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The Analog TV Problem

Today, the Federal Communications Commission has fined a number of retailers including RadioShack, Fred Meyer Stores and Boscov??. These retailers failed to post special labels on their analog-only televisions notifying consumers that, come 2009, their TVs will stop working.

Remember, on Feb. 19, 2009, the TV broadcasting industry is supposed to switch from analog signals to digital. To be able to receive programming, consumers will need TVs with digital tuners. Owners of older TV sets, with only analog tuners, will need to invest into special converter boxes.

Unfortunately, many consumers are still not aware of the Feb. 19 deadline. As of June, RadioShack, for one, failed to post special, FCC-mandated warning labels onto its analog-only TVs. A lot of other retailers are failing to comply as well. As a result, some consumers may be buying analog televisions not realizing that these devices will stop working in a little over a year.

Just how many U.S. consumers will be taken by surprise by the February deadline? My bet is, many. Next two years could prove to be a boon for TV retailers, as many Americans upgrade to new, all-digital TV sets. We could also see quite a few people ?those who just bought their new, analog-only TVs — get very angry. The American TV retail industry could have a problem on its hands.

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