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MEMA Home > Programs> Communication> News > Digital TV Conversion is Coming

Digital TV Conversion is Coming


March 11, 2008


On February 17, 2009, all television stations are required to stop broadcasting in analog and broadcast in digital only. This is known as the digital television (DTV) transition. This change could impact 87,000 Maine households – almost 16% of the state -- that rely on only over-the-air TV signals for their news, weather and emergency information. According to the Maine Association of Broadcasters, the households affected are more likely to be low-income, elderly or rural. Those households with analog TVs that receive broadcast TV signals via an antenna will not receive television signals after the transition, unless they take action.

Why are television stations switching signals? All-digital broadcasting will give needed communications channels to police, fire and emergency rescue personnel. It will also allow for new wireless services for consumers. In addition, since digital is more efficient than analog, it allows stations to broadcast several programs at the same time, instead of just one program with analog. This means broadcasters can offer consumers more choices. Digital also allows broadcasters to offer improved picture and sound quality, including high definition (HDTV) programming.

The Maine Association of Broadcasters offers the following pointers for consumers:

  1. The end of analog broadcasting does not mean that you must purchase a new TV. If you currently receive over-the-air programming on an analog television, either through “rabbit ears” on your set or an antenna on your roof, you will only need a digital-to-analog converter box to continue watching broadcast television on that set after February 17, 2009. These boxes will cost approximately $40 to $70, and are beginning to appear on store shelves throughout Maine.

  2. To help defray the cost of digital-to-analog converter boxes, each household may request up to two coupons, worth $40 each, to be used toward the purchase of eligible boxes. For more information on the coupon program visit or call 1-888-DTV-2009.

  3. If you watch over-the-air programming on a digital TV, you will not need a digital-to-analog converter box. Also, the antenna you use to receive analog broadcasts should work for receiving digital broadcasts, both on a digital TV and on an analog TV connected to a digital-to-analog converter box.

  4. If you subscribe to cable or satellite TV, you will not need a digital-to-analog converter box, and the TVs connected to your paid service will continue to receive local broadcast programming (but note that satellite TV services do not deliver local broadcast signals in all areas of Maine). However, you should check with your pay TV providers to see if you will need any additional equipment in the future. Remember, those analog TVs not connected to the satellite or cable service will require a converter.

The Maine Association of Broadcasters (MAB) has created a coalition of partners, including senior advocacy groups, social service organizations, state broadcasters, emergency managers and public safety agencies to spread the word about the transition. For more information, visit MAB online at



Maine Association of Broadcasters
623-3870 / 800-664-6221


Last update: 07/20/10