05.26.2008 08:00 AM
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Community Broadcasters push analog pass-through converter boxes before coupons expire

The Community Broadcasters Association (CBA), the group that represents low-power TV and Class A stations serving rural communities across the country, has partnered with Microprose Systems to help the millions of over-the-air (OTA) television viewers continue to watch analog TV signals after the return of the analog spectrum on Feb. 17, 2009.

Microprose Systems is an engineering and manufacturing company, based in New York City, that makes a converter box with analog pass-through capability. The CBA is working with Microprose Systems to get the company’s MPI-500 DTV converter box into the hands of consumers before their NTIA-provided coupons expire on May 31. (According to the NTIA, more than 13 million DTV converter box coupons have been requested and 11 million sent to consumers since the launch of the program on January 1, 2008.)

The new MPI-500 “PT” series features analog pass-through capability that allows consumers who require a digital converter box to receive digital television programming as well as allowing them to continue receiving their existing analog TV signals from local broadcasters. This analog reception capability will enable senior citizens, the poor, rural areas, and minority and niche audiences across the United States to continue to watch analog signals distributed by CBA member stations.

Under the partnership, over-the-air viewers can log onto an online store, validate their DTV coupons and preorder the Microprose MPI-500 DTV converter box. CBA member stations across the country will help consumers obtain the appropriate converter box for their area.

The CBA, which represents more than 2900 Class A and LPTV stations nationwide, said more than 40 million households risk losing service unless they have cable television, satellite service or a digital-to-analog converter box.

To date, NTIA has certified 82 converter boxes with only 14 having the pass-through capability. The NTIA-approved, MPI-500 DTV converter box with analog pass-through, designed to deliver digital broadcast images on older analog TVs, is available for preordering by going to CBA’s Web site at www.keepuson.com.

For more information and to see a list of supporting vendors, visit www.dtvnow.org. For more information about Microprose Systems, visit www.microprosesystems.com.

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