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Most won't feel change to digital TV
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Gov. Sonny Perdue started urging people last month in a press release to prepare now for the upcoming switch to all digital broadcast television, but Comcast cable, the area's only cable provider, said there’s no need for its clients to worry.
"To put it as easy as possible, our customers will see no difference if they have cable or with one of our converters," Michael Daves, Comcast general manager, said.
The company has already taken care of the necessary changes for its current customers when the TV stations, such as PBS, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox, go digital Feb. 17 of next year.
"We constantly have phone calls come into our call center," Daves said.
He thinks the key is keeping everyone informed and making sure they understand.
Only those without cable or satellite service and those receiving TV stations by antenna on older model sets need to prepare for the transition.
"There is a risk waiting until February," Daves said. "They need to be planning ahead to make sure their set (is prepared)."
They will need to either subscribe with a cable provider or purchase a TV set with a built-in digital receiver. If they decide to keep their old sets, they will need to purchase a digital-to-analog converter box, ranging $40-$70.
The National Telecommunications and Information Association is offering online coupons to help offset costs but coupons are limited to two per household.
Converter boxes are also available at several retail stores. The local Wal-Mart sells them for $49.87.
But the cable company does not have them.
Converter box coupons will be available through March 31 or until the 22 million run out.
If someone is not sure if their TV is analog, Daves encourages them to verify to be on the safe side.
"I think it's going to be important for them to check with their TV manufacturers," he said.
There are Comcast cable subscribers who still have 15 or 20-year old TV sets, according to Daves, but as long as they have a cable service they will be taken care of.
When the country makes the switch next year, Daves said there really won't be a difference in how stations appear on the screens, but would make the biggest difference to those who did not have access to certain stations in the past.
"It's going to make customers look at content that wasn't available to them before," Daves said. "It opens their eyes more options that be available to them."
Both he and Perdue want people to avoid any scramble by not waiting for last minute to make any necessary changes.
"An estimated 300, households in Georgia will be affected by the transition from analog to digital television, and we want to make sure each of these households is fully prepared," Perdue said.
Congress decided to make the digital TV switch to help free up the space for emergency responders.
For more information or purchase a digital converter box, visit or call 1-888-DTV-2009.

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