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See if there is an option in the TV's user setup menu for changing the optical audio output to PCM instead of Dolby Digital. Obviously the optical port is not putting out analogue, so I suspect this is a PCM/Dolby Digital or Dolby Digital 5.1 issue on some channels. I'm assuming that you're using the internal tuner and not other devices that are connected to inputs on the TV, which can also be problematical as discussed in the following FAQ on DD5.1:

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=17870 (Bolding)

(In your case the situation is "reversed" in that you probably do not want DD5.1 since the "converter" device you have cannot handle it.) Perhaps you could get a converter that handles DD signals.

Can you explain what you mean by "hearing aid loop" and what's the make/model of the "converter"? You may need to get a TV that has analogue outs, but even then the internal speakers of the TV are usually turned off if you activate those outs. You may wish to consider an external AVR or HTiB which can give you audio via the speakers and perhaps an active set of analogue outs.
 

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Download the operating manual for the TV and do a search for PCM in that pdf. Have a browse through the various audio menus in the TV to see if there is a PCM option. You could purchase an external ATSC tuner which may provide a PCM (or stereo) option, and/or analogue audio outs?

Edit: I downloaded the manual and found 3 references to PCM, none of them useful. I then perused the audio section of the operating manual (around page 147) and again found nothing useful. Sorry.

It's possible that the item is undocumented and is available in one of the menus, but it's hard to tell from here. ;)

On page 151 there is an option for DTV called Multi-Audio. Is there an appropriate option there?
 
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