FCC Town Hall Forum Oct. 13 to Discuss Digital TV Broadcasting

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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FCC Town Hall Forum Oct. 13 to Discuss Digital TV Broadcasting

Posted: 10/10/2008
Federal Communications Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate will hold Town Hall Forum Monday at the University of Tennessee on the upcoming transition to digital, or DTV, television broadcasting.

Mayor Bill Haslam will introduce Commissioner Tate and welcome those in attendance.

The FCC Town Hall Forum will be from 10:30 a.m. until noon Monday in the Shiloh Room of UT's University Center. The event is free to the public and free parking will be available in the University Center Garage.

The transition to digital television is set for February 17, 2009.

Monday's forum aims to explain the reasons for the switch to DTV and how people who currently receive free, over-the-air television programming on older "analog" televisions using a rooftop antenna or "rabbit ears" can continue to receive programming after the transition.

The federal government, for example, has a digital-to-analog converter box coupon program - which will help citizens with analog televisions obtain the necessary converter boxes to continue receiving their television signals after February 17.

The program will include a demonstration on how to install a converter box.

The forum is part of a series of similar events the FCC is holding in cities where more than 100,000 households or at least 15 percent of the households rely on free, over-the-air signals for television reception.

Knoxville falls into that group of cities.

This does not apply to households who receive television reception through some type of pay system like cable.

Television stations currently broadcast over the air in both digital and analog. Congress authorized the switch to solely digital broadcasting more than a decade ago for several reasons.

The change, for instance, frees up parts of the broadcast spectrum for public safety communications - for agencies like fire and police departments and rescue squads - and for additional wireless communications.

Digital has other advantages like improved picture and sound quality and stations can offer several channels of digital programming in the same amount of spectrum needed for a single analog offering according to an FCC website.

Newer televisions have what is essentially a DTV receiver and they will be able to receive free over-the-air digital programming after February 17, 2009.

However, many older televisions can only receive analog signals. People who receive free, over-the-air signals with that type of television will need to obtain the digital-to-analog converter boxes.

The FCC is hoping that events like the one on Monday will raise awareness of the impending change and also give it a face-to-face opportunity to help people with analog reception take the steps they need to continue to receive free, over-the-air television.

More information about the transition to DTV and what viewers can do if they rely on analog reception is available at www.dtv.gov or at www.fcc.gov.