Digital TV Transition

Last Updated: January 29, 2009


Local TV broadcast stations, received using a rooftop or rabbit ears antenna, are moving from an analog to a digital signal. The U.S. government established February 17, 2009 as the deadline for all broadcast stations to convert to digital signals and terminate their analog signals. After this deadline, broadcast TV stations will stop transmitting using analog technology, and will start transmitting using a digital signal.

There were several reasons why the Federal government made this change. They needed to free up the analog signal capacity to make it available to first-responders, such as local police and fire departments. Another reason for the change to a digital broadcast is to enable TV stations to improve sound and picture quality, to be able to transmit high-definition TV (HDTV) signals, and to provide more broadcast channels. High Definition Televisions (HDTVs) are not required to receive the digital signal. Standard digital televisions or analog televisions with a converter box are required.

Televisions that are only connected to a video cassette recorder/player (VCR) or DVD player and not receiving broadcast channels will continue to function and are unaffected. This covers the majority of LAUSD schools. Schools that subscribe to cable or satellite (such as Time Warner, Cox, Charter, DISH, and DirectTV) may also not be affected, because the signal may already be converted under their current agreement with the provider.

In order to prepare for the transition, the appropriate staff at schools and offices should:

  1. Determine the location of their TV sets.
  2. Determine the type of connection for each TV:
    1. How many TVs are only connected to DVD or VCR player?
    2. How many TVs are receiving broadcasting from a paid cable or satellite service (such as Time Warner, Cox, Charter, DISH, and DirectTV)?
    3. How many TVs are receiving over-the-air broadcasting from either a roof-top antenna or rabbit ear antenna?
  3. Use the following table as a guide:
Situation:TVs that are only connected to DVD or VCR player.
Solution:No action required. These TVs will continue to function normally and are unaffected by the DTV transition.
Situation:I have TVs that are receiving broadcasting from a paid cable or satellite service (such as Time Warner, Cox, Charter, DISH, and DirectTV).
Solution:Verify with the customer service department of the paid cable or satellite service provider whether any change is required to continue receiving channels.
Situation:I have TV's that are receiving broadcasting from a rooftop or rabbit ears antenna.
Solution:These TVs will each require a converter box or will need to be replaced with digital TVs.

The Federal Government has a coupon program that provides up to $40 for the purchase of the digital converter boxes. This program is only available to residents at this time. Residents that request coupons can donate them (they may not sell them for any price) to schools. Each resident is eligible to receive two coupons.

Additional Information:


MEM-4623 (January 23, 2009) Digital TV Transition

Federal Communications Commission DTV transition website

Cable in the Classroom website

ITD Helpdesk