Terrestrial TV stations go totally digital today

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Terrestrial TV stations go totally digital today

The last analog TV program aired by terrestrial TV stations will be done at 4 a.m. today, ending the old mode of broadcasting and completing the conversion to high-definition digital channels.

The Korea Communications Commission, the state-run body in charge of the transition to the digital broadcasting era, said yesterday it will terminate conventional analog broadcasts in Seoul and surrounding areas at 4 a.m. today as originally scheduled.

Other provinces in the country have already gone through the change from early this year.

A digital TV is required to watch digital TV programs broadcast by terrestrial TV networks such as KBS, MBC and SBS. Households without digital TVs must have converters. One can request a digital converter by calling 124 to connect to a 24-hour call center.

Households who subscribe to cable or satellite services will not be affected by the change.

The government has proposed a set of measures to promote the conversion by providing subsidies to households in lower income brackets.

Households that received the basic cost of living payments can get up to 100,000 won ($94) to purchase a digital TV or can get a digital converter for free.

Average households will receive 40,000 won in government aid to rent a converter and are required to pay only 20,000 won to rent the device from post offices.

The communications commission estimates there are about 50,000 households in the capital area that lack the means to watch digital terrestrial channels. It takes one to three days to set up a converter and an antenna.

In contrast to the terrestrial TV networks, cable companies still have a long way to go to fully convert to digital broadcasting services.

Criticisms have been mounting against the commission for its lack of guidelines and budget plans for seven million households subscribing to analog cable channels.

By Yang Sung-hee [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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