Although local media justice organization Reclaim the Media praised Congress' decision to delay the nation's shift to digital television, problems with the coupon program remain.
The vote by the House of Representatives delays the DTV transition, originally scheduled for Feb. 17, until June 12. By that date, television stations across the country will turn off their analog signals and continue broadcasting only in digital.
Problems with the federal government's coupon program, which provides $40 discounts off the cost of DTV converter boxes, have prevented many low-income households from preparing for the switch. In addition, most local electronics retailers have refused to carry boxes priced at $40, instead offering models priced at $60 and up. Mayor Nickels and the Seattle City Council have called upon retailers to provide a 'no-cost transition' option.
"Delaying the switch was the only way to avoid leaving tens of thousands of Seattle-area viewers in the dark," said Reclaim the Media Executive Director Jonathan Lawson. "Congress still needs to provide additional funding for the coupon program, and for public education. As in much of the country, Seattle viewers are not yet ready to lose analog TV."
Reclaim the Media, the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, and the Leadership Academy have partnered with the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights to provide DTV Assistance Centers in the Seattle area. The centers are targeting assistance to low-income and elderly consumers, people with disabilities, and non-English speakers.
Information on hours and locations is available on the web at www.seattledtv.com. Local telephone assistance is available at 206-508-1277.