Digital switch looms for TV

Most viewers will be unaffected


On the 'Net

- For more information about the digital TV transition, visit the Federal Communications Commission's Web site at

- To get on the waiting list for digital converter coupons, visit The TV Converter Box Coupon Program's Web site at Though funding for the coupon program has run out, additional coupons may be issued for the waiting list as previously issued coupons expire unused. Each household is eligible for two $40 coupons for the purchase of a converter box.

Steamboat tv18

The local TV station, Steamboat tv18, is aired on Comcast channel 18. All residents with cable service will be able to continue to receive it even after the digital changeover.

— The nationwide transition to digital TV still is set for Feb. 17, after congressional efforts to delay the changeover until June failed this week.

Very few TV viewers in the Yampa Valley will find themselves having any trouble Feb. 17, because anyone with cable or satellite service will not be affected by the analog-to-digital conversion, said Max Atwell, of the Steamboat Springs Radio Shack.

Under an order from Congress, all full-power broadcast TV stations will end analog broadcasting next month.

In short, digital broadcasting takes up less room on the spectrum than analog, allowing not only for more channels but also freeing up space for other uses, said John Weigand, of Yampa Valley Sound Co.

After the Feb. 17 change, TV sets without a digital tuner that receive channels through an antenna will need a converter box that converts digital broadcasts back to analog. All new televisions produced since March 1, 2007, are required to include a digital tuner.

For consumers who aren't sure whether their TV has a digital tuner, The TV Converter Box Coupon Program's Web site recommends checking the owner manual or the manufacturer's Web site. TVs with input connections labeled "digital input" or "ATSC," for Advanced Television Systems Committee, are equipped with a digital tuner, according to the Web site.

Consumers with TV service from a cable box or satellite dish will not be affected by the switch, even if their TV set does not have a digital tuner.

Most consumers in Routt County already have cable or satellite service because the terrain here makes it so difficult to get an acceptable signal with just an antenna, Atwell said.

"There really shouldn't be any panic about it here," Weigand said. "If you're in metro Denver, you're on your own."

Demand for converter boxes has been so low that Radio Shack does not keep them in stock anymore, though they can get them from a distributor in Craig on special order, Atwell said.

Yampa Valley Sound Co. doesn't carry them either, Weigand said.

"The digital TV transition should not be confused with high definition," Weigand said.

- To reach Melinda Dudley, call 871-4203 or e-mail


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