So what happens to my television set on 2/17/09? Will it not work anymore?
Well, if you have an older TV and you use an antenna system, like good-old-fashioned rabbit ears, or a roof antenna, then your television set will not work on that day without a little help.
You can keep watching TV broadcasts with your old television set if you buy a converter box that can make sense of the new digital transmissions and show them on your old television set.
These converter boxes are now available for purchase. Each household will be eligible for up two $40 coupons, each of which can be put toward the purchase of one digital converter box.
What if I have cable?
If you have cable television service, then you will not need to worry about the changeover to digital transmission. The cable company will take care of the conversion necessary to watch digital broadcasts on your television set.
I bought a new television set recently. Will I be able to watch digital broadcasts on it without a converter box?
Only if your new television has a built-in digital tuner. As of March 1, 2007 all televisions shipped in the United States or imported here are required to have a built-in digital tuner. Consult the product manual for your new television set to find out if it can receive and display digital broadcasts without a converter box.
If it turns out that your new television does not have a built-in digital tuner, you still should be able to watch digital broadcasts with the help of a converter box (mentioned above), or cable TV service.
What about High-Definition Television (HDTV)?
High-Definition Television provdes a higher-quality picture through digital transmission. However, not all digital broadcasts are in high-definition. So while you definitely won't be able to see HDTV on your old-style analog television set, if you are interested in HDTV, you'll absolutely need a television set that a) is able to display high-definition pictures properly, and b) has a digital tuner.
But, keep in mind that just because you may have a television set that meets the above criteria doesn't mean that everything you see on it is high-definition. Most programs that are transmitted in HD are billed as such. Parts of the KTLA Morning Show and KTLA Prime News are transmitted in high-definition.
DTV Consumer Education Report: First Quarter 2008