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Office for the Aging urges TV viewers to gear up for the conversion

On June 12, all full-power television stations will broadcast in digital only. It is important that consumers be ready, and act now.

In 1996, Congress authorized the distribution of an additional broadcast channel to each broadcast TV station so that they could start a digital broadcast channel while simultaneously continuing their analog broadcast channel. The switch from analog to digital broadcast television is referred to as the digital TV (DTV) transition. Broadcast stations in all U.S. markets are currently broadcasting in both analog and digital.

"Now is the time for us all to get up to speed on DTV: what is it; what does it mean to me; what do I need to do?" said Theresa Davis, OFA executive director. "We at Office for the Aging encourage everyone to educate themselves on this important issue."

For viewers who have one or more televisions that receive free over-the-air programming (with a roof-top antenna or "rabbit ears" on the TV), the type of TV you own is very important. A digital television (a TV with an internal digital tuner) will allow you to continue to watch free over-the-air programming after June 12.

However, if you have an analog television, you will need a digital-to-analog converter box to continue to watch broadcast television on that set. This converter box will also enable you to see any additional multicast programming that your local stations are offering.

To help consumers with the DTV transition, the government established the Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program. Every U.S. household is eligible to receive up to two coupons, worth $40 each, toward the purchase of eligible digital-to-analog converter boxes. Digital-to-analog converter boxes sell from $40 to $70 each.

Cable and satellite TV subscribers with analog TVs hooked up to their cable or satellite service should not be affected on June 12.

There are many sources of information about the digital transition but one is the government's site. It contains information on what DTV is, questions consumers should ask when purchasing new television sets, what programs are available in DTV and much more.

For more information about the DTV transition, go to dtv.gov or call the FCC by e-mailing dtvinfo@fcc.gov; calling (888) CALL-FCC (888) 225-5322) or by TTY at (888) TELL-FCC (888) 835-5322).

Seniors can call Madison County Office for the Aging for help at 697-5700. Ask to speak to Connie Brown.

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