Thursday, April 3, 2008

High Def Jam: Will Your TV Leave You in the Dark?

The end of analog TV – over-the-air signals received by antenna – was a key topic of the Consumer Electronics Association ( Washington Forum on April 2-3.


After February 17, 2009, all full-power TV stations will broadcast only in digital. So if you don’t have cable or satellite or HDTV, you’ll have to do something. Otherwise, your analog TVs that rely on antennas to pick up channels and that do not have digital tuners will go dark.

What to do:

If you don’t want to buy a new TV or subscribe to cable or satellite, shop for a TV converter box.

How to save money:

The Fed government has launched an appx $1.5 billion (ouch said the taxpayer) initiative provide households with up to two $40 coupons to put towards a TV converter box or two. Depending on features, the boxes will cost between $40 and $70.

How to get your coupons:

The coupons are free, but the supply is limited. Applications are now being accepted up to March 31, 2009.

Important: the coupons expire within 90 days of receipt and cannot be reissued, so time your purchase accordingly.

Ways to get your coupons:

* Call 1.888.388.2009

* Go online

* Or send a letter to: TV Converter Box Coupon Program, PO Box 2000, Portland OR 97208


Electronics contain substances that are definitely bad for the environment, which (for those who don’t care much about animals or planet Earth) includes people. Toxic stuff leeches into the ground. So: recycle.

At the conference, panelists discussed the issue. Just-released study results indicate that households receiving broadcast signals only over-the-air expect to remove fewer than 15 million TV sets from their homes through 2010. About 95% are expected to be donated, recycled or sold (hmmm....wonder who’s buying?). Some 48% of the affected folks expect to buy a digital converter box and keep using their old faithfuls.

According to the survey, consumers report recycling nearly 30% more TVs in 2007 than in 2005. That trend also extends to other CE categories. While only 3% more devices were removed from homes in 2007, 27% more devices were recycled. The number of home electronica winding up in the trash reportedly decreased by 7% between 2005 and 2007.

How to give those old sets away:

Some folks use them as extra monitors, some for parts, some to pick up independent channels that we’re told pulse somewhere out in the airwaves. Some great websites for giving away all manner of stuff follow. They have local web communities; click and you’ll find one close to you:

CEA offers a helpful website about reuse and recycling of electronics and also lists electronics recyclers by easy-share zip code:

Convert Your Mom

In some areas, it’s a good bet that senior citizens knew about the analog-to-digital transition way ahead of the iPod and home theater generations. But to make sure golden agers get the news, the Consumer Electronics Association has recruited Florence Henderson – Carol Brady, the mod matriarch, on “The Brady Bunch” – for its Convert Your Mom public awareness campaign.

We think The Golden Girls would have been a cool choice. Or even just Maude.

More info: