WASHINGTON — It may not rank with July Fourth or Pioneer Day as declared observances, but Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, persuaded the Senate Friday to declare the month of August as Digital Television Transition Awareness Month.

Hatch introduced the resolution to draw attention to what people need to do to prepare for TV stations converting from analog to digital broadcast signals on Feb. 17, 2009.

By that date, people with older analog TVs will need to purchase a digital converter box to receive broadcast signals, or subscribe to cable or satellite services or buy a new TV with digital capabilities.

"In the Salt Lake City area there are more than 200,000 homes that rely on free analog TV signals. That is the highest percentage of any major U.S. metropolitan area," Hatch said. "This resolution will help encourage those who need to take action to do so now instead of waiting until the last minute."

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is offering coupons toward the purchase of a converter box.

For information about the transition, or to request a coupon, consumers may go online to www.dtv2009.gov or call 1-888-DTV-2009.