Digital TV Conversion
Per federal law, all "full-power" TV
stations have ceased broadcasting in analog and now
broadcast only in digital. Virtually all TV stations
If you have lost your signals, you'll need to take
appropriate action for your
TV service to resume.
OPTIONS TO KEEP RECEIVING
Consumers who have lost TV signals have three options:
- Keep your existing TV and purchase a TV converter
box and possibly a new antenna;
- Purchase a television with a digital
- Connect your TV set to a cable,
satellite or other pay service.
Note that you will have to take separate action for
every TV set that has lost its TV signals.
Also note that TV sets that lose reception should
still work with gaming consoles, VCRs, DVD players,
and similar products without having to take any of
the three actions above.
PURCHASING A TV
Most converter boxes range from $40 to $80, although
some can run higher than $100.
When installing the converter box, the directions
will instruct you to "scan" the channels
to make sure the box picks up everything available.
Since digital stations are becoming available regularly,
and existing digital stations may be changing to different
channel locations or adding subchannels over time,
you should rescan on a periodic basis to get all of
the digital programming available.
Converter-Box Coupon Program
To defray the cost of the boxes, Congress created the TV
Converter Box Coupon Program for households wishing to keep using their analog
TV sets after stations stop broadcasting in analog. The Program allows viewers
to obtain coupons worth $40 each that can be applied toward the cost of eligible
converter boxes. Unfortunately, the Program is no longer accepting applications
for coupons. However, viewers may use unexpired coupons they already have or
will receive from the federal government based on coupon applications they’ve
You can only use one coupon per converter box.
If you need a coupon, you should ask friends, family
members or neighbors if they have unexpired coupons
that they don't need. Note that coupons can only be
given for free; they cannot be bought and sold.
Please note that coupons only reduce the cost of a
converter box. If you like, you can purchase the converter
box at full price (if you don't have a coupon).
You should always protect yourself about coupons and setting up converter boxes by keeping these rules in mind:
- Don't give your Social Security number or other sensitive financial information when you redeem your coupon.
- If you return a converter box you bought using a coupon, you can't get the value of the coupon back. Before you buy a converter box, ask the retailer about the box's features, any manufacturer's warranty, and the store's return policy.
- Before you leave the store with your new converter box, check to make sure installation instructions are included. If you have questions, ask the retailer to explain the installation - or check to see whether the manufacturer offers a toll-free help line. You can find general installation instructions at www.dtv.gov/publications.html.
- Installing a converter box is easy, but if you decide to hire someone to install it, get the price in writing before you agree to the job, and put any personal information you may keep in your home in a safe place.
- Ignore any offer for a "free" converter box, especially if it requires you to pay for shipping or a warranty. The companies that are making these offers are not certified by the government, and their converter boxes are not eligible for the coupon program.
PURCHASING A NEW ANTENNA
Do I need a new antenna to get free TV signals?
Rabbit ears by themselves or a VHF-only antenna by
itself only pick up VHF stations (channels 2-13). You
will need a converter box even to view those channels
with rabbit ears of a VHF antenna.
At this point, there are only three VHF stations -
WABC (channel 7), WPIX (channel 11) and WNET (channel
13). Please note that these stations may move
to the UHF range (channels 14-51) at any time. If they
do move, they will not be viewable merely with rabbit
ears or a VHF-only antenna.
If you want free TV from UHF stations, you have to
have a "loop" antenna with the rabbit ears
or a "combination VHF/UHF" antenna (and a
TV sets hooked up to a cable, satellite or other pay
service will not need an antenna.
How can I get the best signal?
If you're having trouble receiving stations after hooking
up a converter box with an indoor antenna, you should
try moving the antenna around and changing its angle.
If that doesn't work, you may need to get a different
indoor antenna design or consider changing to an
outdoor antenna. In general, mounting an antenna
higher gets better reception.
Generally, an outdoor antenna will get better reception
than an indoor antenna. While older combination antennas
will get all over-the-air channels, newer designs may
work better in some situations. The best antenna type
for you depends on how far you are from the transmitting
station, whether you live in a house or an apartment,
and whether there are hills, tall buildings or large
trees near your home. Your can find suggestions for
appropriate outdoor antennas by entering their street
address at www.antennaweb.org.
Using geographical maps and signal strengths, the site's
database predicts which stations are available at a
particular location, the type of antenna needed and
which direction to which the antenna needs to be pointed.
You can also find out which stations you'll receive
and their signal strength by visiting www.dtv.gov/maps and
entering your address or zip code.
Viewers can also visit www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/dtvantennas.html for
Will my building's master antenna system work
with digital TV signals?
What is a Master Antenna System?
Some people who live in an apartment building, condominium,
home owners' association, high-rise, co-op or other
multiple-dwelling units receive local TV stations
through a master antenna system, sometimes called
a common antenna or an "MATV" system. These
antenna systems receive TV signals through an antenna
on the roof or in a central location and provide
the signals through wiring in the building or development
that connects to the TV set in individual apartments
or homes. Some of these systems provide the local
TV stations for free, and some of them are packaged
with satellite programming and charge a fee. These
shared or community antenna systems are sometimes
known as satellite master antenna systems, or "SMATVs." Also,
some people who live in multiple-dwelling units receive
local TV stations through a private cable operator
serving just one building or homeowners' development.
How is this different from having cable in
If you subscribe to the cable TV service offered in
your city or town, or if you subscribe individually
to satellite TV service and receive your local channels
through your own satellite dish, you will continue
to receive your local broadcast channels without having
to buy a digital television or DTV converter box.
Will my apartment building's master antenna
system work with digital TV signals?
If you receive local TV stations through a shared antenna
or private cable system serving just your building
or homeowners' development, then you need to check
with your building, landlord, condo association, co-op
association, home owners' association, or private cable
operator to find out if you need to take action to
continue to receive local stations after the analog
signals are turned off.
Many of these antenna systems will need some adjustment
so that the digital signals can be received and delivered
through the wiring to your apartment or home for you
to view with a digital converter box or with a digital
television set. Each building's antenna system is different,
so check with your landlord, building manager, homeowner
or condo association or video provider to find out
how you are affected.
If your TV set has a built-in digital tuner, then
you will continue to receive free programming after
the transition. To determine if your set has
this tuner, look on the set for an indication of an
Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) tuner
or ask the TV manufacturer. If you want to buy
a set with a digital tuner, you should know that all
television sets now being sold must either contain
a digital tuner or have a label showing it does not
have the tuner.
TO A CABLE, SATELLITE OR OTHER PAY SERVICE
Any TV sets connected to any of these services will
not be affected by this transition.
ROLE OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK
The DTV transition and the coupon program are mandated
by federal law and regulations and are administered
solely by the federal government. The City of New York
has no ability to change any aspect of the transition
or coupon program.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has created
a search function at http://www.dtv.gov/map.htm?l=EN&m=5,
where you can find phone support, DTV clinics, full-service
walk-in centers, in-home assistance, and other events
in your area.
For more information on the transition, visit www.dtv.gov,
call 311, 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) (voice) or
1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) (TTY), or send an e-mail
to DTVinfo@fcc.gov. For
more information on the coupon program, visit www.dtv2009.gov,
call 311, 1-888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009) (voice),
1-877-530-2634 (English/TTY) or 1-866-495-1161 (Spanish/TTY),
or send an e-mail to https://www.dtv2009.gov/ContactUs.aspx.
INFORMATION IN FOREIGN LANGUAGES
The FCC has posted general information and instructions
for setting up converter boxes in Spanish, Amharic, Arabic,
Bosnian, Cambodian, Chinese, Creole, Farsi, French, Greek,
Hmong, Ilokano, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Kurdish, Laotian,
Navajo, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Samoan,
Somali, Sudanese, Tagalog, Taiwanese, Thai, Tongan, Vietnamese
and Yupik at http://www.dtv.gov/publications.html.