About a year remains before all TV broadcasts will be in digital format

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By Johnathan Ryan

Some people with analog television sets are scratching their heads over how they'll continue enjoying TV once the federal government mandates all broadcasts be in digital come February 2009.

Lone analog television sets without cable or satellite service won't be able to receive broadcasts then, but the government and other interests are now working to make analog owners aware of what can be done once the change-over goes into effect.

The obvious choice is to buy a digital television set. That is, one with a built-in digital tuner - now the only type sold by most retailers. These television sets do not have to be high-definition (or HD) TVs.

But what if you don't want to buy a new digital television set?

Yes, there will still be ways to use your old analog set come next February.

Comporium Communications will convert digital signals for its cable TV subscribers with analog sets for at least three years after the change-over.

"We realize there are a lot of people out there still with analog sets," said Glenn McFadden, executive vice president of operations at Comporium Communications.

But the main push to facilitate the change is coming from the federal government in the form of coupons to buy digital-to-analog converter boxes for analog sets.

The converters – which aren't for sale in most places yet – will cost between $40 and $70. Each household will be eligible for up to two coupons at $40 apiece.

The Energy Center, a local appliance and electronics store, will likely start selling the converters in late summer or early fall, said owner Doug Crenshaw.

He said he was just recently certified to accept the coupons once his store starts selling the converters.

One condition to being certified is an agreement not to pressure analog set owners into buying digital televisions, Crenshaw said.

For more information on the change-over coming, visit the federal government's Web site, www.dtv.gov. It is devoted to informing the public of what it needs to know about the change.

For specific information on the coupons, go to www.dtv2009.gov or call (888) 388-2009. The hearing impaired may call (877) 530-2634.

Contact Johnathan Ryan at 416-8416 or jryan@thelancasternews.com