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Digital TV Switch will Impact Rural Iowans the Most

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July 29, 2008

Des Moines, IA – The tube goes black in rural Iowa soon. Rural Iowans are more likely than urban folks to use antennas to bring in over-the-air TV signals, and many still have old analog television sets that will be obsolete on Feb. 17, 2009. That's the day broadcasters are required to make the switch to digital signals.

Neil Ritchie with the League of Rural Voters says being without television at that time of year can be precarious to Iowa seniors and those with disabilities.

"Especially during the winter, this can be a very dangerous time for people to be without access to television."

Ritchie says League of Rural Voters staff will be working throughout the summer and fall to spread the word in Iowa.

"If we know of a family member or a neighbor who may not know about the transition that's coming or may be reluctant to take any action, we try to encourage them and help them through this."

Ritchie says those with older analog television without cable or satellite will need to purchase a converter box in order to continue receiving the new digital signal through their antenna. These converter boxes are available for purchase. The federal government is offering $40 coupons to help offset the cost, but they must be redeemed within 90 days of purchase. Ritchie also warns that the supply of converter boxes may be limited by the time the switch occurs.

Information about how to help is available from the League of Rural Voters at LeagueOfRuralVoters.org.

Dick Layman/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - IA