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1. What is a television translator or low-power television station?

A TV translator station rebroadcasts the programs of a full-power TV broadcast station. Translator stations typically serve communities that cannot receive the signals of free over-the-air TV stations because they are too far away from a full-power TV station or because of geography (such as uneven terrain or mountains). Many translator stations operate in mountainous or more remote areas of the country.

Low-power television (LPTV) stations usually provide a locally-oriented or specialized television service in the communities they serve. These communities may be in rural areas or may be individual communities within larger urban areas. 

2. How do I know if I am watching a translator or low-power station?

If you are watching a full-power station (such as channel 13) but tune your TV to another channel (such as channel 23) to receive it, you are watching a translator.  A translator also has its channel number in the middle of its call letters (such as K37ZZ). 

An LPTV station identifies itself on-the-air with the name of its community of license.  The call letters of low-power stations usually end in -CA or -LP (for example, WUYX-CA,  KQTY-LP), although sometimes the call letters are in the same format as a translator station (such as W37AA). 

3. Will translators and low-power stations convert to digital by February 17, 2009?

Currently there is no requirement for translators and low-power stations to convert to digital.  While some LPTV and translator stations will convert to digital by February 17, 2009, others will transition after February 2009, and many will continue to broadcast in analog until required to change by the FCC. 

4. How can I find a list of translators and low-power stations in my area?

Click here for a listing of the translators and low-power stations in your state.

5. How can I find out when my local translator or low-power station will broadcast in digital?

LPTV stations broadcast a locally-oriented program service, and many will be notifying viewers of their digital conversion plans.

Because translators rebroadcast the programming of a full-service station, they will broadcast many messages regarding the conversion of the full-power station.  These messages may be confusing to viewers if the translator does not also plan to convert to digital by February 17, 2009.

Check information sources in your local community regarding the digital conversion plans of the translators and/or low-power stations you watch.  NTIA will work with translators and LPTV stations to help them inform the public of their digital conversion plans through local newspapers and other media, civic organizations, schools and community groups.

6. How can I continue to watch analog translators and LPTV stations after February 17, 2009?

Review the following options and determine which is best for your household:

A.   Keep an analog TV connected to an antenna to view an analog station.

B.   Purchase a digital-to-analog converter box which has analog pass-through capability.  For an updated listing of coupon eligible approved converters with analog pass-through, click here and look for the boxes with the asterisk (*).

Analog pass-through allows you to watch analog television stations as well as digital television through the converter box.   

C.   Purchase a digital-to-analog converter box without analog pass-through, and then add a splitter or A/B switch to receive both analog and digital signals. 

D.   Purchase a digital television set.  All new television sets on the market can receive both analog and digital stations.

E    Subscribe to a local cable television or other pay service which carries the analog station, if any.

Since many translators and low-power stations will convert to digital after February 17, 2009, you may want to consider applying for TV converter box coupons between now and March 31, 2009, because after that date, coupons will no longer be available.

7.    Which converter boxes have analog pass-through?

For an updated listing of coupon eligible approved converters with analog pass-through, click here and look for the boxes with the asterisk (*).
8.    How do I use a converter box with analog pass-though?

You should consult your converter box’s instruction manual to determine how to connect the box for viewing analog stations.      

9.    Will I need a special antenna to receive analog stations?

You should be able to continue to receive analog stations with your existing antenna.  However, because many digital stations will change their broadcast channel (for example, from Ch. 5 to Ch. 25), you may need a new antenna to receive some digital stations.

If you need a new antenna, the following Consumer Electronics Association website provides information to help you choose an antenna to receive the stations you want: www.antennaweb.org
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