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Jun-11-2009 10:49printcomments

Keeping a Clear Picture for the DTV Switch Friday

Unfortunately, local retailers have mostly been selling boxes in the $60 to $100 range, while the government coupons, still available for free, amount to a $40 savings on the cost of the box.

DTV switchover
Image courtesy: City of Bellflower, California.

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - For one of America's favorite pastimes, the digital age starts this Friday. It's the official day for the switch to digital television signals or "DTV," and it means Oregonians accustomed to watching free, over-the-air programs on older television sets need to have a digital converter box hooked up - or all they'll see is snow on the screen.

Jonathan Lawson, executive director of the Northwest-based advocacy group Reclaim the Media, says television stations have been doing a good job explaining that the change is near. However, the people who depend on older-model sets with the "rabbit-ear" style antennas also happen to be the viewers least likely to know about switch. Some, he adds, can't afford the change.

"Free TV is a lifeline of public safety information and local news for a lot of people. That's more true for low-income folks, for seniors and for immigrants, than it is for any other group."

Lawson says Congress authorized the digital TV coupons in an effort to keep television access free, even after the conversion. While there are plenty of online sites where you can get a converter box for the value of the coupon, he warns that finding a box at a local electronics store at the coupon value is not so easy.

"The government coupons, still available for free, will provide $40 off the cost of the box - but, unfortunately, local retailers have mostly been selling boxes in the $60 to $100 range."

In Oregon, there are DTV information events and clinics this week in Eugene, Florence, North Bend and Roseburg. Get the details online, at

On the same Web site, you can also see instructions for hooking up a digital converter box and read answers to frequently asked questions about the switch to DTV.

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Daniel June 12, 2009 1:43 pm (Pacific time)

I pulled the plug on the cable 9 years ago , i can not pick up anything over the air , i am too far from the transmitters . I have missed nothing but bs , brain wash and violent crap , with lots of commercials in between . The internet provides all the news and info i need . For entertainment i buy or rent movies , watch youtube , read , listen to music or converse with family and friends . The less mind robbing tv in your life the better . Sick of all the hype and mind numbing garbage TURN IT OFF . Now i do not expect every body to withdraw from TV and actually start interacting with family and friends instead , that is too much of a fantasy .

Jen June 11, 2009 4:06 pm (Pacific time)

Our family also has had very disapointing results in getting signal, and we can't afford cable, so we are just stuck. We have also tried several different antennas with no improvement. We find ourselves using our computer for our tv mostly now.

myexperience June 11, 2009 11:16 am (Pacific time)

I tried to switch over. The box cost $10 at Best Buy after the discount. I also bought a "rabbit ears" type antenna for $10. I live on a hill in Salem so I expected good reception. Much to my surprise, most of what I got was bizarre digital manifestations. After trying different antenna postions, I eventually gave up and returned the equipment (after calling the store and being told that my experience was far from unique). I am now resigned to continue payments to Comcast.

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