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Six days to digital TV

POSTED June 27, 2009 3:12 p.m.
Turlockers who make use of analog broadcast television were granted a four-month reprieve when the transition to digital TV was postponed from Feb. 17 to June 12, but the new cutoff date for analog broadcast television is now just six days away.
“In the months since then (the postponement), we have worked hand in hand with state and local officials, broadcasters, and community groups to educate and assist millions of Americans with the transition,” President Barack Obama said. “The number of households unprepared for digital television has been cut in half.
“Still, some people are not ready,” he continued. “I want to be clear: There will not be another delay.”
Homes around the country that rely on antennae to receive broadcast television will see their screens turn to static on Friday if they have not upgraded to a digital-ready TV or purchased a digital to analog converter box, which cost approximately $40 to $60. As of May 4, 3.5 million households were still unprepared for the DTV transition.
Those still in need of converter boxes can apply by July 31 for up to two $40 government coupons to offset the cost of the boxes, available at www.dtv2009.gov. Coupons take approximately one week to be mailed out, and must be used within 90 days.
Cable and satellite television subscribers will be unaffected by the transition.
The conversion to digital television was initiated to provide consumers with better picture quality and sound, while freeing up wireless spectrum for public safety agencies and advanced mobile phone and Internet services. More than 750 TV stations have already transitioned to digital across the country, but none in the Turlock area will make the switch prior to June 12.
Despite the potential long-term benefits of the DTV transition, the federal government remains concerned that countless Americans could be without their main source of information and entertainment in the weeks following the switch.
“I urge everyone who is not yet prepared to act today, so you don’t lose important news and emergency information on June 12,” Obama said. “And I encourage all Americans who are prepared, to talk to their friends, family, and neighbors to make sure they get ready before it’s too late.”
For more information on the digital TV transition, call the Federal Communications Commission at 1-888-CALL-FCC, or visit www.dtv.gov and enter your zip code or state in the upper right-hand corner of the page.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.
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