2009-02-06 / Community

Weiner Pushes For DTV Delay

300,000 in City Unprepared for Switch

Representative Anthony Weiner Representative Anthony Weiner After calling for a delay in the national switch to digital television, the House passed a measure today to extend the transition date to June 12, 2009, Representative Anthony Weiner, the Vice Chair of the House Commerce Communications, Technology, and the Internet Subcommittee, has announced. The House passed the measure on Thursday and the bill is on its way to President Obama's desk.

An estimated 300,000 New York City households may be unprepared because they do not have a converter box or a digital TV. Nationwide, nearly 7 million homes are still unprepared. The June deadline will provide more time for those not ready for the digital switch.

Weiner pointed to new city data which shows nearly 60,000 New York City families on the waiting list for federal funds to purchase digital converter boxes. Close to 5,000 households from Rep. Weiner's Brooklyn and Queens district are on the waiting list. And there are two million households across the country waiting for federal funds.

Weiner announced that the stimulus package also includes $650 million to help subsidize the purchase of the converter boxes, which are needed to allow an older, analog TV to receive a digital signal.

In order to modernize its broadcast system, the government is requiring all television signals to switch from analog, as received by TVs with "rabbit ears", to digital. The all-digital switch is currently scheduled for February 17. Individuals who fail to convert will not be able to access the digital transmissions, including emergency government announcements, on analog televisions - creating a major public safety problem.

The government is offering $40 coupons to subsidize the purchase of the technology. Many seniors and low-income people may still face problems accessing and installing the new technology. Converters cost between from $45 - $75.

Weiner said, "A major change is coming to the way we provide New Yorkers with emergency information. We want to make sure everyone is prepared. With only two weeks until the February 17 conversion date, many will be left in the dark. Extending the date to June is the right thing to do."

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