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We Interrupt This Program...

by Joe Donlon

Bio | Email | Follow: @pdxpeacock

Posted on February 16, 2007 at 3:37 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:33 PM

Ready for the big announcement? Your TV is about to go blank. It won't work anymore. I can even tell you the date. February 17, 2009.

Before you panic, there are several things you need to know. First - this involves ANALOG television sets. Chances are, you have at least one of them - because they are in some 90% of homes in this country. Analog sets, are the more 'square' shaped televisions - compared to the newer DIGITAL sets, which are more rectangular.

Here's why they won't work. Right now, television stations like KGW broadcast an ANALOG signal. If you have an analog TV, all you need is an antenna (even the old rabbit ears) and you can get the signal FREE.

But on February 17, 2009, the government has ordered broadcasters to abandon the ANALOG spectrum -- and broadcast a DIGITAL signal only. If you have a DIGITAL TV, it will pick up this signal just fine. However, if you have a traditional ANALOG TV, it WILL NOT be able to pick up the DIGITAL signal.

Still with me?

The good news is -- this doesn't mean your analog TV is useless. However, you will need to buy a converter box -- to make it work. That box will basically 'translate' the DIGITAL signal, so your ANALOG TV can see it.

Why the change? Think of the ANALOG SPECTRUM as a limited and VERY valuable pipeline that carries broadcast signals 'over the air.' TV stations occupy some very valuable space on that pipeline. Insiders call it 'beachfront spectrum' - and broadcasters occupy about 60 BILLION dollars worth of it. By moving the broadcasters, it frees up that ANALOG pipeline for police and fire communications, and other companies that are willing to pay the government BIG bucks for it.

Before you get too angry, understand one thing. This is actually GOOD for TV viewers. While technology has been advancing at light speed around us -- TV has been pretty much the same for 50 years. This digital advance, makes an enormous difference in picture quality, and brings many of technological benefits.

Finally -- if you have cable or satellite, this transition should be rather seamless. Chances are, you already have the 'converter' box you will need.

Bottom line -- get ready for some changes over the next two years. Educate yourself, and enjoy the improvements. You'll be fine!

Meantime, I'll have more on this -- tonight on Newschannel 8 at 11.

Joe Donlon