Digital TV Converter Box

NOTE: The free federal digital TV convertor coupon program ended on July 31, 2009. Information about digital TV conversion and how to improve over air digital TV antenna reception can be found at fcc.gov. Assistance in locating over air TV stations broadcasting in your area and finetuning your antenna can be found at AntennaWeb.org.

Danny Lipford with digital TV.At midnight on February 17, 2009, analog television signals stopped broadcasting over the airwaves in the U.S. and digital signals took their place.

While this didn’t affect TV sets with digital tuners, or those on cable or satellite, a converter box is now necessary for older sets that use an antenna.

To help homeowners with the change, the federal government gave away $40 coupons for the purchase of a digital converter box.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Question:

    I subscribe to cable. Only one of the TVs in the house is connected to a cable box. I currently do not subscribe to digital service. The other TVs are directly connected to the cable without any boxes. Given this scenario, will I need to get any DTV boxes?

  2. Armando,
    If your reception is coming through cable, you should not need a converter box regardless of whether you subscribe to their digital service or not.

    • Gabe,
      You should be able to watch all the channels broadcast over the air that have a strong enough signal for your antenna, including channels over 13. Go to AntennaWeb and fill out the address form to find out the channels you will be able to receive and how strong the signal to them will be. Channels listed in red should come in fine with rabbit ears, others may require a rooftop mounted antenna.

  3. Ben,
    I sent away for the coupons for the digital boxes last year. However as you probably know they have an expiration date on them, and I was unable to afford them before the coupons expired. I have appealed this with the program website and I have not heard one word! It has benn 6 montha ago. I still can’t afford to puchase them at full price. Do you know of any place to that can help me with this. Thank you for any help.
    Thank you Portia Knight

  4. Hi Portia,
    A provision in the recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 allows those whose coupons have expired to apply for a replacement on a first come, first serve basis.

    Info on it is at http://www.dtv2009.gov/CouponProgramUpdate.aspx
    The application form is at http://www.dtv2009.gov/ApplyCoupon.aspx

    You can also apply for a coupon by phone at (888) 388-2009, or mail your application to P.O. Box 2000, Portland, OR 97208.

  5. i am in need of a coverter box, and i cannot afford to buy one yet i cant seem to figure out how to get the coupon to get the cost covered …HELP PLEASE!

    • Hi Sarah,
      The federal government free coupon for a digital TV convertor ended on July 31, 2009. I’ve updated the article above to include a government website that gives you more information about digital TV conversion.

  6. I am unable to afford converter boxes I need five.Me,wife,3 kids are living on ssi and cannot afford to purchase.Please help us in anyway.David Giles,6036 Pine Street,Philadelphia Pa.19143,or feel free to call us @2673332623.

    • Angela,
      While the government coupon for free TV antennas has expired, you can still buy an over the air HD antenna for under $20 at most stores like Walmart or Target.

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