FCC Lays Out Digital TV Rules

The FCC on Monday released its final rules for the upcoming switch from analog to digital TV broadcasts, and they give some flexibility to broadcasters. Under the rules, some stations will be allowed to reduce or eliminate their analog broadcasts before the Feb. 17, 2009 deadline.

More than half of U.S. households own at least one digital TV, according to data released last week by the Consumer Electronics Association. People who keep their older analog sets and get their television via over-the-air broadcast won’t be able to receive the digital signal without a special converter box, for which the Commerce Dept. will help pay.

The switch to digital television was mandated by Congress to free up public airwaves for services like police and fire departments and will offer better picture and sound quality. And since the writers’ strike will probably still be going strong by then, digital broadcasts will ensure everyone will get a crisper image of Howie Mandel’s bald pate on Deal or No Deal five nights a week.

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