Television switchover arrives Feb. 17

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iStockPhoto.com/Diane Diederich
NOTHING BUT SNOW: Don't let the digital television transition leave you out in the snow. Be sure your TV is ready for the switchover.

Television lovers should prepare for the digital television transition coming Feb. 17, when most TV stations will cease sending out analog signals of their broadcasts.

If you bought a TV after March 1, 2007, chances are it contains a digital tuner. These newer TVs will be able to pick up the digital signal, so the transition will be seamless. Consumers may notice some of the benefits of digital broadcasting, such as better picture and sound quality and additional channels offered by “multicasting” broadcasters.

If you own an older TV but subscribe to cable or satellite services, the transition may also be seamless. Contact your provider to be sure you won’t need additional equipment.

Consumers who own older TVs that receive signals through antennas or rabbit ears will need to purchase a converter box, which will make any additional channels available, but without the picture and sound quality improvement that owners of better TVs will receive.

Get the full picture

Visit www.DTV.gov to learn more, or call the Fed­eral Communications Com­mission at 1 (888) 225-5322. You may also be eligible to receive two free converter box coupons worth $40 each, depending on availability (and your willingness to await their arrival). Call 1 (888) 388-2009.