KING 5’s Matsukawa helps seniors prepare for DTV switch

KING 5 News co-anchor Lori Matsukawa visited the Redmond Senior Center Wednesday to talk about the nationwide transition from analog to digital TV (DTV) and how to prepare for the change.

KING 5 News co-anchor Lori Matsukawa visited the Redmond Senior Center Wednesday to talk about the nationwide transition from analog to digital TV (DTV) and how to prepare for the change.

On Feb. 17, 2009, all television stations across the country will begin broadcasting in the digital format.

“They stopped making analog TVs in March of 2007, but they’re still out on store shelves or in people’s homes,” Matsukawa advised. To receive a digital broadcast signal when the transition takes place, analog TV owners must take one of three steps:

• Buy a new, digital TV.

• Obtain a converter box.

• Get cable or satellite TV service.

Matsukawa was asked by her employers to be part of a speakers’ bureau that is educating Seattle-area residents about the process.

“We all want people to continue to watch KING 5 News,” on Feb. 17 and thereafter, she admitted.

Some people have asked her why this change is mandatory. It’s due, she explained, to an Act of Congress, to provide a more efficient way to broadcast, called “multicasting.”

So instead of just having one program on Channel 5, with the digital set-up, you can access an all-weather program, all-traffic, all-sports, etc. via various digits attached to the number 5.

Another benefit is that this new system frees up more public airwaves for emergency broadcasts.

“And it’s time to catch up with the rest of the world,” Matsukawa added. “Japan and many European countries all have it.”

However, lots of people using older TVs must take action in order to watch their favorite shows. This change will affect 2.3 million viewers in the United States, 365,000 in Washington state and 131,000 households in King County.

People who want to keep their analog TVs and receive digital broadcasts with a converter box can call or go online to receive $40 coupons (a maximum of two per household) toward the purchase of the boxes, which cost about $50 and are available at stores that sell TVs.

Call 1-888-DTV-2009 or visit if that is your preferred option. Please note that you must redeem the coupon within 90 days or it will expire, Matsukawa said.

“And you can’t use two coupons to buy one converter and keep the change,” she remarked. “But Christmas is coming up! ‘Oh honey, thank you for the converter box!’,” she joked.

Households with more than two analog TVs will have to buy the additional converter boxes at full price (or switch to a new TV or get cable or satellite service).

Converter boxes come with instructions on how to hook them up to your analog TV.

Matsukawa also mentioned that new antennas are “very directional, have to be twisted or turned to get the best reception,” and that whether they are indoor or outdoor antennas, they should be placed as high as possible for best results. For an indoor antenna, an attic is a good place to put it.

Although this all may seem like a lot of work or expense, Matsukawa told the crowd, “You’ll get all these extra channels. The signal is remarkably wonderful. It’s a sharper, clearer picture and the audio is sharper, too.”

You could also forget all this and get a new digital TV with this tuner built-in, but the transition has to happen.”

“We’ve been doing analog over 80 years. It’s time to move into the 21st Century. Option three is to go to a service like cable or satellite and then you don’t have to do anything — that’ll take care of it.”

The presentation came to a humorous conclusion as the conversation shifted to KING 5 Weatherman Jeff Renner’s wardrobe and whether or not he looks better without a mustache.

For additional information about the Digital TV (DTV) transition, go to