UPDATE: Two reader tips so far, towards the bottom of this post. If anyone else has something, email me and I’ll add it as well.
Major TV networks will end their analog TV broadcasts today, if they haven’t done so already.
For the most part, TV channels in Orange County have been broadcasting digitally for months in preparation for today’s big switch. We’ll see local TV networks powering down their analog signals all day, some probably squeezing it under the government-mandated deadline of midnight tonight, according to the National Association of Broadcasters.
Of course, there are consumers out there who will wake up Saturday wondering why their TV doesn’t work. According to Nielsen Media, approximately 4.46 percent or 252,180 households in the Orange County/Los Angeles area were NOT ready, as of June 7.
Those folks, please see my “Guide to the Digital TV Transition.” You can also call the Federal Communications Commission’s 24-hour hotline with questions, at 888-225-5322 (888-CALL-FCC).
For everyone who used a government-funded $40 coupon to purchase a converter (they’re still available, by the way), Best Buy’s Geek Squad and others are offering free installation if you haven’t set up the machine yet (see “FREE digital TV converter box installation to first 10,700 people” for details). And one reminder from reader Winona, you should not be charged taxes on the converter box coupon (see “Tax discount on digital TV converters bought with coupons.”)
There is a small number of consumers who obviously waited. According to Paula Baldwin, Mistress of Propaganda at Best Buy, “Geek Squad is averaging 144 completed jobs per day (nationwide) on the converter box free install program.”
The transition to digital has been planned for the past decade. But only in the past year have deadlines been set, ads plastered over the airwaves and government stepping in to help make the transition smooth. The easiest way to go digital was to pay for it — a likely reason why most of Orange County’s paid TV services have thrived this year despite the economy.
But just because this is the end of the analog era, that doesn’t mean you should just dump unused analog TVs. The antiquated electronic box can still used to watch VHS or DVD movies, play video games and any other video device that doesn’t rely on analog broadcasts. Or, opt for a paid TV service, which will set you up with its own digital converter box or convert the digital signal back to analog for your TV.
If you do want to get rid of the TV, you’ll need to take it to an e-waste center, which will take it off your hands for free. Orange County has four of them. According to OC Waste & Recyling, there are several other e-waste centers in Orange County that are open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. You can hunt down locations by calling 714-834-4000 or, if you really want them, leave a comment and I’ll paste addresses into this post.
So, let’s do one last check:
1. Rescan your converter box to see if any new channels pop up. You may need to add channels manually. According to the National Association of Broadcasters, available digital channels in the OC/LA area are:
|OC Station||Network||Tune to||Channel|
2. Still missing channels? Adjust the TV antenna. Experts recommend an outdoor antenna placed at the highest point possible to get maximum reception. And while you’re up on the roof checking the antenna, look for wear and tear that could degrade performance.
3. Check the signal strength of TV channels. If signal strength is poor or MIA, tell the station. According to the FCC, “any station that loses 2% or more of the households it served in analog must notify viewers.”
From Mission Viejo reader Bill Roddy: If you have a DVD Recorder with its own tuner, not a line feed from the TV, you should rescan the recorder too. I have a Sony DVD recorder. I called Sony and they confirmed a rescan should be done.
From Pravin Tanwar: If scanning doesn’t work, try double rescanning, which clears converter box memory so it can start fresh, as suggested by the FCC. Instructions are HERE. More links: www.dtv.gov/rescan.html and the video: www.dtv.gov/video/vid_rescan.html
More digital TV transition news:
Check out the Gadgetress Guide to the Digital TV transition.