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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 are full-power.

If you have lost your signals, you'll need to take appropriate action for your TV service to resume.

OPTIONS TO KEEP RECEIVING TV SIGNALS

Consumers who have lost TV signals have three options:

  1. Keep your existing TV and purchase a TV converter box and possibly a new antenna; or
  2. Purchase a television with a digital tuner; or
  3. 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 CONVERTER BOX

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 already submitted.

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:

  1. Don't give your Social Security number or other sensitive financial information when you redeem your coupon.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 converter box).
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 more information

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 my building?
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.

TELEVISIONS WITH DIGITAL TUNERS

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.

TELEVISIONS CONNECTED 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.

MORE INFORMATION

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.


Copyright 2008 The City of New York