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Television has become an entity to the lives of most Americans. Not simply for entertainment, TV is used for business, sports and provides an important news source.

It is true that television has proven to be a dependable communication source, and recent legislation has taken measures to better present our media. Last February a bill was passed through Congress, which will make television technology of the past obsolete.

Digital Television Transition will eliminate the use of all analog televisions, to incorporate digital broadcasting, beginning February 17, 2009. Digital Television (DTV) technology, more flexible and efficient than analog, will become the new source for television broadcasting. This impending switch to DTV will provide a sharp, high definition picture quality, and will enable multicasting, which provides several program streams simultaneously.

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Additionally, DTV offers a better signal reception and many new features that will come free for those who are affected in the conversion. Probably one of the most valuable things DTV will do is open valuable broadcasting frequency, as analog television will be removed from the airways. This newly freed space will greatly advance other important services to our communities. Police, fire and other emergency rescue services, in consequence, will receive additional airspace for their emergency broadcasts and frequency communication, enabling more efficient and direct communication to assist those in need sooner. It will also grant additional access to wireless equipment.

Although this improvement will provide many benefits, it may cause trouble to those who own analog televisions. Most people have television sets connected to cable, satellite, or other pay television service, or own televisions with a digital tuner. These televisions will fair well in the exchange.

bugs-antenna.jpg However, if a television has “rabbit ears” or requires another type of antenna, and has been purchased more than five years ago, it may need a digital converter. A digital-to-analog converter can plug into any analog television, and allow it to continue functioning with the new technology. Although the new legislation will not be enforced until 2009 to provide people adequate time to update their televisions, a government program, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, has been established to assist those who are financially unable to afford the converter. Beginning January 1, 2008, this program will be supplying $40-off coupons to applicants for the basic converters. Up to two converters may be requested per household. Requests for coupons will not be taken before January, and will expire after 90 days.

Coupons will not be valid for the purchase of the more advanced converters, which have additional features, such as a DVD player. Video game systems, DVD players, VCRs, camcorders and other devices that connect to a television will not be affected by the DTV transition. More information about DTV, including and FAQ, is provided at www.dtv.gov. Questions can be sent via e-mail to DTVinfo@fcc.gov.

And Remember: TV does not always equal quality family time…

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