On September 7, 1927, 19-year-old Philo T. Farnsworth created the first television system that could not only display, but transmit signals between separate rooms. Now more than 80 years later, another historic date in broadcast transmissions is upon us. On February 17, 2009, all full-power broadcast television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting on analog airwaves and begin broadcasting only in digital.
“Congress enacted this as part of the Digital Television Act of 2005 and it was signed into law in 2006,” says Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner Robert M. McDowell. “Part of the rationale is that it’s more efficient to use digital technologies, and they take up less of the spectrum than analog technologies.” What the changeover means is that any viewers who currently rely on antennas or “rabbit ears” to watch television will no longer get a broadcast signal unless they get a converter box.
Before you start panicking that you won’t be able to watch your favorite shows come February sweeps time, don’t fret. Condos and co-ops throughout New York and New Jersey have already begun preparing for the changeover, and every building should have all the equipment necessary to broadcast digitally by the time February 17th rolls around. In the meantime, a little information might be helpful.
While it may seem crazy to some that people still watch TV the old fashioned way and haven’t made the switch to cable, not everyone needs that many channels—and not everybody can afford them.
The expiring analog channels in most cases allow for up to 21 channels, including all the major networks. The main job for condos, co-ops, and homeowner associations in dealing with the changeover is to hire a master antenna service provider to update the equipment that is sitting on their roofs.