Many rural areas making digital TV switch early

Jonathan Lawson, Daily Yonder

Last week Congress voted to delay the upcoming digital TV transition date until June 12. The decision was provoked by the fact that an estimated 20 million Americans remain unprepared to lose access to over-the-air TV broadcasts. Over three million are currently on a waiting list to receive $40 coupons intended to defray the cost of buying DTV converter boxes for old TVs. Funds for the government coupon program effectively ran out in January, and have not yet been replenished.

Delaying the switch until June 12 should mean a sigh of relief for these unprepared viewers. Turns out, not so much, at least for those living in rural areas and small cities.

Congress left a loophole in the date change, allowing local stations the option to turn off their analog signals as early as Feb. 17 if they chose. And across the country, many stations serving rural areas are deciding to do just that.

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Funding for DTV coupons, outreach uncertain in stimulus debate

John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable

For the moment, the $650 million in the economic stimulus package for the constipated DTV-to-analog converter box coupon program is safe.

According to a source with the office of Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND), an amendment drafted as part of the horse-trading Friday over the price of that stimulus package had initially cut all the funding for the program, which subsidizes converter boxes.

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Some Seattle stations may end analog broadcasting on Feb 17

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

RTM note: watch for an updated list of stations in the Seattle/Tacoma market and their plans for the DTV switch. We will also link to other regional and national lists of information as they become available.

Television viewers who use antennas and were expecting a few more months to prepare for digital TV may not have much time left before their sets go dark: Many stations still plan to drop analog broadcasts in less than two weeks. When Congress postponed the mandatory transition to digital TV until June, it also gave stations the option to stick to the originally scheduled date of Feb. 17.

That means the shutdown of analog signals, which broadcasters had hoped would happen at nearly the same time nationwide, could now unfold in a confusing patchwork of different schedules. In Seattle, major broadcasters have broken ranks on the issue, with three stations postponing the transition to digital-only over-the-air broadcasting. Two other major stations are still discussing whether to postpone.

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Most SF Bay-area channels will delay digital switch

David Baker, San Francisco Chronicle

Most Bay Area television stations will delay until June the switch to all-digital broadcasts, now that Congress has given them the option.

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Confused by the DTV switch? It may be getting worse

Julio Ojedo-Zapata, St. Paul Pioneer-Press

If you thought delaying the digital television transition until June would make it easier on everyone, think again.

Twin Cities stations were to switch to all-digital broadcasts Feb. 17, but Congress just pushed the deadline to June 12. Once the bill is signed by President Barack Obama as expected, millions of unprepared viewers will have extra time to get ready.

That is only part of the story. At least one Twin Cities station, WUCW on Channel 23, will still go all-digital in 11 days, as will several stations in outstate Minnesota and in western Wisconsin.

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Finding an affordable converter box before the big switch

Joshua Breitbart, Gotham Gazette

RTM note: Reclaim the Media is working with the Seattle Mayor's office and the City Council to ask local retailers to carry DTV converted boxes in the $40-$45 range.

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Digital TV conversion delayed until June 12

Ryan Kim, San Francisco Chronicle

Television viewers who rely on sets with antennas to pick up their broadcast signals have about four extra months to get ready for the nation's switch to digital TV.

The House of Representatives voted 264 to 158 today to move back the Feb. 17 deadline to June 12, sending the fast-tracked legislation to President Obama, who has promised to sign it. The vote, largely along party lines, gives approximately 6.5 million unprepared households more time to prepare for the day when all analog TV broadcasts are turned off.

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After switch, Wilmington consumers sticking with free TV

Kim McAvoy, TV Newsday

Last fall, when Wilmington, N.C., broadcasters were getting ready for the
DTV switchover trial, the city's local cable operator, Time Warner Cable,
saw a golden opportunity.

Here was a chance to lengthen its subscriber rolls.

A "dear neighbor" letter went out to Wilmington residents encouraging them
to sign up for a $7.95 per month basic cable package as an "easy solution"
to the DTV transition.

Time Warner is not alone is trying to capitalize on the DTV transition.
Other cable and satellite operators have offered similar inducements as the

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Reclaim the Media praises DTV transition delay

Reclaim the Media

Today, local media justice organization Reclaim the Media praised Congress' decision to delay the nation's shift to digital television. Today's vote by the House of Representatives delays the DTV transition, originally scheduled for Feb. 17, until June 12. By that date, television stations across the country will turn off their analog signals and continue broadcasting only in digital.

"Delaying the switch was the only way to avoid leaving tens of thousands of Seattle-area viewers in the dark," said RTM executive director Jonathan Lawson. "Congress still needs to provide additional funding for the coupon program, and for public education. As in much of the country, Seattle viewers are not yet ready to lose analog TV."

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Copps: many TV stations could move earlier than June 12

John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable

The FCC says 61% of TV stations (1,089) should be able to turn off their analog signal before June 12 if they choose to without causing interference to other stations, and that "most" of the remaining 700 or so stations "may" also be able to do so.

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