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Thursday, January 08, 2009

SENATOR CLINTON’S OFFICE TO HOLD DTV TRANSITION INFORMATIONAL MEETING

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has announced her office will hold an informational briefing with Albany area agencies to better prepare residents for the upcoming digital television transition. Senator Clinton invited federal agency experts from the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications & Information Administration to meet with Albany area agencies and a representative from her office to outline the upcoming digital television transition scheduled for February 17, 2009. The meeting will take place at 1:00p.m. on Friday, January 9, 2009, and will be held in the Library of the Senior Services of Albany Administrative Offices “Louise Corning Senior Center.”

“With the DTV transition date rapidly approaching it is essential that we provide New Yorkers with the knowledge and tools to make the necessary changes to their television sets,” said Senator Clinton. “Many New Yorkers rely on older television sets for important news and public service announcements and are at risk of losing access to this critical information.”

Agencies and other organizations interested in participating should contact Senator Clinton’s Albany Regional Director, Case Button at (518) 431-0120. The event is closed to the public.

Senator Clinton has worked to raise awareness of the transition. In a letter to President Bush on August 1, 2008, Senator Clinton called on the President to establish a federal interagency task force dedicated to the DTV transition. Senator Clinton voiced concern that senior citizens, low-income families, residents of rural areas and minorities will be disproportionately affected by the transition and that lack of readiness could leave underserved communities without access to critical public safety information.

The DTV (digital television) transition will affect hundreds of thousands of New York households who have older television sets that utilize antennas to receive over-the-air signals. These televisions will require a new convertor box for them to properly work after February 17, 2009. A May 2008 Nielson Company survey showed that 9.4 percent of households nationwide were rated “completely unready” for the transition to DTV. Of those households, nearly 20 percent were Hispanic, more than half of which were only Spanish-speaking. It was recently reported that battery-powered analog televisions, which are frequently used for weather-related and public safety information, may not function after the transition even with a digital-to-analog converter box.

According to a study released in May, 2008 by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), 11 percent of New York State households were not aware that the DTV transition would be taking place. The study further reported that an estimated 668,330 New York State households relied exclusively on over-the-air broadcasts for TV.

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