Seattle, other high-tech cities included in "at risk" list for DTV transition

by Ian Lamont, Industry Standard

Seattle and San Francisco have been included in a list of seven urban centers with "at risk" communities for the February 2009 transition to digital television.

According to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund and the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, San Francisco/San Jose/Oakland and Seattle/Tacoma were included because they have relatively high numbers of residents who watch analog over-the-air television broadcasts and relatively low participation in the NTIA's TV Converter Box Coupon Program.

The other cities on the list are Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, San Antonio and Portland, Oregon.

An LCCREF press release said that "families on fixed incomes, seniors, people with disabilities, people of color, and those who speak languages other than English" are most likely to be impacted on February 17, when all full-power analog transmitters are powered down and replaced with DTV signals. The organization is working with community organizations in the seven cities to increase awareness of the DTV transition and establish DTV Assistance Centers, where residents can purchase converter boxes, receive translated instructions, and see demonstrations of how to install and use them.

As of last week, the NTIA reported that 40 million converter box coupons had been requested, but only 16 million redeemed. Owners of older sets who want to watch over-the-air television will need converter boxes to display the DTV broadcasts. People who subscribe to cable or satellite TV, as well as owners of high-definition televisions and new sets that can receive digital signals will be able to watch DTV programming without any additional equipment.

The National Association of Broadcasters estimates that more than 34 million households will be affected by the DTV transition, which is less than one-third of all households in the United States.

article originally published at

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey