Joel Topcik: Hi, I am Joel Topcik from Broadcasting & Cable magazine. We are talking about the digital TV transition. What happens if you are a cable or a satellite TV subscriber? How will the transition affect you? Let's find out from Rob Stoddard of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.
Rob Stoddard: The digital TV transition is very important to us because we are really the primary provider of multichannel video television to American households. More than 65 million American households subscribe to cable.
Host: What do cable customers need to do to prepare for the digital TV transition?
Rob Stoddard:The great news is that for cable customers that have all of their TV sets wired to cable, hooked up to cable, they really don't have to do anything. Their cable operator by and large, is going to take care of the digital TV transition for them.
Host: Does the digital TV transition affect satellite customers differently than cable customers?
Rob Stoddard: In general terms, we tell consumers that if their TVs are hooked up to cable service or satellite service that will be fine during the course of the digital transition. Their multichannel video provider will take of the transition for them and its true. Both cable operators and satellite providers in most major markets around the country are providing a full slate of over-the-air broadcast television to their customers.
Host: Can I still watch cable TV through my older analog TV set?
Rob Stoddard: Yes, any TV set that's hooked up to cable through the course of the transition if going to be fine. The cable operator itself will deal with the new digital signal that are coming from full-power television stations and will convert them so that even cable customers that are watching cable TV on analog TV set will be able to continue to see the full-power of broadcast television.
Host: What if people have some TVs in their home hooked up to cable, but not all of them?
Rob Stoddard: In many cable households, there are going to be some TV sets in which viewers are still watching television over the year instead of being hooked up to cable. In those cases, just as anybody in an over-the-air household would have to, they are going to have to take a look at what their options are and make a decision about whether they want to attach that television set to their cable system, whether they want to obtain a converter box in order to convert the digital signal back to analog or whether they want to go out and essentially trade in that analog TV set on a new a Digital TV set.
Host: Can I still watch the broadcast channels without a cable set top box?
Rob Stoddard: In many households across the United States cable subscribers are currently watching cable television without a cable set top box. Those customers typically are not digital cable customers. They are watching an expanded basic of cable television, but it's coming from the Coaxial wire right into the back of the TV set. In those instances, people can still continue to see broadcast signals without a cable set top box.