Can't Pick Up Your Local TV Stations Anymore?

The Digital Television Transition has begun...Where have YOU been?

Friday, June 12, 2009 - 10:03pm

If you were one of the few folks who sat down to watch TV today but couldn't get your "Rabbit Ears" to pick up anything but static...then you must have had the volume of your TV set muted for the past 3 years! Television stations across the country began shutting down their old analog signals on Thursday night at midnight, and every single Full Power station in the country will complete the switch by the end of Friday, June 12th. After that, stations will only broadcast in digital and anyone with just the old rabbit ears or external antennas is out of luck. The original Feb. 17 deadline for the shutdown was delayed by the Obama administration after funding ran out for $40 coupons the government offered to help people buy converter boxes for old TVs. Now officials say the country is much better prepared than in February, though they still expect some viewers to be confused. Here's a quick checklist to make sure you'll have TV reception after analog broadcasts end Friday: — Are all your TVs hooked up to cable or a satellite dish? If so, you're OK. — Do all your TVs have built-in digital tuners? Most TVs bought in the last few years, including flat panels, have these. If they do, you're probably OK. But you'll need to force your TV to scan the airwaves to find all channels, because some are moving to new frequencies. — Do you have an older TV without a digital tuner? You'll need a converter box. — Do you have digital converter boxes hooked up to older TVs, and you get some but not all the channels you expect? You should force the box to re-scan the airwaves. Some converter boxes don't scan well, so you may have to key in the channel number manually. Check the box's directions, and look at to figure out which channels should be available in your area. Re-scan periodically to pick up stations that move frequencies after Friday. — Still having problems getting all the stations you want? The problem may be your antenna. Outdoor antennas properly pointed toward a TV tower are preferable, but indoor antennas work if you're reasonably close to the tower. Antennas should be capable of receiving both VHF and UHF signals — some older ones are VHF-only, and some sold specifically for digital television are UHF-only. Modern indoor antennas are available from $40 to $100. — For phone help, call the Federal Communications Commission's toll-free hotline at 1-888-225-5322 (1-888-CALL FCC). On the Web, check the FCC's troubleshooting guide, or visit