February 17, 2009 is the day when the analog transmitters of TV stations will shut down for the "DTV Transition." Apparently the government bumbled this transition again just like they did with the metric system. Why didn't the FCC mandate 5-10 years ago that digital tuners are to be included with every new television the same way that UHF (ch. 14-83, now 14-69) tuners were included in 1964?
I don't want to be victimized by poor planning. These converters are very expensive, right now greater than $100. For the last 10 years, the focus was on power-hungry wide-screen televisions that may or may not include a DTV tuner and regular TV that didn't have a DTV converter were still being sold even to this day (except that the retailer must post a notice about the switchover). Yet converters were on the back-burner until now when the manufacturers are scrambling to improve the production enough to keep it within $50 to speed up the transition. Why did they squander so much valuable time away in the first place? Haste makes waste though especially if many of those $50 boxes turn out to be defective.
There are coupons but they are only worth $40 off a "government approved" basic model converter. Notice that they are coupons
NOT certificates so you will have to pay the difference which hopefully will turn out to be $10-20 unless the approved converters are $200 each due to the slacking. Two coupons per household, so if you have satellite or cable be sure to get them right away because if the initial funding runs out and there needs to be a second round, terrestrial-only owners are eligible. Apparently broadcasters are complaining that the fund is underfunded.
Coupons are available starting January 1, 2008 and approved receivers should be available in early 2008. Prices might be higher in the beginning but may lower as the deadline nears.
On the web:
DIGITAL TELEVISION (DTV) Tomorrow's TV Today!
--Official DTV transition website
NTIA: Digital TV Transition and Public Safety
--Coupon program information
Digital TV Facts | The switch to digital television