Page last updated at 23:49 GMT, Friday, 12 June 2009 00:49 UK

US switches to digital television

TV being thrown out in Florida
Analogue TVs no longer work after Friday's switchover

About one million households in the United States were faced with blank television screens after stations switched off their analogue signal.

The nationwide transition to digital services saw a last-minute rush to buy converter boxes and TVs.

In total the US authorities have spent $2bn to smooth the transition.

US television viewers were bombarded with a series of adverts warning them that the analogue signal would be switched off on Friday.

The adverts urged them to buy converter boxes if they did not want to lose reception.

But many people remained confused by the challenge of switching to digital.

TV stations could choose exactly when to cut their analogue signals, with many waiting until late at night.

Television stations, electronics stores and the government said most of the calls they received on Friday were from people who needed help setting up their converter boxes, Associated Press reported.


Digital retail advisor Crystal Stroupe talks Greg Wood through the digital switchover

Some had thought digital broadcasting began on Friday and had not realised they could have been using the boxes to receive digital stations for years.

Unlike the United Kingdom, where the analogue signal is being switched off region by region, the United States decided to pull the plug in one go, across the nation, says the BBC's North America business correspondent Greg Wood in New York.

This has led to accusations that some groups, especially the elderly and the low income households, have been left behind in the digital rush.

The government has issued coupons, worth $40 each, to cover most of the cost, mailing 60 million coupons to households.

The commerce department said it received 319,990 requests for the coupons on Thursday, nearly four times the daily average for the past month, AP reported.

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