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February 4, 2009

Delay of DTV Transition to June 12 Will Help New Yorkers Avoid Television Blackout

Washington, DC – The U.S. House of Representatives today voted to delay the nationwide transition to digital television until June 12, 2009 to give households that receive their television signal over-the-air additional time to prepare for the switch.  Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) applauded the extension, noting that thousands of New Yorkers will now have an opportunity to receive coupons that ease the burden of purchasing a digital converter box.  In New York’s 12th Congressional District alone, 6,082 households remain on a waiting list to receive the $40 coupons.

“Digital television will provide clearer pictures and more programming options, but if we make the switch too soon then we risk leaving millions of Americans in the dark.  New Yorkers now have an additional 115 days to obtain coupons and make sure their televisions are prepared for the change,” said Congresswoman Velazquez

According to a recent study by the Nielsen Company, more than 6.5 million U.S. households would have lost television reception had the digital transition occurred on February 17.   The study showed that minority families would have been impacted at a far greater rate than the national average, with nearly 10 percent of all Hispanic and African American households currently unprepared for the transition.  These statistics highlight the need to continue educating the public about the transition and distribute coupons for the purchase of converter boxes. 

“Given the looming transition deadline and the fact that nearly 10% of Hispanic households are not yet prepared for the change – we had to act quickly to prevent a communications shutdown,” Velazquez said.  “I will continue to do my part to educate consumers and ensure all New Yorkers are ready for the transition in June.”

Under the “DTV Delay Act,” all local television stations will cease analog broadcasts and transmit only in a digital format starting on June 12, 2009.  Television sets that receive their signals from over-the-air broadcasting will need a converter box to display the new digital signals, but television sets connected to cable or satellite will be unaffected.  In addition, the legislation permits consumers to reapply for replacement coupons if they failed to use their original coupons before the 90 day expiration date.  Each household is limited to redeeming a maximum of two coupons.  The bill was approved in the Senate on January 29, and now goes to the President for his signature.

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