DTV test on Wednesday

February 4, 2009 1:29:40 PM PST
All week, we've been telling you about the transition to digital TV. Wednesday morning, many viewers in Chicago learned their TV sets are not ready for DTV. If you're one of those viewers, and if you don't take the necessary steps now, you could risk losing your favorite programs June 12.

ABC 7 is conducting a test Wednesday morning and evening that will tell you if your TV is not ready for digital broadcasting. Many viewers found out after Wednesday morning's test that they have some work to do in order to keep their TVs from going to snow in June.

Rachel Jean-Battiste began her day like any other, by making a cup of coffee and catching up on the latest news. Rachel is one of millions of TV viewers in the US who still watch TV using an older analog TV set hooked up to a rabbit-ears antenna.

"I am the only person that I know that does not have cable," said Jean-Battiste.

And since her TV is not connected to cable or satellite, Rachel's television picture may turn to snow in June.

Here's what's happening: until a few years ago, television stations only transmitted analog signals via radio waves. Right now, stations, including Channel 7, also transmit a digital signal, which is a series of zeros and ones. June 12, the analog signal will go away, leaving only the digital signal.

Wednesday morning, ABC 7 took part in a test using only our analog signal, revealing to Jean-Battiste and thousands of others who are still getting their signal over the air that they are not prepared for the transition to digital TV.

"If you actually saw the announcement, that meant that you are not ready that you need to order the converter box and hook it up to your TV in order to get channels in 2009," Jean-Battiste said.

Converter are sold at many major retailers and online. They cost $40, or more, depending on the brand and features.

The government is helping off-set the cost a bit by offering two $40 coupons per household.

If you buy a converter box, make sure that you're connecting it to a good quality VHF-UHF antenna.

If you see our newscast go away during the test, then it's a clear indication that the TV you are watching is not ready to see our digital signal. You'll know that you're going to need to get a converter box for those sets.