The Federal Communications Commission has launched a digital converter box that will replace analog television, nationwide starting midnight Feb. 17, 2009.
With the digital converter box, viewers will receive digital television and broadcasters are able to put forward better pictures and sound.
The converter serves as an adapter for analog television to pick up a more advanced picture.
Wade Mike, sales manager at Best Buy in Tallahassee, said the converter box can be purchased at many retail stores in the city.
“The boxes have been in stock for about four months now,” Mike said. “All stores are selling them for about the same price.”
Similar to Sears, Wal-Mart has the Magnavox, as well as the RCA converter.
According to dtv2009.gov, the general price of all converters, no matter the brand, is $50.
But selected stores have the converters ranging from $45.99 to $69.99.
Employees at retail stores selling the converter boxes said as the switch date approaches, sales are bound to rise.
“We usually sell about 10 to 15 boxes a week,” said Jesse Boyce, a sales associate at Radio Shack. “I project that the number of sales will increase as the day of the switch gets closer.”
According to associates from both companies, Best Buy and Radio Shack had only one brand in stock, while stores such as Sears, Target and Wal-Mart have two.
Customers can find brands like Magnavox and DTV Pal at Sears.
Target, unlike Sears, has two completely different brands, General Electric and Venturer.
Even though it’s true that GE is more popular, both converters come with the box, a remote and an adapter, said entertainment specialist Jacob Heath.
“More of the GE has been sold because the name is familiar,” Heath said.
With the switch, Comcast representatives said cable customers are becoming concerned about having to purchase a converter box. However, there is no need.
“There will be no changes to make,” a Comcast representative said. “If your cable is connected through a box or from the wall to your TV you will still have service.”
Students like Jerry St. Louis, a physical therapy student from Ft. Lauderdale who does not have digital television, are not pleased with the switch to the converter box.
“All I know is that my TV won’t work without the converter box,” St. Louis said. “My TV works fine now without it, so what’s the need for it?”
However, others said it will be beneficial.
“It’s necessary because if you don’t get the box, your TV will no longer work,” said Edna Francois, a third-year nursing student from Miami. “You’ll have to purchase a whole new TV, which is more expensive. You’ll get better quality by getting the box instead of a new TV.”
The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration has provided a TV Converter Box Coupon Program.
At this site customers are able to receive a $40 coupon to put toward the purchase of any converter box. Coupons are sent out in the form of gift cards and there is a minimum of two per household. They have been available since Feb. 18, 2008 and are being sent out in the order in which they were requested.
The Federal Trade Commission has offered a help guide for residents who need more assistance with understanding the change. Visit dtv2009.com for help.