DTV just 2 weeks away

May 30, 2009 6:54:48 AM PDT
Mark your calendar- the switch to digital television is quickly approaching.On June 12- two weeks from now- the country will drop its analog broadcasts, going completely digital. Viewers with cable or satellite TV will not be affected. However, a recent survey found that an estimated 76,000 homes in the Chicagoland area are not ready for the switch. All they have to do is: apply, buy and try.

Apply - for the government coupons to help off-set the cost of a digital converter box. The coupons take about 10 days to get, so to get it before the June 12 deadline, order by June 1.

Buy - a digital converter box and hook it up.

Then, try ... Turn the converter box on, scan the channels and make sure you're getting all the TV channels.

"Right now, pay attention and do something today. If you don't have a coupon, get a coupon. If you got a coupon, but didn't get a box - get a box. If you have a box and it's not hooked up - hook it up - and try it," said Michael Copps, acting FCC chairman.

If you have an analog TV with an antenna and you don't take these steps - by June 12th - your TV picture will go away.

An explainer: Until a few years ago, TV stations only transmitted analog signals using radio waves. Currently, stations - including ABC 7 - also transmit a digital signal - a series of zeros and ones. Two weeks from now the federal government is requiring the analog signals be turned off, leaving only the digital signals.

If you have an older analog TV set, it will only work if it's hooked up to a digital converter box. The boxes can be purchased at major retailers or online.

You need to connect your analog TV to the converter box, then connect the box to your existing antenna cable. Once connected - and turned on - follow the on-screen menu to scan for TV channels.

Your antenna must be a good quality vhf-uhf antenna. If you've had it for 30 years, it might need to be replaced. "You might need a better antenna than you have. Go in on the assumption: play with the antenna you've got. It should work, as long as it's a vhf/uhf loop. If not, you may need one with more gizmos on it, or sometimes an outdoor antenna," said Copps.

Re-scan on June 12

Once everything's hooked up and working, you're ready for now. But there's one more important step that you're going to have to remember to do after noon on Friday, June 12th after TV stations will be changing and moving their signals on that date You'll need to have your converter box re-scan all the TV channels again at that time.

If you don't - you won't get ABC7.

"Very important. You could've done everything right and wake up on June 13th, turn on the set and - nothing's there. The only problem might have been that you forgot to hit the scan button," said Copps.

So make sure your converter box has scanned for channels now. And then re-scan the TV channels after the digital transition on June 12th. Also, if you have a newer digital TV that you're using with an antenna, you're going to have to re-scan the channels on that TV too after noon on June 12th.

Remember, if you have cable or satellite-- you don't have to do a thing.


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