New broadcast signals to make older TVs obsolete

Thursday, December 13th 2007, 11:35 am
By: News 9

By Joel Craig, NEWS 9 Contributor

I want to start with a date, February 17th, 2009, it's a day that promises to forever change the way many of you watch TV.

That's the day the Federal Communications Commission will shut down all transmitters that have sent their signals to you for years.

Some of you are thinking why should I care?  We've gone through changes before, and it was no big deal.

I mean come on we went from black and white to color and your black and white TV still worked. Yeah OK you didn't get color but you still got the black and white picture.

Then along came stereo sound and amazingly your old non-stereo TV still worked and you could still hear.

But this isn't like those other changes.  This is reminiscent of when TV was first introduced.  If you had a radio you weren't going to watch TV on it and with the change to HDTV your old TV isn't going to get the picture either.

All broadcast television - that means "over the air" - you know the kind that needs an antenna on the roof or even rabbit ears - will have to broadcast high-definition television. Better known as HDTV these digital signals can't be received by most TVs.

 If you're watching TV provided by cable or satellite companies you probably aren't going to know the difference.

But if you don't have an HDTV, and aren't paying those companies for HDTV you won't get high definition.  You might see a picture on your screen, but you'll actually be watching a signal electronically bumped down to a level your TV understands.

That little HD logo in the corner of the screen won't be applying to you - just like "the following program is brought to you in living color" didn't apply if you had a black and white TV.

So, if you're one of the millions of homes only using an antenna for "over the air" reception you'll have to make a change. You'll have to get an "HDTV converter" or better-known as a "set top box."

A box like this receives HDTV signals and converts them to something your current TV can understand and use.