Digital TV is coming, ready or not

Sarah Gardner Jun 9, 2009
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Digital TV is coming, ready or not

Sarah Gardner Jun 9, 2009
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TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: Four months ago, there was much hullabaloo over the looming switch to digital television. So much hullabaloo in fact that Congress and the White House agreed to delay the transition. The new deadline is this coming Friday. And Marketplace’s Sarah Gardner reports that still, not everybody is ready for digital prime time.


PUBLIC SERVICE AD: Do nothing before June 12th, 2009, and you could lose your TV signal.

SARAH GARDNER: The Federal Communications Commission has been warning viewers for two years about the conversion to digital TV. It was supposed to happen in February. But the government pushed back the date when it started running out of $40 vouchers for digital converter boxes. There are more vouchers now, thanks to the federal stimulus bill, but the FCC’s Mark Wigfield says millions of Americans are still stuck in the analog age.

MARK WIGFIELD: The latest Nielson figures show that about 2.7 percent of the nation’s households are completely unprepared.

That’s about 3 million, and it includes the elderly, the poor, non-English speakers and, of course, just plain old procrastinators who will swarm Best Buy Thursday night in search of those set-top boxes.

The FCC’s hired thousands of people to staff help centers and take phone calls from the TV deprived. One analyst noted, at least American Idol is over. True, but the NBA playoffs may not be.

I’m Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.

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