From the Summary: "The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (P.L. [Public Law] 109-171) directs that on February 18, 2009, over-the-air full-power television broadcasts -- which are currently provided by television stations in both analog and digital formats -- will become digital only. Digital television (DTV) technology allows a broadcaster to offer a single program stream of high definition television (HDTV), or alternatively, multiple video program streams (multicasts). Households with over-the-air analog-only televisions will no longer be able to receive full-power television service unless they either: (1) buy a digital-to-analog converter box to hook up to their analog television set; (2) acquire a digital television or an analog television equipped with a digital tuner; or (3) subscribe to cable, satellite, or telephone company television services, which will likely provide for the conversion of digital signals to their analog customers. […] At issue is whether the federal government's current programs and reliance on private sector stakeholders will lead to a successful digital transition with a minimum amount of disruption to American TV households or, alternatively, whether additional legislative measures are warranted. This report will be updated as events warrant."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34165