Contact: Julie Willmot
(609) 278-7137

TRENTON, N.J. - On Feb. 17, 2009, television stations, by law, will stop transmitting their analog signal and will transmit only their digital signal. The digital signal will bring a dramatically clearer picture and better sound quality to the television viewer. Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes is outlining what the switch means for television owners, offering tips to make the switch, and telling Mercer County residents how to safely dispose of obsolete televisions.

"Television as we know it is about to change,'' said Hughes. "And while the benefits of this new technology are fairly remarkable, many households are at risk of losing television reception. I encourage people - especially our older citizens - to not be fearful of this change, and follow the steps outlined to receive the digital signal."

How will you be affected by the changeover? Most television viewers who subscribe to cable, satellite or telephone company television service providers will be unaffected by the changeover, and their TVs will work just fine. But subscribers with analog televisions will need a converter box to translate the digital signal to analog so the television can display the programming.

The federal government is offering to help defray the cost toward a digital converter box, and DVT converter boxes will be available early this year. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will be issuing up to two converter box coupons valued at $40 each. Information about the DTV converter box coupon program is available at www.ntia.doc.gov. The digital converter box converts digital signals to analog for older televisions. If you simply watch "rabbit ears" or free, over-the-air broadcast television, you will lose your television programming after the changeover date of Feb. 17, 2009.

To Prepare for the Changeover You Can:

  • Keep your analog TV and purchase a digital television (DTV) conversion box. (You may still need an antenna.)
  • Purchase a digital television (DTV) conversion box to convert your cable, satellite or telephone company television service provider's signal for your analog television.
  • Purchase a digital television with a built-in tuner. If you currently have an antenna for your analog television, you may still need one for your digital, over-the-air television.

The good news is that no one has to run out and purchase a new television set, said Hughes, but the reality is that many television watchers will take this opportunity to upgrade to a new high-definition (HD) television, which will allow viewers to actually see the benefits of the new digital broadcasts.

"Consequently," said Hughes, "we expect to have an up tick in the number of TVs headed for the trash. In answer to that, beginning last year I called for more electronic waste disposal days for Mercer County residents. Televisions contain metals and other potentially dangerous materials, and disposing them in a responsible and environmentally safe manner is crucial. Mercer County and the Mercer County Improvement Authority plan on making those disposal efforts as simple as possible."

Recycle Dates:

Household Chemical and Electronic Waste Days
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
All HHW events are held at the John T. Dempster Fire School, Lawrence Station Road, Lawrence.

Electronic Waste (only) Disposal Days
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
E-waste disposal days are held at the Sovereign Bank Arena - Lot I - Trenton.

Fast Facts:

  • Nationwide changeover takes place Feb. 17, 2009.
  • Digital television (DTV) is innovative new of over-the-air broadcasting technology; Analog is the standard technology used since the inception of television.
  • DTV Enables TV stations to provide clearer pictures and better sound quality.
  • DTV is more efficient and more flexible than analog. For example, DTV makes it possible for stations to broadcast multiple channels of free programming simultaneously (called multicasting), instead of broadcasting only one channel at a time.
  • DTV technology can also be used to provide future interactive video and data services that are not possible with analog technology.
  • Analog is susceptible to interference and "snow" that make a picture less clear
  • If you currently receive free over-the-air television programming on an analog television set, you will need a DTV converter box to continue to receive television service after Feb. 17, 2009.
  • DTV converter boxes will be available in early 2008.
  • Information about the DTV converter box coupon program is available at www.ntia.doc.gov.