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Digital Delay Gives Californians More Time To Prepare

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February 17, 2009

The television industry's nationwide switch to digital broadcasting was supposed to begin today -- but its four-month delay is giving hundreds of thousands of Californians extra time to prepare.

According to ACNielsen data, California ranks at the top of states affected by the digital television (DTV) transition. By city, Los Angeles has the highest number of households relying on the free analog TV signals, with nearly a million homes.

Tracy Rosenberg is executive director of Media Alliance, a group that has set up assistance centers to help consumers navigate by the transition. She says those whose households need the most help with the process -- ordering the coupon, buying the digital converter box, and then setting it up -- include the elderly, people with disabilities and residents with limited English-speaking skills.

"What we've found is that the three populations we're identifying are basically running into roadblocks, in one of those three phases."

And, although the DTV transition has been postponed to June 12 at President Obama's request, Rosenberg cautions that Californians shouldn't wait to take action.

"People need to understand that, if they wait until the last minute, they might really get jammed up. So, it's important to be proactive. We have these assistance centers now to help folks out, and really put it on the agenda as an important thing to do."

Congress authorized the digital switch to free up airwaves for public safety communications and new wireless services.
More information is available online, at www.media-alliance.org.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA