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Time for the Big Switch to Digital: Are you Ready New Hampshire?

June 8, 2009

Manchester, NH – Television as we have always known it is about to change. The big switch to digital TV finally happens this coming Friday, June 12. Analog television screens will go blank, and a converter box will be needed to pick up digital TV over the air.

Jonathan Lawson with the organization Reclaim the Media says New Hampshire's TV stations and newspapers have been doing a good job explaining that the change is near – but the people who most depend on their old TVs with the rabbit-ears antennas are the ones least likely to know about the switch, and he says some can't afford the change that's coming.

"Free TV is a lifeline of public safety information and local news for a lot of people. That’s more true for low-income folks, for seniors and for immigrants, than it is for any other groups."

Lawson says Congress authorized the digital TV coupons in an effort to keep television access free – even after the conversion. He says there are plenty of online sites where you can get a converter box for the value of the coupon, but finding a box at a local electronics store at the coupon value is not so easy.

"The government coupons, still available for free, will provide 40 dollars off the cost of the box but, unfortunately, local retailers have mostly been selling boxes in the 60 to 100 dollar range."

Reclaim the Media has been doing outreach for months to make sure people know about the free government coupons and also how to hook up their new digital TV boxes.

If you have cable TV, everything will remain the same.

For local details about the switch: www.wmur.com or
www.nhptv.org. The government's information site is
www.dtv.gov

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - NH