How to Receive Public Television Without Cable

By Christopher Carter

As of June 12, 2009, all full powered TV stations in the U.S. switched completely from analog to digital broadcasting. There are some low powered stations that haven't been required to broadcast a digital signal as of yet. However, the likelihood of receiving good reception from one of these type of stations is slim to none. As a result, there are two ways to receive free over-the-air channels without a cable hookup or satellite TV. You may purchase a new digital TV or a digital converter box for your existing analog TV set.

Things You'll Need

  • Digital television
  • Digital converter box

Step 1

Connect your analog TV set to a digital converter box. If you haven't done so already, you may submit a request via the Internet for a digital converter box coupon. Most digital converter boxes cost from $40 to $60 each. In addition to better picture quality and sound, the conversion to digital provides consumers with a wider range of public television channels to choose from.

Step 2

Buy a digital TV. As of March 1, 2007, all TV had to have a digital tuner or receiver. If you purchased your TV set prior to this date, you still may not have any problem receiving a digital signal. Look on your TV for markings like "Integrated Digital Tuner" or "built-in Digital Tuner." Other markings that indicate your TV has an integrated digital tuner are ATSC or DTV.

Step 3

Purchase a digital tuner or receiver. If your TV has a digital monitor, but not an integrated digital receiver, you'll need to buy a digital receiver to receive free over-the-air channels. Digital TV receivers may range anywhere from $100 to $400 depending on the features you might want. For example, if you're looking for a digital TV receiver capable of recording your favorite shows, expect to spend a little more.

Step 4

Assess your antenna needs. In order to receive public television with a clear picture, you'll need an antenna. You may opt for an outdoor antenna or an indoor antenna. Outdoor antennas should be put on the roof of your home, while an indoor antenna may be connected to your digital TV or digital converter box. You may have to try multiple antennas before finding the antenna that produces perfect reception. If you have a high definition TV, you may want to consider an HD antenna.