Retailers called on to help minority groups make DTV transition

by Elizabeth Baier, Minnesota Public Radio

Minneapolis — Local and national organizations are calling on retailers to help people in minority communities with the government transition to all digital television broadcast.

The transition to all digital broadcast will take place on June 12.

All U.S. households are eligible to request up to two coupons -- worth $40 each -- for the purchase of converter boxes. But the converter boxes are selling for as much as $70 in some stores.

Amalia Deloney is with the non-profit group Main Street Project. She said the transition may widen the digital divide among racial and ethnic groups.

"People need to understand, if TV is the most simple form of technology that most people have access to in their homes, if they can't even make a switch successfully with television, what's going to happen as our country becomes more technology dependant?" Deloney said.

Steven Renderos with the Minnesota Media Empowerment Project said retailers can play a role by providing consumers with no-cost boxes.

"Retailers [can] play that role in being socially responsible, providing a no-cost box, which especially, means sell it at $40 what the government is offering," Renderos said. "Sell it at that price and I think folks can afford to keep connected."

A recent Nielson report estimates at least 4 percent of households in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area are completely unprepared for the transition. That's slightly higher than the national average of 3.2 percent.

article originally published at Minnesota Public Radio.

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