ATMC addresses misconceptions about digital TV signals

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Your TV will not become obsolete on Feb. 17, 2009, and you don’t have to buy a high-definition TV set to replace it.

But those are some of the misconceptions ATMC staffers have been hearing from their customers since the Federal Communications Commission announced its plans to prohibit TV stations from sending out analog signals in 2009.

On Feb. 17, 2009, all local stations that transmit analog signals will be required to start sending digital signals, according to the FCC regulations.

According to the FCC, analog is a “traditional, less-efficient and lower quality system that uses radio frequency waves to transmit and display pictures and sound,” while digital is a “more efficient method of storing, processing and transmitting information through the use of computer code.”

The upcoming change has people confused, says ATMC Marketing Manager Jody Huestess.

“Everyone seems to think if you don’t have a high-definition TV, you will have to get one because your TVs will be worthless. That’s not true,” he said.

What will happen is the approximate 20 percent of households that use rabbit ears or antennas to obtain TV signals, rather than subscribing to cable or satellite services, will lose their local channels unless they do one of two things: sign up for cable or satellite services or buy a digital converter box.

Each household is eligible for two free $40 digital converter box coupons from the FCC, which can be used to buy a digital converter. The converter changes the digital signal to analog.

Anyone can sign up for the coupons by visiting www.dtv2009.gov. The Web site will explain where to buy the digital boxes in your communities.

“We’ve had the ability for a while, with a number of cable networks, to convert that signal back into analog send it to the TV,” Heustess explained. “We are not requiring our customers to get a digital cable box.”

This transition to digital signals is completely different from the trend toward high-definition, which requires high-definition TV, a high-definition digital cable box and channels showing programs in high-definition, none of which has anything to do with the FCC’s decision.

sarah shew wilson is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or swilson@brunswickbeacon.com.