** FILE ** A cable box is seen on top of a television in Philadelphia in this May 30, 2007 file photo. TV's big switch from analog to digital broadcasts is coming up in just one year, on Feb. 17, 2009. And while consumers may still be puzzling over whether they need converter boxes for older TVs, there's far less mystery over which business interests could stand to gain from the shift. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, file)
They're hot commodities.. those digital converter boxes you need to keep your old analog-signal TV set working after February 17th. But funding has "dried up from East to West" for the boxes.. according to Topeka DMA market coordinator for the conversion, Sue Gilgenbach. She told Topeka City Council members Tuesday night that Kansans should definitely keep applying for the $40 dollar discount coupons for the boxes. If more money becomes available, either from new appropriations from Congress, or from unredeemed coupons for the discount, more can be issued. The earliest estimate is March on many of the boxes.. after the official conversion date.
Gilgenbach urged viewers to take advantage of the so-called "soft tests" of local station's digital signals. (WIBW-TV's soft test is coming up this morning at 6:00am, and again at 6:00pm on 13 News Wednesday.) Sue says fans of network shows will lose those shows if they're not digital ready with a signal from the local affiliates. And to the disappointment of Lana Kennedy, Gilgenbach told the council that there's no "free ride" or free service to help people get a digital television signal if they can't afford it.