Digital TV Deadline: June 12, 2009

Get your TV converter box coupons.
white line If you've already got a converter box, you may find these PDFs helpful:

Quick-start guide to installing your converter box.

How to Scan for Channels

Antenna Information

Using a Converter Box with a VCR

DTV Troubleshooting Guide
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Watch Greater Boston's Jared Bowen help a viewer make the switch to digital. (Note: The DTV deadline has been extended to June 12.)
Soon, every TV station in the US will stop transmitting traditional analog signals and begin broadcasting exclusively in a digital format (DTV). Congress voted to delay this mandatory transition until June 12, 2009. All stations, including WGBH, are required to switch to digital-only broadcasts by that time. However, many stations will make the move before June, and some already have. WGBX 44 shut down its analog signal on April 23.

The DTV transition will affect anyone who watches free over-the-air TV programs (through a rooftop antenna or "rabbit ears") on older TV sets. Cable and satellite subscribers should not be affected unless they have extra TVs in the home that are NOT hooked up to their paid subscription service.

If you watch over-the-air programs on any analog TV in your home, you must take action before June 12 in order to continue watching TV. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has three options:

1. Connect your TV to a digital-to-analog converter box. These devices, available in retail stores, convert digital broadcast signals into a format that your analog TV can display. They carry a one-time cost of $50–$70, but you can apply for up to two $40 government coupons to help offset the cost. (Get your coupons.) For more information on this program, visit or call 1-888-388-2009 (voice) or 1-877-530-2634 (TTY).


2. Buy a digital television (a TV with a built-in digital tuner). Any new TV sold after May 2007 must come equipped with a digital tuner or be marked with a disclosure notice if it does not. In addition, many TVs sold as early as 2004 — especially 42-inch models or larger — have digital tuners built in. Remember that you do not need to buy a high-definition TV (HDTV) in order to enjoy digital broadcast television.


3. Subscribe to a paid TV service. If you subscribe to a paid service such as cable or satellite TV, you should contact your provider to see what, if any, new equipment you may need. Remember that you will need a digital-to-analog converter box for any analog TV in your home not connected to your paid TV service.

(Please note: If you use an antenna, you will still need it to pick up digital broadcast signals — even with a converter box or digital television. In most cases, you won't need a new antenna, so don't throw away that old antenna just yet!)

Helpful Links
  • Download this WGBH PDF flyer for a brief summary of the digital TV deadline and some helpful FAQs (versión en español). You will need Adobe Reader, available for free download, to view the PDF.

  • is the FCC's official site regarding the digital TV transition, with frequently asked questions and brochures available in many languages.

  • offers information about the US government's TV Converter Box Coupon Program in multiple languages, as well as the online application form for the coupon.

  • Download a PDF flyer from the FCC comparing the features of 32 digital converter boxes — helpful info before you make a purchase.

  • hosts many helpful resources, including an online quiz to test whether you're ready for the transition. You can also download a quick-start guide to installing your converter box.

  • Do you or does someone you know rely on TV captioning or video description? WGBH has information about how the DTV transition affects those services for viewers with vision or hearing disabilities at

  • Analog TVs can still be used for games and home video, if so equipped. Should you decide to dispose of your old set, check with your local recycling program and your TV's manufacturer to ensure proper disposal. The Environmental Protection Agency offers advice.

  • WGBH is here to help, with information and email updates so that you can continue to receive and enjoy free, over-the-air television after June 2009. Sign up here, and we'll keep you posted. You can also call us at 617-300-5400, Monday–Friday, 9am–5pm, with any questions or comments.