Test Your Digital Rediness

December 17, 2008|By CHRIS KALTENBACH

The digital TV revolution is almost here, and Baltimore-area viewers will have the chance tonight to find out just how prepared they are.

At 5:45 p.m., all of Maryland's broadcast stations - that is, those that can be received without a cable or satellite connection - will conduct a one-minute test that will enable viewers to see if their sets are digital-friendly. As of Feb. 17, traditional analog TV broadcasts will cease, and programming will be available only on sets able to accept digital transmissions.

The test, which has been heavily promoted on local stations for weeks, will feature uninterrupted programming on digital-friendly sets. Sets not able to accept the digital signal will display a message telling viewers they need to be upgraded.

Similar tests have been done in Las Vegas and Orlando, Fla,., said Jordan Wertlieb, president and general manager of WBAL, Channel 11, and have been "extremely helpful" in alerting people whose sets could become obsolete after Feb. 17.

"We've been talking about this for over a year," Wertlieb said. "This is actually going to be a show-and-tell demonstration."

Television sets connected to cable or satellite systems will not be affected by the digital conversion. Most newer sets have been manufactured to accept the digital signal. Analog-only sets can receive the digital signal if attached to a converter box. Boxes may be purchased at many area electronics and department stores for $40 to $70. Government-issued coupons good for a $40 discount on those boxes are available through www.dtv2009.gov or 1-888-DTV-2009.

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