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No digital converter needed with cable

I watched a program on television last week explaining the switch to digital television. They said if you were hooked to cable that nothing would change. Now I hear word that our local cable company is going to require that everyone hooked to their service to have a converter box (even if you have a newer digital equipped television) as they are going to scramble the new digital signals. Likewise they are going to charge a monthly fee for the box. Is this true?

— Scott Van Horn, Medford

Unless you're using rabbit ears, Scott, you won't need a converter box once analog signals switch to digital on Feb. 17, say representatives from Charter Communications and Ashland Fiber Network. Those who do need a digital-to-analog set-top converter box will have to pay about $60 to buy one. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration was offering $40 coupons, but it has reached its funding limit and there is now a waiting list for expired coupons as they become available. To get on the list, go to www.DTV2009.gov.

Both Charter and AFN say there will be no additional cost on your monthly bill for using a converter box.

If you have a television with a digital tuner or coaxial cable and subscribe to a TV service, you will not need the box, and your cable or satellite service should continue as usual. Only if you rely on antennas to receive analog broadcast signals and are not connected to a cable or satellite TV service will you need to purchase a separate converter box, available at local electronic stores.