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Daily Newscasts

I Want My DTV: Groups Working to Keep All Connected

June 8, 2009

Des Moines, IA – The big switch happens Friday, when 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 TV stations have been doing a good job explaining that the change is near. However, the people who most depend on their old TVs with the rabbit-ears antennas are the ones who are 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, and that's more true for low-income folks, for seniors and for immigrants, than it is for any other group."

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 box. Free help clinics are open this week in Ames, Ottumwa, Keokuk, Mason City and Clinton.

You can learn more about how to convert your TV in time for the switch at the government's digital TV Web site

Information on free DTV clinics in Iowa is at

Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA