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As every viewer knows, Friday isn’t a great day for TV.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) learned that Friday isn’t a great day to talk about TV, either.
Just four Brooklyn residents showed up at a recent FCC-sponsored event at St. Francis College on Remsen Street to discuss the changes coming to the airwaves next year, when everyone will have to be wired in to watch.
Come February 17, 2009, the era of the rabbit ears and television antennas will be over, promised FCC Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein as he addressed the paltry audience in the school’s auditorium.
Television viewers may have already heard about the changes through a variety of public service announcements about how everything will be broadcasting in digital, he explained, adding that major television stations throughout the United States will stop broadcasting above the analog airwaves.
While most television viewers won’t be affected — because they have cable – residents who prefer to pluck their moving pictures from the air will find nothing but static come February 17.
The change is being made so the FCC can free up some of the airwaves for first responders like the NYPD and the FDNY. The FCC has also agreed to sell some of the frequencies to cell phone providers to the tune of $19 billion dollars.
“This is the biggest change to TV since we switched to color,” Adelstein said, adding that non-cable subscribers won’t be frozen from watching their favorite shows thanks to a handy little digital to analog converter box they can connect to their televisions.
The box, which will cost roughly $40 to $70, should be picked up and installed before February 17, said Adelstein, who added that the FCC was offering $40 coupons for the converter boxes, which are easy to install.
“It’s not that high-tech, even for people who are all thumbs,” he explained.
Adelstein said that with the new converter box, one will get better reception then they did as a rabbit eared renegade. They will also get access to a series of other channels that major broadcasters like NBC will be offering.
NBC News weather forecaster Janice Huff, who moderated the Brooklyn Heights event, explained that with the converter box, viewers will be able to receive an NBC all-news show as well as an NBC all-weather show.
Those in attendance were told that they would not have to pay any extra charges for the continued use of the converter or the extra channels, unlike cable.
While most Americans have cable television – which is unaffected by the FCC’s upcoming change – estimates show that fifteen percent of television viewers still use analog.
Most of those viewers live in big cities like New York, Adelstein said.
Those wishing to learn more about the FCC’s upcoming airwave change, as well as the converter boxes and how one can get a $40 rebate coupon for a converter box can call (800) CALL-FCC or log onto www.dtv.gov.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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