Viewpoint: The DTV transition is finally here
On June 12, Minnesotans made the transition -- along with all Americans -- to an all-digital television transmission.
If you use cable or satellite television, you should have experienced no difficulties with this transition. But, if you have rabbit ears or another antenna on top of your analog set, you may need some help getting set up.
Most TVs sold after 2007 will have a digital tuner already installed and like those with cable or satellite service, these consumers should need to take no additional action. Your owner's manual will specify how your TV receives channels if you're not sure.
If you only receive public broadcast television, and your TV does not have a digital receiver, you may need a DTV convertor box. You do not need to buy a new TV or subscribe to a cable service to receive the public channels you have always enjoyed.
If you need assistance buying a convertor box, coupons are available at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) website, www.dtv.gov, to help you cover the cost.
In fact, over the past year, my office has helped many families in Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District get converter box coupons to ensure that analog televisions were able to receive the new signal come June 12.
Minnesotans have requested over one million coupons, but as of June, only 763,814 have been redeemed.
If you have a coupon already, be sure to use it within the 90 days from when it was mailed. The coupon becomes void if it expires and you will need to request another one.
At www.dtv.gov, you can find out where to buy a convertor box, a shopping guide to help you buy the right box, as well as tips to help solve any problems that may come up. In addition, you can call the FCC's DTV Hot Line with your questions: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322).
If you already have all the equipment you need to make the transition, but aren't comfortable installing it yourself, you can call on the Geek Squad.
The FCC has contracted with these specially-trained technicians to help you connect up to two converter boxes and trouble shoot any problems you may have.
To find out if you qualify for this free assistance, call 877-BBY-DTV9 (877-229-3889) before June 30, 2009.
The digital television transition is meant to both clear up analog stations to be used for public safety and emergency services and also to allow TV stations to offer higher quality broadcasts and more programming options through multi-casting, which you see on your TV as channel 2.1, for example.
I encourage you to visit www.dtv.gov if you have any questions about how you may be impacted by this transition.
I also invite you to call my office for any questions you may have about the DTV switch.
In Woodbury at (651) 731-5400 and in Waite Park at (320) 253-5931, my staff has been following the progress of the coupon program and the digital transition and will try to answer any questions you have.
And, we're always pleased to try to get answers to your questions.
U.S. Rep. Bachmann (R-Stillwater) represents Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District. She can be reached at (202) 225-2331 or (651) 731-5400.