Iowa Public Television

Monday, January 14, 2008

Updated: Upcoming DTV Information Sessions

Throughout the next year, Iowa Public Television's DTV experts will be traveling the state to conduct free information and Q&A sessions about Digital Television. The list will be updated frequently, so check back often. Updated August 15, 2008

And remember - if you'd like an Iowa Public Television staff person to speak to your community or civic group, please let us know! Contact Jennifer at 800-532-1290 or at to schedule a session in your community!

Upcoming Free Digital Television Information Sessions

  • Burlington Public Library - Monday, August 18 at 6 p.m.
  • Davenport Public Library - Fairmont St. Branch - Tuesday, August 19 at 6:30 p.m.
  • West Des Moines United Methodist Church - Friday, September 12 at 11:30 a.m.
  • Johnston Evangelical Free Church - Thursday, September 18 at 7 p.m.
  • Greater Des Moines Volkssport Association - Monday, November 17 at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The DTV Converter

Greetings from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. IPTV recently started airing some information announcement regarding the federal coupon program for the purchase of set-top DTV converter boxes. Since the program is currently taking coupon orders I have come here to look for the boxes to get an idea on what the consumer will be buying. My first stop was at the LG Electronics booth which was showing dozens of different HD televisions. After unsuccessfully searching for converter I found someone to ask. I was taken to a back room in the LG booth and there was an actual converter. The picture here shows the Zenith DTT900. When I saw the converter I was not able to actually see it in operation because it was not hooked to a television set or an antenna. I did get to look over the physical box. It is quite small, probably less than 10 inches wide and less than 8 inches deep. The back has one antenna input for a digital off-air receive antenna and an analog antenna output that would be hooked to the television. There are also a video and stereo audio outputs for hooking to the video and audio input of a television set. I am told it has a remote control but that was not present however, LG has agreed to send me one of the boxes for testing and evaluation so I will have more information after I receive it and try it out. I can tell you that according to LG, it will sell for $59.95.

I next went to visit Samsung to see the box that they will be shipping. After another unsuccessful search of the booth I again found someone to ask about the converter. I was told that they have a box in design but it was not at the show. I later heard from some fairly reliable people that the Samsung box actually failed to meet the requirements of the NTIA program and that they have subsequently pulled it from out of the program I was unable to confirm that information but I will try again.

The third and final place I stopped was at the Echostar booth where they were showing the TR-40 digital-to-analog converter. This is another NTIA coupon eligible product and was similar in size to the Zenith unit. The biggest difference in this device was the price. The price of this box will be $39.95 which is $20.00 cheaper than the Zenith unit and perhaps more importantly means that it will be free with an NTIA coupon. I was unable to get much more information or arrange for a unit to be sent to me for evaluation but I will contact them again to try and arrange for a unit.

So, although the boxes are not yet available to the consumer, they will be available soon and as soon as I have had a chance to try them out, I'll post the result.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Digital Converter Box Information

In February of 2009, all television stations will cease broadcasting their analog television service and rely exclusively on their digital television (DTV) services. What this means to viewers will vary depending on how they receive their television service. Viewers that subscribe to either cable or satellite services will not see a loss of service as both cable and satellite providers have already stated that they will substitute a station’s primary DTV service for the station’s analog channel on the cable or satellite system. However, viewers that rely on over-the-air reception via a conventional antenna will have to take some proactive steps to ensure that they will receive service after the end of analog television.

In order to ensure that no one is disenfranchised by the federally mandated DTV conversion, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has commission the manufacture of set-top converter boxes that will receive an over-the-air DTV signal and convert them to analog signals for display on existing analog television. As part of the project, the NTIA is also administering a coupon program that will allow individual homes to receive up to two $40.00 coupons for the purchase of these converter boxes.

The coupons are only available to private residences and although each residence can receive two, each coupon must be used independently toward the purchase of only approved converter boxes. In short, you cannot combine them for $80.00 off a single box and you can only use them toward the purchase of the approved converter boxes. For more information and to sign up for coupons, visit or call 1-888-DTV-2009.