Fade to black. We’re all familiar with that phrase, and if you have watched any movies or tv shows in your life you’ve seen it: at the end of an episode everything is resolved and the picture fades to black, pauses for a moment, and then the credits roll. On June 12th your TV’s picture might fade to black, and it won’t be because House figured out yet another medical mystery. We’re 30 days away from the deadline of the federally mandated Digital TV Transition on June 12th (see my previous DTV post). That’s when all full power broadcast stations must stop using an analog signal (which they’ve been using since the beginning of television time) and switch to a digital signal.

What’s this mean to you, as a television lover? If all of the TVs in your house are hooked up to Comcast (and really, why wouldn’t they be?) then you’re all set. The DTV Transition will not impact your television viewing, you can continue to watch all your favorite broadcast shows on your analog television sets without a problem. However, if you have additional TVs in your house that use an antenna or if you aren’t a cable or satellite subscriber you’ll need to take some actions to ensure all your TV stations don’t fade to black on June 12th.

There are a couple of ways to make sure you won’t be left without a

signal after June 12:

  1. Get a converter box. The government is issuing $40 coupons for the purchase of a converter box that will enable your old analog TV to receive the new digital signal.

  2. Buy a new TV. Most TVs that are being sold now are equipped with digital tuners. You’ll still need an antenna for this new TV, but it will work on June 12th.

  3. Sign up for Comcast service or another pay TV service. We have created a whole website that lists a number of details about the DTV Transition, as well as the service plans we have available to help ease the transition for folks.

If you’re still not sure if your TVs are ready for the transition, plans are in the works for a national test on May 21st. During the proposed test analog signals would stop being broadcast for a little while. Details aren’t set for this test, but we’ll post more when more details are available.

The government has also set up a Web site called DTV.org that has lots of information about what you need to do. It also has a list of local broadcast stations, based on a zip code you enter, that will be available (and at what strength) after the DTV transition.

Also be sure to check out the DTV Reception Map to estimate how good a signal you can expect to get at your home (reception levels will vary due to a number of factors including: type of antenna, broadcaster signal strength, as well as terrain like tree, tall buildings, etc.).