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Digital TV Signal Guide: What You Have to Do to Switch


You may know that full-power television stations in the US are required to stop using the old method of transmitting TV signals and start broadcasting exclusively in a digital format on February 17, 2009, but do you know what you have to do to switch?

If you use an antenna to watch free, over-the-air television on an analog TV set (and don't subscribe to a pay TV service) then you will be affected by the transition. If you pay for TV services, such as cable or satellite, then you will not need to upgrade. For a better look at the rules and a guide to figuring out if you need to switch, read more.


Type of TV You Have What You Have to Do to Switch
Antenna on Analog TV If you watch free broadcast television using an antenna on a TV set that has an analog tuner – and don't subscribe to cable, satellite or other pay TV service – you will be affected by the transition. You can upgrade to DTV by taking one of three steps:

  • Purchase a DTV converter box.
  • Purchase a digital TV set
  • Subscribe to cable, satellite or other pay TV service
Antenna on Digital TV If your TV set has a built-in digital tuner, then you will continue to receive free programming after the transition.
Cable Television If all of your TV sets are connected to cable, satellite or other pay TV service, you should not be affected by the transition. But any sets not connected to a pay TV service will need to be upgraded before the transition.
Satellite Service If all of your TV sets are connected to cable, satellite or other pay TV service should not be affected by the transition. But any sets not connected to a pay TV service will need to be upgraded.

  • However, satellite companies in some areas may not provide or may charge extra for local television channels. If you receive local stations using an antenna, your TV set may need to be upgraded with a converter box if it does not have a built-in digital tuner.

For further details, visit DTV Answers.

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