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Beware needless purchases for digital TV

The Baltimore Sun

There's a lot of confusion about the move toward digital TV. What you might not know may end up costing you more than it's worth.

The Economic Crimes Unit of the Colorado district attorney's office is warning consumersof scam artists who might try to sell you digital equipment you may not need in preparation for the big digital TV push.

Currently, TV stations in the United States are airing digital television signals and most will continue to provide analog signals, too. But by Feb. 17, 2009, full-power TV stations will cease broadcasting on their current analog channels.

Don't be fooled into purchasing costly or unnecessary equipment. Consumers who rely on antennas to receive over-the-air signals, whether outside or indoor rabbit ears, will need to obtain digital-to-analog set-top converter boxes to watch television. According to, all U.S. households will be eligible to request up to two coupons, worth $40 each, to be used toward the purchase of up to two converter boxes between Jan. 1 this year and March 31, 2009.

The coupon program is administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). For more information, go to

For those of you shopping for a new TV set, watch what you're buying. All televisions were required to include digital tuners as of March 2007. Federal regulations prohibit the manufacture, import, or interstate shipment of any device containing an analog tuner unless it also contains a digital tuner. Despite the prohibition, be aware that retailers may continue to sell analog-only devices from existing inventory.

Analog TVs should come with a specific consumer alert warning you that a converter box will be needed to view over-the-air broadcasts after Feb. 17, 2009. For more information on digital TV, visit

- Dan Thanh Dang

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