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Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Urges Seattle Residents to Prepare for June 12 Switch to Digital Television

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

CONTACT OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS

202-482-4883

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Urges Seattle Residents to Prepare for June 12 Switch to Digital Television

Commerce to Increase Outreach to Seattle Area During Final 30 Days

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke is urging Seattle residents to prepare for the national switch to digital television (DTV) before the June 12 deadline, which is less than 30 days away. In the final month before the national switch, the Commerce Department is increasing its outreach efforts into communities that have been identified as the least prepared for the transition, including the Seattle area.

“With less than 30 days to go, Seattle residents who haven’t prepared for the transition need to act now so they will be able to continue to receive the television programming they count on for important news and emergency information,” said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. “The Department of Commerce is aggressively reaching out to the most unprepared communities across the country, including Seattle, to help them get ready for the June 12 national switch. I commend Councilmember Bruce Harrell and the entire Seattle City Council for their work to help educate Seattle residents about the upcoming digital transition. If you’re already prepared for the switch to digital TV, make sure your friends and family are ready, too.”

Consumers who have TVs connected to cable, satellite or another pay TV service are ready for the transition to digital. Consumers who rely on free, over-the-air TV and use “rabbit ears” or a rooftop antenna with a television that uses an analog tuner will lose television service on June 12 if they don’t prepare. There are several options that consumers have to get ready for the transition including: subscribing to cable, satellite or another pay service; buying a television with a digital tuner, or purchasing a TV converter box.

The president’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act set aside $650 million to help millions of unprepared Americans get ready for the transition from analog to digital television. The money funded the creation of an additional 12.25 million coupons to help consumers offset the cost of buying digital-to-analog converter boxes and has allowed the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to eliminate the waiting list for coupons.

During the final month before the end of analog broadcasting, NTIA will focus its outreach efforts on targeted communities that are lagging in DTV preparedness. NTIA will send mobile assistance centers to Seattle and other targeted cities, where staff will help consumers apply for coupons toward the purchase of DTV converter boxes and learn how to install the boxes.

In addition, the Commerce Department is running Public Service Announcements in buses, transit shelters, and benches; airing radio ads in both Spanish and English; and is planning to launch a text message campaign to raise awareness about how to prepare for the transition.

Consumers can call 1-888-DTV-2009 for more information or to request a coupon.