FCC digital transition

The Federal Communications Commission has approved new rules giving broadcasters more flexibility in making the switch to digital television from traditional analogue signals. The rules will even allow some stations to make a “phased transition” to digital broadcasting; stations will be allowed to reduce or terminate their analogue service before the February 17th, 2009 deadline for the transition “if doing so is necessary to achieve their transition,” the FCC said.

“The rules we adopt in this item attempt to provide broadcasters the flexibility they need while at the same time ensuring that any disruption to over-the-air viewers is minimized to the fullest extent possible,” FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said in a statement.

The government will subsidize the cost of buying an STB converter box by offering $40 discount coupons to anyone who owns an analogue television set. The converter boxes are expected to cost between $50 and $70 and will be available at most major electronics retail stores. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is accepting requests for two $40 coupons per household to be used toward the purchase of the boxes.

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