Millions still not ready for DTV transition

Eric A.Taub, Gadgetwise/New York Times

With just slightly more than two weeks to go before the nation shuts off its analog broadcast TV system, 3.1 million households, 2.7 percent of the nation, are not ready to receive digital signals on their TVs.

That’s the word from Nielsen; the company notes that that number continues to decline, with about 100,000 more households getting equipped each week. If that holds, then only around 2.9 million households will be wondering where their TV channels went come June 13th.

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Get ready for June 12: where to find DTV Assistance in Seattle

Need help finding or setting up your DTV converter box in Seattle? The June 12 DTV conversion date is just around the corner, and Seattle-area DTV Assistance Centers are open to provide help:

For local telephone assistance, call 206.508.1277 (english) or 206.988.3760 (español).

Local drop-in centers open Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5pm-8pm:
Rainier Community Center, 4600 38th Ave S
Garfield Community Center, 2323 East Cherry St.
Yesler Community Center, 917 E. Yesler Way
Van Asselt Community Center, 2820 S. Myrtle St

Local drop-in centers open business hours Mon-Fri:
Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW. Open 9am-9pm.
Leadership Academy, 425 SW 144th St, Burien. Open noon-8pm (en español)

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FCC announces national DTV test on May 21, before switch

Amy Schatz, Wall Street Journal

The Federal Communications Commission wants broadcasters to suspend regular programming and instead show a public-service ad about the digital transition for three five-minute periods May 21 as part of an effort to make sure Americans are ready for the switch.

The broadcasters would take the action at 7:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. that day, according to people briefed on the plan. Local broadcasters have voluntarily conducted similar tests across the country but this would be the first national test. The test wouldn't apply to stations which have already switched to digital-only.

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How to keep DTV from going astray

Gary Sgrignoli, TV Newsday

Gary Sgrignoli may know as much about DTV transmission -- its strengths, its weaknesses, its quirks --  as any person alive.

For nearly 30 years, he worked at Zenith Electronics (now LG Electronics) where he was deeply involved in the development and testing of the 8-VSB transmission scheme, which was ultimately adopted as the ATSC standard.

Now, a partner in the Meintel, Sgrignoli & Wallace consulting firm, Sgrignoli has emerged as a DTV transmission guru, keeping a sharp watch for problems as they arise and figuring out how to fix them.

Over the past 10 years, he has shared his wisdom with broadcast engineers through more than 85 all-day seminars on 8-VSB.

In this interview with TVNewsday, Sgrignoli talks about what broadcasters -- and viewers -- need to do to make sure viewers can find the DTV signals and keep the pictures sharp and steady.

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Rural America's digital TV doldrums

Mimi Pickering, Daily Yonder

Art Menius lives high on a hillside in rural Letcher County, Kentucky. When he learned in January 2008 of the upcoming transition to digital television he was one of the first to request a $40 coupon for a converter box to use with his indoor, “rabbit-ears” style antenna. The local Wal-Mart, the only retailer in town, didn't have converter boxes in stock yet, so Menius purchased one online for around $58 plus shipping costs.

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A Socially responsible DTV transition: Countdown to June 12

Reclaim the Media

While urging local viewers to plan ahead for the DTV transition, public interest groups and elected officials ask local retailers to do their part

On April 17, Seattle City Council president Richard Conlin and Energy, Technology and Commerce Committee chair Bruce Harrell joined community groups to remind local residents that the time is now to get prepared for the June 12 DTV transition, by applying for converter box coupons, and installing and testing new equipment if needed. Councilmembers also repeated their call, first made earlier this year, for local retailers to do their part for a socially responsible DTV transition, by providing a no-cost converter box option for consumers redeeming $40 coupons distributed by the federal government.

"In the current economy, nobody should be faced with economic hardship just to maintain their access to local TV news and emergency information," said Conlin. "Free TV is an essential service for many households, not an optional expense."

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Retailers called on to help minority groups make DTV transition

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.

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Retailers need a better approach to DTV transition

Omar Ahmed, New Mexico Independent

The June 12th date of the much discussed Digital Television (DTV) Transition looms nearer, but Nielsen Media reports that 3.8 million households are still not ready and 3.4 percent of all homes would no longer have any TV service at all if analog service disappeared today.

Though the federal government’s coupon program is back on track and people with expired coupons can now reapply, millions of people of color, poor and working class people, the elderly, and disabled communities remain unable to afford the costly converter boxes needed to maintain television access once broadcast signals are no longer available.

By now most people agree that the DTV Transition was poorly conceived. Still, the burden of the cost laid in the laps of the poorest consumers hasn’t really been sufficiently alleviated — even with the recent additional allocation of $600 million by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for education and coupons to subsidize the cost of converter boxes.

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3.6 million households still unprepared for DTV

John Eggerton, Multichannel News

Nielsen says that as of April 12, 3.6 million TV housholds are "completely unready" for the DTV transition June 12.

That is an improvement of 200,000 households over the past two weeks.

As of March 29, 3.8 million were completely unready. Nielsen points out there are "just" nine weeks until the transition.

Nielsen said that Albuquerque-Santa Fe remains the least ready market at 9.13%, while the most prepared is Hartford-New Haven, where "everybody" is ready.

Nielsen's survey numbers are based on field staffers in 35,000-plus sample homes -- all of its metered households.

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DTV reception, box issues considered at hearing

John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

DTV-to-analog converter box availability and reception issues dominated the second panel of a House DTV transition oversight hearing Thursday. That is after Communications, Technology & Internet Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher (D-VA) assured concerned panelists and other legislators that the DTV hard date was not moving again.

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