What happened to my free, over-the-air TV? If you’re reading this, odds are that it doesn’t apply to you. But, it may apply to someone close to you.

Beginning Feb. 18, 2009, anyone who does not own a television with a digital tuner will cease to receive their programming via over-the-air antennas. They will no longer receive an analog signal. That day analog signals will go dark, and only digital signals will be broadcast free. Goodbye black-and-white, goodbye color, hello digital high-definition television. It has not only arrived, it will be the only signal broadcast by “free” over-the-air TV after Feb. 18, 2009.

Of course there are many millions of TVs manufactured that can’t receive digital signals. According to the AP, congress and the US government have come up with a plan to allow everyone to watch TV. It’s only available to the first 22 million requests. Basically, it allows a $40 government coupon that could be applied to special converter boxes.

The converter boxes are expected to cost between $50 and $70 and will be available at most big box and electronic retailers.

To request a coupon, consumers can apply online at http://www.dtv2009.gov. The government also has set up a 24-hour hotline to take requests, 1-888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009).