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KET Digital Guide

Digital TV FAQ

Frequently asked questions about digital television:

What is digital television (DTV)?

The switch to digital television (DTV) will let you enjoy a dramatically clearer picture, better sound quality, and more programming choices.

DTV is more efficient and flexible than the traditional broadcast technology known as analog. Since television came into being, stations have broadcast programs using an analog signal, where subtle changes in the waveform define the image and sound. With digital television, the signal is broadcast as “bits and bytes,” the same as computers use. That means DTV can deliver high-definition pictures, surround-sound audio, and several channels all at the same time.

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What is the DTV transition, and when is it happening?

The DTV transition refers to the nation’s move from analog to digital television technology. On June 12, 2009, all TV broadcasters stopped broadcasting their analog signals and began exclusively broadcasting digital television signals.

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Why is the DTV transition happening?

DTV is a more flexible and efficient technology than the current analog system. The switch to digital broadcasting will enable television stations to offer crystal-clear pictures and sound, more channels, and even free, over-the-air high-definition television (HDTV) for viewers with HD television sets.

Since digital television is more efficient than analog television, switching to digital-only broadcasting will free up a wide range of broadcast frequencies to be used by commercial communications companies and by public safety entities such as police, fire, and emergency responders.

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Will my TV still work?

Yes, but it may need an upgrade. See What do I need to do? to learn how you can upgrade to receive digital TV.

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Can I still receive free TV?

Yes, you can still receive free television over the air with an antenna, just as you do now, as long as your TV either has a digital tuner or is connected to a converter box.

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What do I need to do in order to receive digital TV?

You may not need to do anything at all. If you subscribe to a cable, satellite, or other pay television service, or if you have a digital television set with a digital tuner and antenna, your service will continue uninterrupted.

If you have one or more analog TVs hooked up to an antenna, you have several options to continue to receive free, over-the-air television on your current TV:

  • Purchase a digital TV converter box.

    A digital-to-analog TV converter box plugs into an existing television, allowing you to receive digital signals free over the air. (Please note that location, antenna, and antenna placement can be factors in digital signal reception. See Do I need an antenna? for more information.)

    Many boxes cost between $40 and $60 and are available at most electronics retailers. Once connected, your TV will receive free, over-the-air programs via digital broadcast. U.S. households can request up to two coupons valued at $40 each to help defray the cost of boxes. However, there is now a waiting list for the coupons. Coupon requests will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis as funds from unused expired coupons become available. (Get on the coupon waiting list »)

  • Purchase a new television set with a built-in digital tuner.

    Any new television purchased today comes with a built-in digital over-the-air tuner. Plug it in to an antenna, and you’ll receive free digital TV over the air.

  • Subscribe to a cable, satellite, or other pay television service provider.

    Some cable or satellite providers offer only KET, and others offer some or all of KET’s channels. Please check with the providers in your area to see which KET channels they offer.

    The bottom line? An old television connected to an antenna will still work, with a converter box. And any television will work if you have cable or satellite service.

    With digital television, you’ll receive better pictures and sound and more channels, including KET’s digital broadcast services: KET, KET2, and KET KY,. (More about KET’s digital broadcast services »)

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What is a digital TV converter box?

A digital TV converter box is an electronic device that converts digital TV signals to analog, making digital television viewable on an analog TV. This device allows people to keep free, over-the-air television service using older TVs. Digital TV converter boxes are available at many major electronics retailers. The cost is between $40 and $60. The federal government is also issuing coupons to help defray the cost; however, there is now a waiting list and coupons will be issued as funds become available. Visit for details.

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How do I get coupons for digital TV converter boxes?

Each U.S. household can apply for up to two coupons, worth $40 each, toward the purchase of up to two digital-to-analog converter boxes. There is now a waiting list for the coupons. Coupon requests will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis as funds from unused expired coupons become available. The coupons must be redeemed within three months of receipt. For more information about the converter box coupon program, call 1-888-DTV-2009 or visit

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Do I need an antenna to receive over-the-air digital TV signals?

Yes. Any antenna that works well for receiving analog TV signals should receive over-the-air digital TV signals.

Even though you can use your current antenna, it might not perform the same in the digital world. When an analog television signal is weak or experiences interference, you will typically see a “snowy” picture or “ghosting.” If a digital signal is weak or contains interference, you’ll likely see no picture at all.

Several factors, including how far you live from the TV station’s transmitter, the direction your antenna is facing, the type of terrain between your antenna and the transmitter, buildings, trees, and the transmission path, all contribute to the reliability of the over-the-air digital television signals you receive.

There are several things you can do, though, to improve how well your television antenna is receiving digital signals.

First, make sure you are receiving the best possible analog signal with your current antenna placement. Try to eliminate as much ghosting as possible. If, after hooking up your digital converter box, you do not see all the digital signals you expect to, experiment again with the analog signals by re-pointing your antenna in a different direction, moving it up higher, or relocating it.

You may need to upgrade your antenna system to something better able to provide a strong and clear signal. Manufacturers also make powered, amplified antennas that may do a better job of receiving signals.

Excellent online sources of information on antenna selection are and

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How do I know if my TV set has a built-in digital tuner?

The best way to determine whether your TV has a built-in digital tuner is to consult your owner’s manual. You may also be able to find information about your TV set on the manufacturer’s web site. Some TVs with digital tuners have labels containing the words “integrated digital tuner,” “digital receiver,” “digital tuner,” “DTV,” “ATSC,” or “HDTV.” If your set is labeled “digital monitor,” “HDTV monitor,” “digital-ready,” or “HDTV-ready,” that does not necessarily mean it has a built-in digital tuner.

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What if I do nothing?

If you do not have a television with a built-in digital tuner or a digital TV converter box, your television will not receive free, over-the-air signals after June 12, 2009.

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What are KET’s digital television channels?

KET The primary broadcast service of KET, airing in high definition. Features:
  • Locally produced Kentucky cultural and public information programs
  • Prime-time programming from PBS
  • Commercial-free PBS Kids series
  • How-to and adult education programs
  • GED programs for adult learners
  • programs produced by independent Kentucky filmmakers
KET2 Airs 24/7 in standard definition. Features:
  • An extensive line-up of How-to programming
  • Popular programming from PBS
  • Trusted series from PBS Kids
  • Encores of KET-produced programs about Kentucky
KETKY The Kentucky Channel airs 24/7 in standard definition. Features:
  • Programs about Kentucky people, places, arts and culture, history, and issues
  • KET ED block feeds of K-12 instructional programs, Monday-Friday from 1 am/12 midnight CT to 5/4 am CT

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What are the benefits of KET’s digital services?

KET offers more channels and more choices. Benefits include:

  • Multicasting: KET broadcasts three full-time digital services: KET in high definition (where available), KET2, and KET KY. For example, if you receive KET on over-the-air channel 25, your digital tuner will allow you to choose 25-1 (KET), 25-2 (KET2), 25-3 (KET KY).
  • Datacasting: KET DataCast sends large amounts of data—including text, graphics, maps, photos, and video—across the state. For example, National Weather Service information and emergency alerts, treatment information, and coordinated security information are being sent to 911 dispatchers, municipal utilities, and public health departments statewide.

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What is multicasting?

Because digital signals are more efficient than analog signals, a station can broadcast more channels in its allotted bandwidth than was possible with an analog signal. This enables KET to offer more and better choices to viewers and educators. (For definitions of other DTV-related terms, please see our glossary.)

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What is the difference between DTV and HDTV?

HDTV (high-definition television) is the highest-quality format of DTV (digital television), providing the best possible picture and sound.

However, the superior picture and sound of HD (high-definition) programs can only be experienced on a high-definition TV set. HD cannot be fully utilized with older analog televisions.

Although all digital signals provide a picture free of some of the problems inherent in analog broadcast (static and ghosting), HD is defined as a digital signal that is of relatively high resolution—technically at least 720 lines of vertical resolution. Only newer TVs labeled HDTV are capable of fully displaying this higher resolution. (For definitions of other DTV-related terms, please see our glossary.)

If you have purchased a DTV converter box, it will receive the HDTV channels currently being broadcast and convert them to a lower resolution so that they can be displayed on your older analog TV.

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What is datacasting?

Digital broadcasting allows for the transmission not only of digital sound and images, but also of digital data—text, graphics, maps, and more. KET DataCast broadcasts emergency weather, health, and safety information to law enforcement agencies and other emergency responders across the state. KET DataCast also serves as the backbone for transmitting messages to electronic highway traffic signs and travel kiosks, providing the public with vital information about road conditions and weather. See our KET DataCast page for more information.

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Can I receive KET digital services from my cable company?

KET has made all of our digital television services available to cable companies in Kentucky. Cable carriage depends on decisions made by individual cable companies. Insight Communications and Time Warner carry all of KET’s digital channels in their digital programming tiers.

Contact your cable company to find out which KET services are offered via cable in your area, the equipment you may need, and the fees associated with digital cable services.

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Can I receive KET digital services from my DBS (direct broadcast satellite) provider?

KET has made all of our digital television services available to satellite companies in Kentucky. Satellite carriage depends on decisions made by individual satellite companies.

Contact your satellite company to find out which KET services are offered via satellite in your area, the equipment you may need, and the fees associated with local channels via satellite services.

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What type of television should I purchase?

Talk to your electronics retailer or refer to the many magazines and web sites on the subject to help you decide on the best model for you.

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Can I recycle my old TV?

Yes. For more information about how to recycle your television or other electronics, visit or

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