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Farmer Vision Gets A Digital Upgrade


“If you use an antenna to receive over-the-air signals on a TV set with only an analog tuner, you’ll need a digital-to-analog converter box.”

Rural residents who rely on “Farmer Vision,” the three or four television signals that are available without subscribing to cable or satellite, will see changes to how they receive those channels in the future.

A Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC) ruling in 2002 requires broadcasters to change analog transmitters to a digital signal August 31, 2011 as part of an effort to improve signal quality and maximize system capacity. The move is expected to free up more radio wave space for emergency services and cellphones.

It’s part of a worldwide trend to convert to digital signals. Countries such as Finland and Sweden have already made the switch.

The U. S. introduced high-definition (HD) signals last week, which will be followed to a full switch to digital by Feb. 17. To ease the switchover, the U. S. government is providing a $40 gift certificate for the needed converter on TVs that don’t have the built-in digital receiver. Updated television sets have been on the market in recent years, however, so recent purchases are likely already equipped.

The CRTC says the changeover should not be disruptive to the consumer. In fact the change should improve signal quality. But those living near the Canada-U. S. border will have to convert to digital by June 2009 in order to continue receiving American stations.

Canadian consumers with older televisions who depend on Farmer Vision will need a “black box” that will convert the new digital signal back to analog. “If you use an antenna (including outside antennas or ‘rabbit ears’) to receive over-the-air signals on a TV set with only an analog tuner, you’ll need a digital-to-analog converter box,” the CRTC website says. The converter box attaches to the antenna.

Some of the newer DVD players will also convert the new digital signal back to analog for the TV.

It is expected that most, but not all of the rebroadcasting towers will be changed by the 2011 deadline. But the new transmitters will provide coverage that will match and possibly extend the existing areas, while giving Canadians the benefits from the technological advances.

For more information, consumers can check out the CRTC website:

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