NCTA, Comcast Spearhead DTV Education Partnership

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The National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Comcast, The League of United Latin American Citizens and the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Wednesday announced a partnership to educate Keystone State residents about the pending, federally mandated DTV transition deadline.

The goal of this grassroots campaign is to offer resources to local organizations and drive additional DTV education and access to information. The community outreach portion of the program will be funded by the NCTA.

With less than nine months remaining until the Feb. 17, 2009 deadline, cable operators, programmers, legislators and regulatory agencies are scrambling to make sure the estimated 10% of Americans relying on analog signals for television service are informed about the pending switch and given the resources and options necessary to continue receiving signals following the switch to digital-only signals.

This transition has been planned for years by the federal government for the stated purpose of freeing up parts of the broadcast spectrum for public safety communications such as police, fire departments and rescue squads.

A 2008 Nielsen survey estimated that more than 13 million households in the United States receive television programming over the air on non-digital television sets, meaning they will need analog-to-digital converter boxes, service from a cable or satellite provider or a new digital TV set with a built-in converter to watch broadcast television after February 17, 2009.  Another 6 million households have at least one television set that will be affected by the DTV changes. 

Nielsen researchers found that 10.1 percent of all households would have no access to television signals if the transition occurred today.  Broken down by race, 8.8 percent of whites would be unready; 11.7 percent of Asians; 12.4 percent of blacks; and 17.3 percent of Hispanics.

"The value of this important partnership is ensuring that our entire community has access to critical information concerning the broadcast-to-digital transition,” Pennsylvania State Representative Angel Cruz, a member of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), said in a statement.  “I applaud this collective effort that aims to keep everyone well educated about the facts of the February 2009 deadline and its far-reaching implications.” 

The organizations will use door-to-door advertising, presentations and panels at regional and national conference as well as public service announcements and in-language material distribution efforts to reach out to Pennsylvania residents.

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