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Since You Asked: Federal coupons will help you get your digital fix

I have several TVs that will need converter boxes in preparation for the switch to digital broadcasting. Who do I contact to obtain the $40 government coupons being handed out by the feds?

— Rick L., Talent

You are no doubt referring to our Jan. 1 Associated Press article about the $40 coupons Uncle Sam is handing out to help the poor souls who are still watching low-tech TVs purchase converter boxes, Rick.

You can call 888-DTV-2009 or check out www.dtv2009.gov for additional information.

Indeed, the federal government, apparently thanks to us charitable taxpayers, is giving out millions of $40 coupons to make it easier for those taxpayers addicted to TV to make the transition. We're not too sure how the math works on that deal. If you have satellite or cable TV service, you're off the hook. Those set-top boxes will cover your needs. And if you don't watch TV at all, you're far ahead of the pack already.

The converters are expected to cost between $50 and $70. Apparently Uncle Samuel wants us to pay at least part of the fare ourselves.

It's just over a year until television says goodbye to the old technology that gave us Ed Sullivan, Lucy, the Beav and all the rest. Beginning Feb. 18, 2009, anyone who doesn't own a digital set and gets their signal via an antenna will no longer receive a picture, according to the feds. That's the day the TV industry will cease analog broadcasting and enter the fully digital world.

Now if only the quality of the programming would be as sharp as the picture!

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. The volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.