Updated: Wednesday, 05 Nov 2008, 9:58 PM EST
Published : Friday, 02 May 2008, 10:21 PM EDT
BUFFALO, N.Y. - By now, you've probably seen a message scrolling across the top of your TV screen telling you to get ready for "The Digital Revolution." But what do you really need to do, if anything, to stay tuned?
You have seen the warnings, your TV could be useless, come February, 2009. That's when most television stations in the U.S., including WIVB, are required to switch our broadcasts from an analog signal to digital. For households that are still using an antenna to watch their local channels, that means, a converter box, transforming the signal from digital back to analog. But if you have a pay service?
Stereo Advantage President Craig Werynski told New 4, satellite and cable providers adapt the TV signal for old and new sets, a relief for the vast majority of U.S. households. But if you are getting free TV, with an antenna, you will need the box.
Criag Werynski, President, Stereo Advantage, "Now because the government mandated the transition to digital, they are offering coupons to help defray the cost of the converter boxes. Each household is allowed two $40 coupons, but remember, they are only good for 90 days after you receive the coupons."
The digital transition, though, could shut out a number of local stations. These are known as low power TV stations and they are not going digital. There are nearly three-thousand of these broadcasters in the U.S. and they are suing the government to require converter boxes to have an analog "pass through" so viewers can continue to watch them on free TV.
Criag Werynski, President, Stereo Advantage, "The analog pass through would allow your existing analog television to still receive the analog over to your set, when the box is either turned off, or in some cases there will be the ability to actually hit a button, and have it route through."
If you have a newer TV, less than two years old, Craig Werynski says no box needed. It can receive both analog and digital and you can get a better picture with an antenna.
Criag Werynski, President, Stereo Advantage, "When the cable company or the satellite company gets ahold of the video, they compress it down to fit into their package. Through-the-air is an un-compressed signal, so you have the best sound quality, the best picture quality. You need an antenna to grab it."