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Last Day to Apply for DTV Converter Box Coupons July 31

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Now that the switch to digital television has been made, the federal government is preparing to end its coupon program which was created to offset the cost of DTV converter boxes. KSMU’s Matt Evans has more.

On June 12th, this is the sound some Americans heard coming from their television sets. The static was caused when television stations switched from analog signal to digital signal and some people weren’t prepared for it. Arlen Diamond, the director of broadcast services at Missouri State University, says there are several ways people can receive the new digital signal if they have an older analog TV.

“One is to buy a new TV, that’s relatively expensive. Buy a converter box, those are relatively inexpensive. Or signing up for cable or satellite TV service, those are also relatively expensive.”

A DTV converter box picks up a digital TV signal and converts it to analog so it can be used by an analog TV set. Until July 31st, the federal government is offering coupons to help consumers buy a converter box. Diamond says that the coupons are worth $40 and the converter boxes cost an average of $50.

To apply for the coupons, you can visit www.dtv2009.gov. The boxes themselves are available at many local retailers.

In 2005, Congress decided to require all TV stations to broadcast in a purely digital format because the digital TV spectrum is much more efficient and is easier to manage. Stations had to make the switch before June 12th of this year.

For KSMU News, I’m Matt Evans.