May 2009

Spotlight On…   The Digital TV Transition

Beginning June 12, 2009, all U.S. television stations will stop broadcasting analog signals and will switch to digital. What does this mean for you? To help prepare you for the transition, we’ve pulled together some useful resources.

Getting Started

Here are a few good starting points for getting a handle on the “big picture.”

  • DTV Answers. This website from the National Association of Broadcasters covers all the bases: What is DTV? Why are we switching to a different system? Who’s affected? It also covers to how to upgrade your TV, converter box details, and how to choose an antenna. The site is available in many different languages.
  • The Digital TV Transition: What You Need to Know. The Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) website includes a library of related publications, a glossary, audio and videocasts about the transition, and information about the rules, regulations and developments relating to DTV. Includes a guide for getting a converter box coupon, buying a converter box, and installing a converter box.
  • DTV: Ask Us. In this video, experts from local public television station CET answer questions from viewers about preparing for the transition.
  • Digital TV Transition. Consumer Reports offers information about the different methods for upgrading to digital reception, ratings of digital converter boxes, tips for buying a new HDTV, brief videos about your DTV options, and an electronics forum.
  • Television is Going Digital. Read this “Consumer Alert” from the Federal Trade Commission. It provides advice on buying a converter box, subscribing to a cable/satellite/pay TV service, and buying a new television.


To defray costs associated with the transition, 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. The coupons may only be used for eligible converter boxes sold at participating retailers, and the coupons must be used at the time of purchase. Important note: The Converter Box Coupon Program has reached its funding ceiling. Coupon requests from eligible households will be filled as expired coupons become available. If you would like to apply for a coupon and are eligible, you will be put on a waiting list and will receive coupons on a first-come-first-served basis. Coupons expire 90 days after the date they are mailed.

Buying a Converter Box

A digital converter box receives digital signals and converts them for analog viewing. You’ll need to purchase a box if you don’t have a digital TV and your TV uses an antenna (including “rabbit ears”) to receive signals.

  • Coupon Eligible Converter Boxes. Not all digital-to-analog converter boxes are coupon eligible. You can find a master list of coupon eligible boxes on the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) website.
  • Converter Box Retailers. The NTIA also maintains a list of national, online, and telephone retailers. Locate a digital converter retailer near you.
  • DTV Converter Box Guide. The editors of Consumer Reports offer a brief overview of the market. They’ve also published Ratings of converter boxes.
  • What You Need to Know About DTV. Once you’ve purchased your digital-to-analog converter box, you’ll need to set it up. The FCC published a number of detailed step-by-step guides.

More Info

  • The experts at CET, our local public television station, are available to answer questions via their DTV hotline (513-345-6512) or email.
  • DTV Answers: Frequently Asked Questions. The National Association of Broadcasters website has an exhaustive list of FAQs about coupons, converter boxes, antenna, etc.
  • Converter Box Coupon Program. FAQs from the NTIA about consumer options, converter boxes, and the coupon program.
  • Contact the NTIA. Contact them by phone, email, or U.S. mail with your questions about the converter box coupon program.

Still have questions? Call (513-369-6900) or email the Information and Reference Department and a librarian will be happy to assist you!