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Digital TV age beckons

February 17 is right around the corner, and to help residents get ready for the switch to digital television, the Richmond Hill Block Association (RHBA) hosted a respresentative of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) at its most recent meeting.
Daniel Noel, FCC District Director, said that, for those not currently getting their TV signal from cable or a satellite, a converter box is necessary. Calling the device “simple to hook up,” he said it costs between $40 and $60. And if you have an analog set, he said, you may need an antenna as well in order to get reception.
The reason for the digital switch, said Noel, is that the frequencies (or air space) will be used for public safety – police and firefighters – and for the provision of advanced commercial wireless services for consumers.
Digital TV, noted Noel, will give viewers more channels as well.
All stations in New York are already transmitting in digital signals, he said, but at midnight on February 17, “federal law requires that all full-power television broadcast stations stop broadcasting in analog format and broadcast only in digital format.” However, President Barack Obama is seeking to push back the switch to June 12, thought House Republicans defeated the bill.
In the meantime, until March 31, all households can request up to two coupons worth $40 each, to be used for the purchase of converter boxes.
For more information about the DTV transition, go to www.dtv.gov, email dtv-info@fcc.gov, or call 888-CALL-FCC.

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