Big digital television switch fast approaching | SummitDaily.com

Big digital television switch fast approaching

ASHLEY DICKSON
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado

Although there is still some nationwide confusion regarding the offical switchover date for digital television, Summit County will be 100 percent digital come Feb. 17.

“Most people will carry on and not even know it happened,” said Suzanne Green, the president of Summit Public Radio and Television. “It’s important to explain that 95 percent of people will be fine, and only a select few might have to invest in a new box to translate the signal.”

In 2005, Congress passed a law requiring all television broadcasting stations to transmit digital signals by Feb. 17, but that deadline may be extended to June 12 in some states, as legislators iron out conversion logistics.

“Residents with older analog television sets should not experience a problem with the new digital switch if they are connected to cable or satellite service, and only those with antennas will need to pursuer other options when preparing for the change,” said Gary Peterson, director of engineering for Summit Public Radio and Television.

Residents with rooftop antennas may have to purchase a digital-to-analog converter box to continue watching basic programming. To help with the transition, the government has established the Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program.

Every U.S. household is eligible to receive up to two $40 coupons toward the purchase of analog-to-digital converter boxes, and manufacturers estimate the converter boxes will range from $40 to $70.

“These new converter boxes are getting a lot of attention because it’s a big money-making opportunity,” Peterson said.

In addition to providing a better sound and picture quality, the switch from analog to digital will free up parts of the valuable broadcast spectrum for public-safety communication like police, fire departments and rescue authorities.

“With the creation of so many different broadcast transmitters, the spectrum has become sort of clogged,” said Peterson.

Digital broadcasts also will allow networks to offer “high definition” digital programming or multiple “standard definition” digital programs simultaneously.

For example, while a station broadcasting in analog on channel 7 is only able to offer viewers one program, a station broadcasting in digital on channel 7 will offer viewers one digital program on 7-1, a second digital program on channel 7-2, and so on.

Although it is unclear how many residents still use older analog television sets, Green is urging any residents that use antenna televisions to contact Summit Public Radio and Television at tv@summitpublicradio.org.

Ashley Dickson can be reached at (970) 668-4629, or at adickson@summitdaily.com.


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