Are All of the Televisions in the Household DTV-Prepared?

To be DTV-Prepared, ALL televisions in the household must be able to receive digital TV signals in one of three ways:  (1) by cable or satellite TV service; (2) with a digital tuner built into the television; or (3) through a digital-to-analog converter box.   

Determine the Television Sources:  If any television in the household receives TV signals over-the-air using a rabbit ears or rooftop antenna and it doesn’t have a built-in digital tuner – maybe an older television in the kitchen, garage, or spare bedroom that is not connected to cable or satellite – a digital-to-analog converter box will be needed for that television.

Does the Television Have a Built-In Digital Tuner?:  Consumers can determine if a television has a digital tuner by visiting  The brand and model number are required.  Generally, televisions made after March 1, 2007 have built-in digital tuners and televisions made before July 1, 2004 have built-in analog tuners.  The manufacture date and the model number or name are labeled on the back of the television.  Televisions labeled ATSC, HDTV, EDTV, SDTV, Digital Tuner, or HiDef have digital tuners, but televisions labeled NTSC, HD-Ready, Digital-Ready, or Digital Monitor do not have built-in digital tuners.  Another approach is to check the television manual or contact the manufacturer for specific information.

Buying a Digital Television:  A new digital television is not needed to be DTV-Prepared.  However, if a decision is made to buy a new television, be certain that it has a built-in digital tuner.  The least expensive digital televisions have 480p resolution.  It is not necessary to purchase a higher-end HDTV or “high definition” television (HDTV with 720p or 1080p resolution) to view regular digital signals, but HDTV is necessary to view true “high definition” digital broadcasts.

Determine Whether to Add a Cable or Satellite Subscription:  Obtaining a new cable or satellite subscription, or an additional connection for a television that currently uses an antenna, is one means to prepare for the DTV Transition.  For new subscribers, initial sign-up discounts and specials rates may be available.  Comcast, Cox, and Verizon offer cable service in Fairfax County.  Ask the cable or satellite operator to provide a written description of the details of any special promotional offer.  All cable operators offer a lower-priced limited basic package that includes only broadcast network and public, educational, and governmental access channels.  For current subscribers, it may be necessary to pay an additional monthly rental fee for an additional cable set-top box or satellite receiver to view all-digital broadcast channels.  In some cases, additional wiring may also need to be installed.  However, some cable and satellite operators may be willing to waive installation charges or offer equipment without charge for up to one year.  Be sure to ask the operator if any special promotions are available.


More information about the digital television transition is available on the following topics:




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