Thursday, August 14, 2008

Should You Get a DTV Converter Anyway?

It's impossible to watch television in the U.S. lately without seeing ads reminding viewers that analog transmissions will end on February 17, 2009 (except for low-power stations.) Like most viewers, I've ignored these messages, because I'm a cable subscriber, and over-the-air service is lousy in my area. However, there's potentially a good reason to get a coupon and buy a converter, if you have one or more sets with analog tuners: Over-the-air broadcasters will be able to multicast--send multiple subchannels of programming within a single digital channel. In my market, there are three stations that are already multicasting, and I receive their multicast channels on Comcast cable. However, there is no FCC rule that requires cable or satellite operators to multicast every channel put on the air by broadcasters.

In my market (San Francisco/San Jose), the subchannels of commercial broadcasters are being used for weather services and news rebroadcasts--nothing astounding. Nevertheless, broadcasters are being offered a plethora of programming to fill these new subchannels, and some of it might be interesting. In any event, if you've got some analog sets and you're not planning to toss them out anytime soon, you might consider getting some of them digital converter coupons, and then purchasing a converter box.

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