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Zenith DTV converter box addresses CBA concerns

Zenith last week began offering a DTV converter box with analog pass-through capability, which addresses concerns raised by low-power, translator and Class A broadcasters that the digital television transition would effectively cut them off from their audiences.

The Zenith DTT901 consumer DTV converter box has a suggested retail price of $59.95, which means the converter effectively will cost households using their $40 government coupon about $20.

The lack of converter boxes with analog receivers or pass-through capability has prompted a variety of steps from the Community Broadcasters Association (CBA) in recent months, ranging the filing of a lawsuit to force the FCC to halt the sale of set top converters without such capability to telling the public to buy a converter now before their coupon expires to be exchanged later for one with analog reception or pass-through.

Nationwide shipment of the new Zenith DTT901 converter box is an encouraging sign to both the CBA and the National Translator Association. The converter box is a means for viewers who will continue to rely on low-power analog as well as full-power digital TV broadcasts after the February full-power TV transition is completed.

"We tested the new Zenith DTT901 in April and find it to be a sound solution for the millions of viewers who require the ability to receive analog as well as digital broadcast signals,” said Greg Herman, CBA vice president of technology.