Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Jerry Costello on Digital Switch

On February 17, 2009, over the air television broadcasts will be transmitted only in digital formats. Analog-only televisions (those that use an antenna) will not work on or after that date. Owners of analog-only televisions must do one of three things to ensure that their sets work:

  • Buy a TV with a digital tuner.
  • Connect to cable, satellite or other pay service.
  • Purchase a converter box.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is running a converter box program. The NTIA will provide two $40 coupons to help requesting households purchase converter boxes. Applicants must have a U.S. Post Office address and all coupons expire three months after issuance. You can request coupons in one of four ways:
  • Call 1.888.DTV.2009 (1.888.388.2009); deaf or hard of hearing callers may dial 1-877-530-2634 (English/TTY) or 1-866-495-1161 (Spanish/TTY). TTY Service is available from 9 AM - 9 PM Eastern Time Monday through Friday.
  • Complete or download an application at
  • Mail an application to P.O. Box 2000; Portland, OR 97208-2000
  • Fax an application to 1.877.DTV.4ME2 (1.877.388.4632)
As of January 4, 2009, those requesting coupons are being put on a waiting list due to high demand. Congress is working to enact additional funding to make sure all of these requests are met. Please go to the following link for the latest update from the NTIA:
Why is the transition to digital television necessary? Primarily to reclaim portions of the analog spectrum (broadcast channels 52-69, also known as the 700MHZ band) currently occupied by television broadcasters. Digital television uses radio frequency spectrum more efficiently than analog, making space available for other uses, such as emergency communications.
For more information on this issue, visit or call 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322). For information on the converter box program, visit or call 1.888.DTV.2009.

You are invited to sign up for future electronic newsletters. Please feel free to forward this message to friends and neighbors you think might be interested in this issue.


Jerry F. Costello
12th District of Illinois

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