Reuters top ten news stories delivered to your inbox each day.
You are here:
Business & Finance
The Great Debate
Do More With Reuters
Make Reuters My Homepage
Support (Customer Zone)
About Thomson Reuters
U.S. gears up for digital TV switch on June 12
Thu Mar 5, 2009 3:25pm EST
Email | Print |
| Reprints | Single Page
By Kim Dixon
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With about three months to go, U.S. regulators say some consumers are still unprepared for the television industry switch to digital broadcasting, which will affect Americans who do not receive their signals through cable or satellite.
The federally mandated transition was originally set for February 17, but lawmakers postponed it to June 12 on the theory that people need more time to get ready.
The switch from analog to digital allows broadcasters to send more data efficiently, and also frees up the existing analog spectrum for such uses as cellphone and public-safety radio transmissions.
About a third of the nation's 1,800 full-power broadcasters switched from analog to digital TV signals on the original February 17 date, though only about 15 percent of the nation's households were affected.
"We must be mindful that this is just the beginning and that the large impacts lie ahead of us," Eloise Gore, associate chief in the media bureau at the Federal Communications Commission, told a public meeting on the switch on Thursday.
President Barack Obama and most congressional Democrats won a delay of the full digital transition to June 12, after a government coupon program for converter boxes needed for older TVs could not provide coupons due to budget issues. That put millions of households on a coupon waiting list.
Backers of a delay feared vulnerable groups, like the elderly and needy, would lose access to emergency information if they lost television signals for days.
"For many, television is not simply a source of entertainment but a vital source of news that can be a lifeline in an emergency situation," acting FCC chairman Michael Copps said.
For the most part, the transition in February went smoothly. Significantly fewer calls came into call centers than estimated, for example. Still, the government expects up to 3 million telephone calls for help between now and June 12.
5 MILLION STILL UNREADY
Still, about 5 million U.S. households are still "totally unready" and 2.3 million households are waiting for the $40 government coupons, the government said.
"We are ... struggling with the procrastination of seniors who now see the June 12 date and see they have more time to act," said Sandy Markwood, chief of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.
But that coupon waiting list should be cleared within three weeks now that the government has millions in new stimulus money assigned to re-fund the program and allow it to use first-class mail, among other changes.
The government is now sending out 2 million coupons a week with a turnaround time of 9 days, compared with 21 days, thanks to new funding, an official said.
Among the most common problems for consumers have been reception issues because of antennas that need to be repositioned or replaced. Viewers must also perform a scan to pick up channels once they receive a converter box, according to the FCC. Continued...
View article on single page
Both parties stew over Obama infrastructure changes
Also On Reuters
Blog: Forget broadcasting, the future is narrowcasting
O'Shaughnessy sees big upside, S&P 500 at 900
Economic crisis hurts male workers most: U.N.
More Entertainment News
Michael Jackson announces comeback
Chris Brown charged with assault on Rihanna
Beatles fans to get videogame September 9
"Watchmen" is treasure trove for philosophers
Britney Spears puts on "Circus" for comeback tour
More Entertainment News...
A selection of our best photos from the past 24 hours. Slideshow
Most Popular on Reuters
UPDATE 4-Venezuela's Chavez seizes U.S. food giant unit
White House enemy No. 1: Rush Limbaugh
Filmmaker plans "Eyeborg" eye-socket camera
GM auditors raise doubt on viability
Venezuela sees no further Cargill takeovers
U.S. mogul's wife calls time on $60 million space hobby | Video
UPDATE 2-Wells Fargo need not cut dividend - analyst Bove
Google letting cash "pile up": CEO
California high court reviews gay marriage ban
Former Merrill execs invested in Madoff funds: report
Most Popular Articles RSS Feed
Luxury car market losing its shine?
Wanted: President al-Bashir
Talk of the Town - Britney's back
China Unicom eyes iPhone
Bulldozer attack shooting on video
Jerusalem attack, driver shot
Scores dead in Mexico prison riot
Clinton's tough talk
Deadly Russia gas blast
Cameras capture attack aftermath
Most Popular Videos RSS Feed
A look at the fashion hits and misses at this year's Academy Awards. Slideshow
Highlights from the 81st Academy Awards in Hollywood. Slideshow
Winning an Oscar
From Sean Penn to Penelope Cruz, a look at the stars taking home Oscar. Slideshow
The global destination for corporate leaders, deal-makers and innovators
Knowledge to Act
Help and Contact Us |
Advertise With Us |
Interactive TV |
Reuters in Second Life |
Site Index |
Thomson Reuters Corporate:
Professional Products |
Professional Products Support |
About Thomson Reuters |
Latin America |
United Kingdom |
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on Reuters.com, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.