Pioneer Valley
Planning Commission

Eric Carle Museum, Amherst, MA
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Press Release

CONTACT: Timothy Brennan, PVPC Executive Director, 413) 781-6045
June 9, 2008

PVPC Urges TV Viewers to Gear Up for Conversion to All-Digital Television

The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) will sponsor DTV Awareness Day Friday, June 20, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. at Holyoke Community College, Frost Building, Room 309. This public informational forum for western Massachusetts will include a presentation by Emmitt Carlton, Special Counsel in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs in the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

February 17, 2009 has been set as the deadline for the digital transition by the U.S. Congress. After that date, most TV broadcasting will be digital. For viewers who have one or more televisions that receive free over-the-air programming (with a roof-top antenna or “rabbit ears” on the TV), the type of TV you own is very important. A digital television (a TV with an internal digital tuner) will allow you to continue to watch free over-the-air programming after February 17, 2009. However, if you have an analog television, you will need a digital-to-analog converter box to continue to watch broadcast television on that set. This converter box will also enable you to see any additional multicast programming that your local stations are offering.

Beginning in 2008, U.S. households may be able to obtain up to two coupons worth $40 each toward the purchase of converter boxes. The program will be run by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a part of the U.S. Department of Congress, which has issued rules regarding the coupon program.  

If you are a cable or satellite customer, you will need to check with your service provider to be assured of a smooth transition after February 17, 2009.

Why is the country converting to digital? Digital broadcasting allows stations to offer improved picture and sound quality, and digital is much more efficient than analog. For example, rather than being limited to providing one analog program, a broadcaster is able to offer a super-sharp high definition (HD) digital program or multiple standard definition (SD) digital programs simultaneously through a process called multicasting. Multicasting allows broadcast stations to offer several channels of digital programming at the same time, using the same amount of spectrum required for one analog program. Further, DTV can provide interactive video and data services that are not possible with analog technology.

An important benefit of the switch to all-digital broadcasting is that it will free up parts of the valuable broadcast spectrum for public safety communications (such as police, fire departments, and rescue squads). Also, some of the spectrum will be auctioned to companies that will be able to provide consumers with more advanced wireless services (such as wireless broadband).

For one of the best sources of information about the digital transition, visit or call 1-888-CALL-FCC. You can get information on what DTV is, questions consumers should ask when purchasing new television sets, what programs are available in DTV, and much more.


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