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Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Urges Unprepared Consumers to Ensure at Least One Television Set is DTV-Ready

June 05, 2009

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Cross-posted from the Commerce Department's website at:


Friday, June 5, 2009



Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Urges Unprepared Consumers to Ensure At Least One Television Set is DTV-Ready

Only One Week Left to Prepare for the June 12 National Switch to Digital Television

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke today urged Americans who rely on over-the-air broadcasting, typically those who use older televisions with "rabbit ears" or a rooftop antenna, to take immediate action so that at least one television in their household continues working when the nationwide switch to digital television occurs one week from today. The transition to digital will free up airwaves for broadband and enhanced emergency communications for our police officers, firefighters and other first responders.

Consumers who have TV sets with digital tuners or that are connected to cable, satellite or another pay TV service do not need to act.

"With one week to go before the nation's switch to digital broadcasting, I urge consumers who use an older television not on cable or satellite to take the necessary steps to ensure that they can continue receiving the news and information they rely on after June 12," Locke said.

Consumers with over-the-air television reception have three options to keep watching TV after full-power television stations end analog broadcasting on June 12: subscribe to cable or satellite TV service; purchase a television with a digital tuner; or buy a converter box that plugs into an older analog TV and converts the signal to digital.

Eligible households can apply for up to two $40 coupons toward the purchase of converter boxes, but consumers who apply now will no longer receive coupons before the switch on June 12. Processing and mailing coupons currently takes about nine business days.

While it is illegal to sell coupons, consumers who have unexpired coupons they do not need may give them to friends, parents or other family members who are unprepared for digital television.

Consumers can apply for coupons from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's TV Converter Box Coupon Program until July 31, while supplies last. Consumers may re-apply for coupons only if their previously issued coupons expired without being redeemed. Coupons expire 90 days after they are mailed and have the expiration date printed on them.

Consumers who choose to use a coupon toward the purchase of a converter box must use the coupon at the time of purchase. Consumers should call ahead to confirm availability of coupon-eligible converter boxes on the day they plan to shop.

Digital broadcasting will provide a clearer picture and more programming choices for many consumers.

For more information about the switch to digital broadcasting, visit