Having problems with the Digital TV switch today? Tell us here
It's a modern day paradox: At a time when we're more connected than ever, the people most likely to be affected by the switch to digital television are those least likely to show up in a place like this.
Still, we're on the cusp of momentous change. By 1 p.m. today, most local stations will have ended their analog broadcasts forever, turning over the frequencies to the government for use or leasing. As of Thursday, an estimated 28,000 households in the Tampa Bay area were expected to lose TV service completely -- homes with no cable or satellite TV service or television sets capable of picking up digital signals.
The Tampa Bay area is among the nation's most wired communities, with 93 percent of our homes receiving satellite or cable, so the impact is expected to be minimal. But if you're having problems dealing with the change, feel free to sounds off here.
I've been covering the impending switch for over a year, so I may have some information which can help. Click here to check out a guide to the switch I pulled together back in December. Here's my story on the Maytag repairman of the digital switch, Chris Hendrix.
Look below for a list of last-minute tips I pulled together for today's newspaper.
And feel free to chime in here with any problems or issues you may be experiencing:
• Only viewers who receive TV signals through an antenna connected to a TV that does not receive digital frequencies will be affected. Most newer TVs can receive digital signals; check your owner’s manual or look up the model online if you remain unsure.
• If you have an analog TV, you can purchase a digital-to-analog converter for about $60 at an electronics retailer such as Best Buy, RadioShack or Wal-Mart. The government will provide coupons worth $40 toward these purchases until July 31 or supplies run out. See www.dtv2009.gov to apply.
• There is free help available to connect digital-to-analog converters in your home and help with reception. You must already own a converter and technicians are not allowed to sell you equipment or services. They are allowed to connect up to two converters, scan for available channels and make minor adjustments to your antenna. See www.dtv.gov and enter your zip code in the Get Help Locally menu for multiple numbers. The FCC also has a hotline: 1-888-CALL-FCC (225-5322).
• If you already have a digital-to-analog converter, you should scan for available channels after the switch today. Several broadcasters will change frequencies or frequency strength after ending analog service; rescanning ensures you won’t lose channels.
• Portable analog TV sets used for emergencies, camping or boat trips will no longer operate, unless connected to a converter. There are a few battery-powered portable digital TVs on the market, priced at about $150 and at least one battery-powered converter kit, priced at about $90.
• High definition TV is different from digital TV. You can purchase a standard-definition TV set that receives digital signals, though some viewers have used the switch as an excuse to purchase televisions with greater features. Similarly, cable systems will continue carrying the same array of stations they always have. But if viewers want to see the extra digital channels offered by broadcasters, they will likely need a different cable tuner. Contact your cable provider for details.
• To see what new programming is available locally on digital channels, go to tv.tampabay.com. You’ll need to pick your cable provider and scan pretty far down in the listings, but you’ll know it when you come to the listing for WEDU-DT, the first of local channels listed