There's a revolution coming in broadcast television, and for those not yet equipped to handle the change, solutions are standing by. The long-discussed Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandate to switch off analog television signal transmission across the country is now slated for Feb. 17, 2009. Digital TV broadcasting will replace remaining analog signals, a move already begun or implemented in many U.S. markets. People who use cable or satellite TV, regardless of their televisions' functionality, will not be affected by the conversion; those with antenna-based TVs that have only analog tuners, however, have been bracing themselves for the inevitable kick of their old TVs to the curb.
Not so fast. Technology comes to the rescue, in the form of a converter box that massages DTV signals back to the analog format needed for legacy television compatibility. Converter boxes from a variety of manufacturers have made their way to consumer electronics store shelves in recent months to help ease customers through the pending DTV changeover. Because the analog signal "go-dark" order was imposed by the FCC, there's even an offer for U.S. government help: To defray the cost of spectral repurposing, consumers can apply for $40 coupons from the Department of Commerce to be used toward the purchase of an approved DTV converter box.