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DTV Converter Box FAQ

Converter Box Details

A DTV converter box is an easy-to-install electronic device that hooks up to your analog television set and over-the-air antenna. The box converts the digital television signal into an analog format, making it viewable on your analog TV set. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is issuing each household up to two $40 coupons to help defray the cost of converter boxes.

When can I obtain a DTV converter box?

DTV converter boxes that transform digital television signals to analog are now available for purchase at electronics retailers across the country. Converter boxes allow consumers to maintain their free, over-the-air television service even on older analog TVs. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is issuing households up to two converter box coupons each valued at $40 to help defray the cost of the converter box.

When can I get a coupon for a DTV converter box?

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) are now issuing coupons for DTV converter boxes. Households may apply for up to two coupons, which must be redeemed within 90 days. The coupons cannot be combined to purchase a single converter box, nor can they be used toward the purchase of other products.

How do I sign up for the DTV converter box coupon program?

Between Jan. 1, 2008, and March 31, 2009, all U.S. households are eligible to request up to two $40 coupons to be used toward the purchase of up to two, digital-to-analog converter boxes. For more information about the converter box coupon program, call 1-888-DTV-2009 or visit www.DTV2009.gov.

How do I hook up a converter box to my TV?

Click here to download a converter box installation guide (pdf).

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How do I know if I have an analog or digital television set?

To check whether your TV set can receive over-the-air digital broadcast signals, review your owner’s manual or examine the set to see if it has a built-in Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) tuner. You can also visit the manufacturer’s Web site and find out the capabilities of the set using the manufacturer model number.

Will I need a special antenna to receive DTV over the air?

If you currently use an indoor or rooftop antenna to receive over-the-air analog broadcast television signals and you already get good or excellent reception quality, you should be able to get reception of digital television broadcast signals with the same antenna. For more information about using an antenna to receive local television broadcast channels, visit http://www.antennaweb.org/.

Can I continue using my existing VCR with a DTV converter box for timed recordings?

Yes. However, after the digital transition, the tuner in the VCR won’t be able to pick up over-the-air programs for recording. Instead, the input to the VCR must be connected to the output of the DTV converter box. You must set the tuner in the DTV converter box to the channel you want to record prior to the start of each recording period programmed in the VCR.

Can I continue viewing closed captioning after my converter box is installed?

Yes. Coupon-eligible converter box manufacturers are required to provide closed captioning for display on your television, but the features provided vary by box. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has produced a guide that lists selected features, including closed captioning, for a number of converter boxes. The guide is updated periodically as new converter boxes become available.

Can I watch TV and record programs on my VCR at the same time?

Yes. If you want to watch and record one program simultaneously, you will only need one converter box. However, if you want to watch one program and record a different channel at the same time, you will need two converter boxes.

Each TV set or TV recording device, such as a VCR, that does not have a digital tuner must be connected to a DTV converter box to continue receiving broadcast signals. Click here to learn how to hook up converter boxes with your VCR, DVR or DVD recorder for recording.

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Launched in January 2007, the DTV campaign’s mission is to ensure that no consumer is left unprepared, due to lack of information, for the February 17, 2009 federally mandated transition from analog to digital broadcasting for all full-power television stations.

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