Television networks will cease broadcasting analog signals on February 18, 2009 as part of a Congressionally-mandated change in television broadcasting. South Dakotans relying on rooftop or indoor antennas will then need to purchase digital-to-analog converters to continue to receive television reception.
The switch will also free up bandwidth that will be used for new public safety communications services, and make it easier for first responders to communicate with one another.
The government is currently offering every household two $40 coupons that can be used to purchase two separate converters in preparation for the change. The coupons, which will remain available through March 31, 2009, will decrease the cost of the devices, which cost aproximately $60 to $80 each.
"The conversion process would never be painless, but it's time has come," Johnson said. "This change will provide first responders with the signals they need to reach one another and keep citizens safe in South Dakota and across the nation. The coupons will also allow households to make the switch with less strain on their pocketbooks."
Coupons are available by calling 1-888-388-2009 or by visiting www.dtv2009.gov. The coupons expire 90 days after they are issued, so it is recommended that they are requested shortly before households are prepared to purchase the converters.
The change was mandated by Congress as part of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which also included a provision authorizing the government to oversee this subsidy program. Subscribers to cable, satellite or television services provided by a telephone company will not be affected by this change.