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Best Buy ends analog television sales

(Adds company comment, details)

ATLANTA, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Retailer Best Buy Co BBY.N said on Wednesday it has pulled all analog television products from its stores ahead of a planned 2009 U.S. switch to digital television.

The consumer electronics retailer said its stores were instructed to stop selling analog products on Oct. 1 and it will now sell only digital video tuners.

The move is designed to help boost awareness of the switch to digital signals by U.S. broadcasters that is due to take effect by Feb. 17, 2009. At that point, many older TVs using analog signals will not work.

“The majority of people don’t know about (the switch),” Mike Vitelli, Best Buy senior vice president of electronics, said in an interview.

While consumers who have cable or satellite service will not notice a big change, those who still use rabbit-ear or rooftop antennas to get television will not be able to watch TV after the transition, unless they get a converter box, subscribe to cable or satellite, or get a digital TV.

Vitelli estimated that 25 million to 30 million households with analog TVs would be affected by the change.

Best Buy said it was the first electronics retailer to publicly announce an exit from analog sets. “The analog TV portion of our assortment has been dwindling each year,” Vitelli said.

Circuit City Stores Inc CC.N, which also sells electronic goods, said on Wednesday it would provide educational pamphlets and boost store signage to help make consumers aware of the digital transition, which is expected to bring improvements in video and audio quality.

(Reporting by Karen Jacobs)

((Editing by Tim Dobbyn; karen.jacobs.reuters.com@reuters.net +1 404 493 3656))

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