Most Americans should be aware that DTV Day, or the day almost all USA television broadcasters turn off their old analog transmissions and switch to the new digital signals, has been delayed until June 12. But about a third of the approximately 1,800 television stations have already made the switch to digital.
Hawaii already made the switch to all digital transmissions in January. That is because they are far enough away to be isolated from television transmissions from the mainland. About 500 other stations planned to make the switch as originally scheduled on February 17. The major networks have been asked to continue to broadcast analog signals until June 12 and are expected to do so.
The main reason cited for the delay is because the government ran out of funding for the $40 discount coupon program for DTV-to-analog converter boxes. An additional $650 million in coupon funding is in the economic stimulus package, in addition to $1.3 billion already spent. When the NTIA (National Television and Information Administration) ran out of funding, it had to stop shipping coupons. There are about 4 million households on the waiting list.
The government has already sold the rights to the old analog frequencies. I’ve seen different reports that mention different amounts that the government is supposed to get for selling the rights. The amount is somewhere between $8 billion and $20 billion. The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 requires that this money be spent to reduce the deficit. Given the current economic situation, that sounds pretty meaningless, because the money could be spent on any program which would reduce the deficit.
If your wish to obtain the $40 coupons for DTV-to-analog converter boxes, and you have not already done so, at the time of this writing you can still apply at the government’s Digital TV Transition web site. Each household can apply for up to two coupons. The coupons come in the form of a government debit card that can only be used to purchase digital converter boxes. The coupons are dated and you must use them before the expiration date.
Here is a hint: households that are "analog only" will get top preference for remaining coupons. I suspect that when the funding dries up for the remaining coupon, you will be on your own to purchase a digital-to-analog converter box at full price.
If you have analog-only televisions and use an antenna for reception, you will need a DTV-to-analog converter box for each television. If you subscribe to a cable or satellite service, you do not need to purchase a converter box. Cable and satellite services are managing the conversion for you.