibly untrue. That’s why we want our viewers to know the facts.” According to the National Association of Broadcasters, the percentage of viewers who are aware of the change to all digital television broadcasting is increasing. However, according to a recent Consumer Reports survey, the vast majority of people who have heard about digital broadcasting have major misconceptions about how it will all work. Digital television is free to everyone. Viewers do not need to subscribe to a cable or satellite service. In fact, they don’t even need to buy a new TV. A small converter box hooked to the current TV set will ensure they continue to receive all of their favorite PBS programs and local WLJT specials. Hinman also stated, “If viewers receive WLJT over-the-air with an antenna or rabbit ears, the best thing they can do today is apply for up to two $40 discount coupons from the federal government to assist in the purchase of converter boxes. When they act now, they’ll avoid any last minute shortages or long waits for technical help as the deadline approaches. Plus most viewers will receive all digital channels the moment they plug in their new converter box.” Digital converter boxes are available at Wal-Mart Stores, Best Buy, RadioShack and many other retailers for between $40 and $70. After redeeming the $40 government discount coupons, the one time cost per converter box should be less than $30. Hinman said, “Some people see the change to digital TV as a chance to sell something – to force viewers to subscribe to cable or satellite services, or to purchase a new television set. People can accept or refuse any offer, but they will probably make better choices if they have the basic facts about what (if any) changes need to be made to TV sets in their home.” WLJT’s goal is to make sure its viewers have honest answers to their questions concerning the switch to all digital in 2009. “We want to separate fact from fiction,” said Hinman. “As a non-profit, public service organization it’s imperative that we do everything possible to make this change as smooth and easy as possible.” With digital television, the programs viewers come to expect from WLJT will still be available. And by using a digital converter box with their current TV and antenna or purchasing a reasonably priced new high-definition (HDTV) set, they’ll get even more of the programs they value. Hinman said, “If you can receive free, conventional over-the-air signals with an indoor or outdoor antenna, you may be able to use the same antenna to receive free digital TV. Beyond being free, using an antenna to receive over-the-air signals has additional benefits.” “First, because the signals are not retransmitted by cable or satellite, over-the-air reception provides the highest quality picture and sound possible. Even cable and satellite viewers may want to connect their indoor or outdoor antenna to their cable or satellite set-top-box.” “Second, viewers who can receive an over-the-air signal can watch all the new digital TV channels. Cable and satellite may not carry them all.” WLJT’s programming will remain free to everyone after the switch to all-digital. As part of America’s only network of community owned, governed and operated television stations and thanks to the ongoing financial support of its viewers, WLJT will continue providing all viewers a unique mix of entertaining and thought-provoking programs—all without commercial interruptions. For more information about digital television, the upcoming switch to all digital in 2009 and how viewers can apply for their $40 discount coupons, go to www.wljt.org. Q: I watch my television programs on an older TV with an antenna. Will the upcoming digital switch require me to buy a new set to keep watching? A: Definitely not – an inexpensive set-top converter box will enable your current set to display digital channels. The box will cost only $10-$30 when you use a discount coupon. No one will have to buy a new set unless they choose to. Q: I’m confused – what’s the difference between analog, digital and high-definition TV? A: Analog is the broadcast system we’ve all grown up watching. Digital is the much more efficient method we’re all switching to by February 2009. High definition (HD) is merely the “high end” of digital TV, so just like the “high end” of any other product, it’s an entirely optional switch for everyone. “Regular” (or standard definition) digital is itself already superior to analog. Q: How does the coupon program for digital converter boxes work? A: Digital-to-analog set-top boxes allow any working analog TV and antenna to switch to digital easily and cheaply. The $40 discount coupons – up to two per household – will bring the cost down to as little as $10 per TV. Coupons can be ordered now at www.dtv2009.gov or by calling 1-888-DTV-2009. They are being mailed now and boxes are available in stores. After connecting the box between your antenna and TV, you’ll get more digital channels – for free, as always. Q: I’m not sure if my TV is digital. How can I tell? A: It’s an ATSC tuner that makes a TV digital. If your TV lacks one, it’s analog. A set that’s more than several years old is unlikely to be digital. Check your owner’s manual, the TV itself, the store where you bought it, or the manufacturer’s Website for evidence that your set includes an ATSC tuner. If your set is in fact analog and you use an antenna to watch, a converter box will allow your TV to continue working after Feb 17, 2009. You’ll also get additional digital channels. A $40 discount coupon will bring your cost down to as little as $10. Apply for coupons online at dtv2009.gov, or by calling 1-888-388-2009. Q: Will my old TV antenna still work with a new digital converter box? A: If you currently get a good signal with your existing antenna and analog TV, you will probably get one as good or better when you connect a digital converter box. However, in order to be sure you get all local channels, you need to have a combination VHF (channels 2-13) and UHF (14 and up) antenna. If you already get channels in both these ranges well, then your antenna is probably just fine. You do not need a special HD or digital antenna, just a good VHF/UHF one. For useful information about antennas and reception, visit antennaweb.org. You’ll get a free customized report on the distance and direction of your local transmitters, as well as advice on the best placement and style of antenna for your location. Q: I have a set-top box from my cable company. Do I also need to get one of the new digital converter boxes? A: If you have paid cable service, you’re already digitally prepared. The cable service may or may not involve a set-top box, but either way it will continue to provide a signal that an analog TV can properly display. So, you don’t need a converter box unless you drop your paid service, or have other analog TV sets that are not connected to cable. Converter boxes and cable boxes are not the same thing, though: converter boxes convert broadcast digital signals to analog using an ATSC tuner; cable boxes use QAM tuners to decode cable signals. Q: There are 45 digital-to-analog converter boxes that I can buy with a coupon. How do I decide which one is right for me? A: To be coupon-eligible, boxes need to meet government specifications. They’ll all have closed captioning, a remote control, picture formatting, parental controls, RF and audio/visual outputs, signal strength indicators and more. The most important optional feature is “analog pass-through,” which lets you watch both analog and digital TV signals. You should choose other options that best match the ways you use your TV. The coupon program was designed to cover just basic boxes, though, so the range of optional features is limited.

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