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How to Prepare for the Switch to Digital TV

Prepare for the switch to digital TV by following our tips on dealing with your old television and rabbit-ear antenna.


  • Step 1: Understand what's happening On February 17th, 2009, television stations must stop using the old method of transmitting a signal to your set, called analog, and start using digital, a new method that offers improved picture quality and, in some cases, more channels. Your TV set may be affected by the switch, but it's easy to adjust to the digital world.
  • Step 2: Figure out if your set is digital First, determine what type of TV you have. If you bought it before 1998, it's definitely analog. If your set dates to 1998 or later, check your owner's manual. Sets with built-in digital tuners are in the clear. For analog televisions, you've got three options.
  • Step 3: Buy a converter One way to receive digital transmissions is to buy a digital-to-analog converter box for your TV set at an electronics store, and follow the manufacturer's directions to connect and operate it. Depending on the broadcast quality in your area and whether or not you already use one, you may need an antenna along with the converter.
  • TIP: Government-issued coupons for digital converters are available online at "":
  • Step 4: Subscribe to a pay-TV service The second option is a satellite, cable, or other pay-TV subscription. If you currently subscribe or decide to sign up, your signal should continue without interruption even if your TV doesn't have a digital tuner or converter box.
  • Step 5: Buy a digital TV Your third alternative is to scrap your old analog set and buy a TV with a pre-installed digital tuner. You won't need a converter or pay-tv service with this option. Just relax, and enjoy your favorite shows. (Your new set might even receive more channels.)
  • FACT: The last day to request converter coupons is March 31, 2009, but supplies may run out before then.

You Will Need

  • A digital-to-analog converter box
  • A pay-TV service
  • A TV with a built-in digital tuner
  • An antenna

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