Digital TV Transition, Master Antenna Upgrades
Q My buildings have master antennas that have been registered with the DHCR as a provided service. Only a handful of tenants do not have cable and are using the master antenna for their television broadcasting. What impact will the analog-to-digital transition have on owners of buildings with master antennas?
A According to an opinion letter recently issued by the DHCR, an owner with a master antenna system will have to find a technological alternative or upgrade—such as a new, updated master antenna—that will enable affected tenants to continue to have television service. Tenants would be responsible to purchase, at their expense, analog-to-digital converter boxes for their televisions.
A master antenna system receives TV signals through an antenna on the roof or in a central location and provides the signals through wiring in the building that connects to the TV set in individual apartments. Generally, for a master system it's not a simple matter of wiring directly attached to the antenna. There is some process in which the signals are processed and then delivered to the individual apartments.
With the transfer to digital signals, many of these antenna systems will need to be adjusted or upgraded so that the digital signals can be received and delivered through the wiring to your tenants' apartments so that tenants are able to view broadcast channels with a digital converter box or with a digital television set.
By not upgrading or effectively discontinuing the service, an owner could be subject to rent reductions as a result of complaints of a decrease in services. To minimize complaints and the chance of rent reductions, you should adjust or upgrade your master antenna system by the digital TV transition date. Full-power television stations nationwide must begin broadcasting exclusively in a digital format by June 12, 2009. The U.S. Congress approved an extension of the deadline, which was originally set for February 17.
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