In 2009, TV Enters the Twilight Zone

It sounds like the plot of a political-intrigue novel: television screens across the nation go blank; the government has declared an end to TV as we know it.

But it's true. By law, on Feb. 17, 2009, TV transmitters in the United States will have to discontinue all analog feeds and use only digital frequencies. After that, anyone who gets his TV via antenna (about one in six households) will see only snow—until he buys a new digital TV set or a converter box (the government will chip in a few bucks for the latter). Viewers who already get cable or satellite TV won't notice a difference.

The idea is to free up the crowded airwaves, and raise money for Uncle Sam. Some frequencies will be handed to emergency responders; the rest will be auctioned off to wireless service companies. As for those old rabbit ears? You can always donate them to a Playboy bunny.

In 2009, TV Enters the Twilight Zone | Culture