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Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Governor Martin O'Malley Urge Americans to Get Ready for National Switch to Digital TV

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

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Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Governor Martin O’Malley Urge Americans to Get Ready for National Switch to Digital TV

Locke Announces Outreach Efforts to Help Vulnerable Populations Prepare for June 12 Transition

Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley encouraged Americans to prepare for the June 12 switch to digital television at a community gathering today at Liberty Senior Center in Randallstown, Maryland. Secretary Locke commended local volunteers who are assisting senior citizens who rely on over-the-air television in their community with the upcoming digital transition.

“The national switch to digital television is just around the corner, and there won’t be another delay. We will continue work with leaders like Governor O’Malley and our community partners to reach out to our most vulnerable communities to ensure Americans are ready for June 12, so they can continue to receive important local news, favorite programs and emergency information,” said Secretary Locke. “If you’re already prepared for the switch to digital TV, help make sure your friends and family are ready too.”

President Obama signed the DTV Delay Act in February, which postponed the date television stations have to end their analog broadcasts and transition to digital signals to June 12. The President acted out of concern for millions of Americans who were not prepared for the switchover.

Secretary Locke also announced new outreach efforts to help unprepared communities get ready. In May, the Department of Commerce will send mobile assistance centers to more than 20 cities across the country, where staff will help consumers apply for coupons towards the purchase of TV converter boxes and learn how to install the boxes. Public Service Announcements will be placed in buses, transit shelters, and benches; and Spanish and English radio ads will run targeting unprepared communities.

The Recovery and Reinvestment Act set aside $650 million to allow the Department of Commerce to help unprepared Americans with the transition from analog to digital television. Commerce’s TV Converter Box Coupon Program provides $40 coupons for eligible household towards the purchase of TV converter boxes. The money funded an additional 12.25 million coupons to help consumers offset the cost of buying digital-to-analog converter boxes.

The Recovery Act funding allowed the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to eliminate the waiting list for coupons, mail them out first-class and process all coupon requests within a maximum of nine business days.