updated 10/17/2007 11:13:31 AM ET 2007-10-17T15:13:31

Best Buy Co. said Wednesday it has stopped selling analog televisions and pulled all remaining stock from its shelves, signalling the end of an era as consumers increasingly move toward digital products with flat-panel and high-definition screens.

Best Buy, one of the nation's top electronics retailers, heralded the reign of digital TVs, saying it made the move "as the end of the analog broadcast era draws near." Best Buy instructed stores to stop selling the products on Oct. 1.

Beginning Feb. 18, 2009, broadcasters will stop transmitting analog signals.

Non-digital television sets that are not attached to a cable or satellite service and not equipped with special converter boxes will no longer work.

Best Buy is the first consumer-electronics retailer to report an exit from the analog-TV business. More than 60 million U.S. households currently rely on an antennas or analog cable, and cable operators are required to guarantee their customers will receive broadcast channels until February 2012.

Those millions of households offer a lucrative market opportunity for electronics retailers and television manufacturers alike.

"We are committed to helping people understand the digital television transition, and exiting the analog video business is one way we can help avoid confusion," Mike Vitelli, senior vice president of electronics, said in a statement.

After the first of the year, the government will be making available to each household two coupons worth $40 each that can be used to buy two converter boxes. Best Buy will sell coupon-eligible converter boxes starting in early 2008.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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